NHL Playoff Questions: Is this the Capitals' Year?
5. Is this the year Alex the Great and the Capitals get off the proverbial schneid?
The beast of the East once again hails from our nation’s capital. While I know what you’re thinking, Bruce Boudreau and Co. have a few tricks up their sleeve to prove that maybe it takes four times to find some charm.
Looking at the statistics, it’s safe to say Washington’s star-studded trio of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom underachieved during the regular season.
Add in the fact the Caps used three young goalies all 23-years old and younger (Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby) for their 107-point campaign, and a one-and-done result is not a far-fetched prediction.
But this isn’t the same Capitals team that lost to the Canadiens last season, the Penguins in 2009 and the Flyers in 2008. This team is no longer a free-wheeling, offensive juggernaut, but instead climbed to the top of the standings with a defense-first mentality.
The Capitals’ defensive unit, led by Mike Green, John Carlson and Karl Alzner, helped pave the way in this about face transformation.
The defensive trio helped Washington notch the fourth best goals against average (2.33 goals per game) in the league and solidified a penalty killing unit that ranked second in the NHL (allowed a power play goal only 14.4 percent of the time).
Sometimes a zebra can change its stripes and frankly if Ovechkin is ever going to find his name etched in hockey immortality, this is the way he is going to have to do it: playing second fiddle on a defensive-minded hockey team.
Be sure to check out the other five NHL Playoff questions.
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