We’re officially off and runnin’ in the Corona Cup playoffs as the Cap’s took on Tampa Bay in the first game of the Round Robin Seeding series. But, there were a few things to look at before taking the ice…
CARLSON INJURY – Arguably the biggest storyline was the health status of John Carlson , who took an awkward fall in the exhibition vs Carolina last week. It was awkward as hell when he went down, and honestly my brain immediately thinks of the worst possible scenario when you see a non contact injury and a leg/knee twist like that. You NEVER know if it was just a twitch in the knee, or a fuckin’ full blow tear and the Norris winner is out for two months.
BRADEN BRICKWALL – This is something that I feel is going to be a storyline for literally every single game this post season. Reason one for the fact that yea, it’s probably Holts swan song in DC, and while he’s already cemented himself as a Caps legend and go down as probably our best goalie in franchise history – people want to see him ride out a winner, we wanna see the best Holts, and we want to see him dominate games and take us on a run. The second being that yes there is a little bit of added pressure on him with Samsonov being out and the uncertainty of how either Cops or Vitek will perform in a playoff situation after having little and no NHL experience respectively. Yes, we need our big guns up front to produce, but if we want to go anywhere in these ploffs, Holts has to be the rock.
We got the news about 20 min before puck drop that Carlson would indeed sit this game out, inserting Dadko into the lineup to play on the right side of Kemps. Obviously not ideal, and we truly don’t know the extent of the injury yet, but hey, this is the benefit of being a top four team in the round robin. Yes, the games are meaningful from a seeding standpoint, but they aren’t elimination games, so play it safe, rest Johnny Norris if need be, and we’ll have him 100% when ready.
The first period was an absolute dumpster fire… like, it was really fuckin’ bad. Tampa hemmed us in for the majority of the period and just sustained pressure leading to chance after chance. But, you know what doesn’t help the Caps get out? Turnovers on the breakout, NOT IDEAL! Here’s a stat you don’t wanna see: Turnovers for Caps? 7… and that’s exactly what lead to Tampas first goal as Lars tried to force a pass in the neutral zone, Tampa picks it off, head’s in, and Kuch absolutely pipes one past Holtby to put the Bolts up 1-0, and that score would stay throughout the first period.
It got *a little* better in the second, and by that I mean we actually got a few shifts in their zone and some pucks on net, including a grade A chance in the slot for Eller that he unfortunately snapped his twig on… BUT, Tampa kept pepperin’ and pepperin’ and took a 2-0 lead. This one is a tip in by Stephens from a puck thrown on net by Hedman. You know what would have helped stop this goal from happening? Our defensemen in front of the net supporting the crease and out bodying the bolts. Where was Gudas? Doing god knows what at the top of the circle.
I mean, idk.. it wasn’t a great first two periods, yet the Caps would find a way to tie the game with mix-matched lines at that due to Oshie in the box due to his fight. Third line grind with now Panik up on the wing would get a sloppy one, and seemingly that’s the only way we would be able to score on Tampa in this game since we wouldn’t really sustain any pressure. This goal however would give the boys some life. Gudas from the point a flick of da wrist, Eller gets a piece, and the puck lays on the goal line until Panik cleans it up and makes it 2-1. That’s playoff hockey baby, pucks at the fuckin’ feet and crash, esp when things aren’t going your way at all.
Momentum would swing in the Caps way BIG TIMEEEEE as they would buzz for the next min and half or so and holy shit is that LIFE we are seeing from the Caps?! YA DAMN RIGHT IT IS, and when you have a heavy shift, it’s leading to one thing or the other – a goal or a pepper, and it was a PP with 1:08 to go in the second and chance to salvage a period and the game for that matter and… IT’S THE BIRDMANS MUSIC. Like I just said above – pucks on net and crash. Ya gotta muck it up when you can’t generate much offense, and Orly put’s one on net, hit Vasy in the chest and Kuzy is there to *barley* jam it over the line and we’ve got a 2-2- game going into the third.
The Caps, however, would turn it around and finish the third strong getting a majority of chances. OT we go (in the playoffs…at 3v3 .. wtf?!) No score in OT as the Caps do however get two great chances with a Vrana breakaway and Ovi shot on goal from the crease basically. Caps would drop the shootout 2-1 and lose the game 3-2 in a shootout that saw Oshie flip it home over the glove (easyyyyy button)..Kuzy go for a … wrap around I think? and Backy getting stuffed. For more, check out our YouTube video below which is a replay of our Post Game Show that can be seen LIVE on Twitter after every Caps game these playoffs.