THIS GIF IS A FUCKIN’ MOOOOOOOD BABY. IT’S A PLAYOFF GAMEDAYYYYYYYY and omg we are actually here. I mean, a few months ago, when allllll of this corona hit and shut everything down, did we actually think this day was a possibility? The progress the NHL has made over the last few months has been second to none, and everything they developed from a safety standpoint and just every little detail that went into making this possible is just incredible. So thank you, NHL, for allowing me to be a nervous, emotional, depressed, happiest person ever during Caps playoff games. This is a group blog, written by all the boys here at Chirpin’ DMV. So enjoy, and get a glimpse of how we’re all feeling coming into this series.
The Round Robin and Qualifying Round is officially in the books, which means it’s time to buckle down and go win our second cup in three years. Caps finished the Round Robin at 1-1-1 and in the third seed, which, honestly, made me feel a lot better knowing we came in as the third seed, so we really aren’t any worse off than we would have been. With that, we drew Barry Trotz and the New York Islanders. Before we get into too much, let’s take a look back at the season series, where the Caps and Isles split it at 2-2.
PS – Remember who we are… if you came here for the most insane analytical breakdown of the series, you’re in the wrong place. Go read **** or something to get their stat filled preview with a side of politics, complaints, and other bullshit that has nothing to do with hockey.
Featured photo via Washington Capitals/Twitter
AB’s Love for a Coach (And It’s Not Ours)
There’s one HUUUGEEEEE storyline that lies here in this series that may haunt Caps fans forever or may ease their mind after the conclusion of this series. REIRDEN vs TROTZ… As all Caps fans are, we here at Chripin DMV are on the Trotz bandwagon. Is he the greatest coach in the NHL? It’s quite possible. He’s at the very least top 5. Actually scratch that. Top 3. Because I can only think of 2 others currently in the league that has his team buy in no matter how talented the roster is. John Tortorella and Joel Quennville. If you listen to the podcast, you should know that we may or may not be on the Fire Reirden bandwagon (we definitely are).
The team has definitely lost a step since Trotz left, but in Reirden’s defense, the team has gotten much older and have lost huge key guys in that Cup winning locker room. Niskanen is gone, that’s huge. He played 22 minutes a night. Connolly is gone, a 20-goal scorer on a third line. That’s huge for winning a Stanley Cup. Burakovksy is gone, he may have struggled as a Capital at times, but he came up big in some of the biggest games in franchise history and the guys in the locker room LOVED him as a son (he was definitely the child of the team). And Orpik has retired, he’s still with the franchise, but not having on the ice as a leader hurts. Not to mention he ate pucks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
So with that being said, maybe we should give Reirden a little bit of slack?? FUCK THAT I’M AN IRRATIONAL CAPS FAN AND I WANT TO WIN NOW! Reirden does need some work with preparing against his opponents, that’s what Trotz is best at. Preparation. He needs to work on in-game adjustments. I will say I don’t think Trotz was the best at that but he did make changes when needed, and to me it felt like he made them a lot quicker than Uncle Todd has. And Reirden for some reason has not gotten this team to remain discipline penalty-wise AND defensively. Trotz is KING of this and that is a huge advantage for the Islanders. AND FOR FUCK’S SAKE SHAKE UP THE FUCKIN POWERPLAY. I mean how bad does it have to get to shake it up. At this point literally anything would work better than what was working this season. Play the fuckin 3rd and 4th lines for all I care. Don’t even change anything from 5-on-5 play just go out roll lines and act like nothing’s changed. They just have one less player. Someone will be open if you forecheck and force turnovers.
With that being said, the Capitals do have a bigger and better roster than the Islanders. If they remain DISCIPLINE I think the Caps control this series fairly easily. BIG IF… that literally hasn’t happened all season. Holtby also needs to outplay Varlamov in order to win this series. That’s something I do have confidence in. And the stars need to show up, our 4th line has been our best, most consistent line. We need Backstrom to show up, we need Kuzy to play responsible. This will be a tight series, but I think the Caps can pull this out
This year, the Caps and Islanders split the season series evenly, each team winning twice in the other team’s arena. Although the Barry Trotz Islanders are notorious for their low scoring matchups (according to Hockey Reference, their Goals For+Goals Against per game was bottom five in league at just 5.57), in their season series with the Caps, the two teams combined for an average of 7.00 total goals scored per game.
Obviously, the Caps best option is to get out to an early lead, since the Islanders lack of offense makes it very hard for them to play catch up. In fact, when trailing, the Islanders are 3rd worst in the league at generating shot attempts, averaging just 2.24 xGF/60 (via Natural Stat Trick). Since their whole gameplan revolves around taking a small lead and then going into a defensive shell like a turtle, if you can disrupt that first part, that’s pretty much game over for them.
Of course, if that fails, the Islanders are also the 3rd worst at allowing shot attempts when they have the lead (via Natural Stat Trick). This is important for Washington as the Caps thrive when they are allowed to shoot, as they win 62.5% of the time when they outshoot their opponent, higher than their average win percentage (via NHL.com). The Caps already showed they can exploit this, when in January, the Caps went down 4-1 early on and scored 5 straight 3rd period goals.
Regardless of who scores first, the higher scoring this series is, the better chance the Caps have of winning it.
Stat Guy Blake is the best isn’t he? Until I read his blogs and it’s nothing but math and my brain turns to mush after the first paragraph. Totally kidding… kinda. But here’s what I agree with from his takes – the Caps need to get the early lead. The Islanders play a shutdown, win a 2-1, 3-2 game (which is high scoring for them) and they will heavily rely on getting the first goal, and the longer the game stays scoreless, the better off they are as a team. For the Caps, the recipe is score early and score often. Get the lead in the first 5 min and put the Islanders on the rope right off the jump every game. If the Isles find themselves trailing early and often in every game, they are gonna have to find new ways to muster up some offense and create scoring chances. Breaking news: their lineup isn’t nearly good enough to be able to do so. We wanna run and gun these guys, turn it into a boat race. If the Caps are in a 1 goal, low scoring game, say 1-1 or so late in games, we’re gonna have to rely on these crease, feed the chicken, pick up the trash, grit and grind type of goals and I DON’T WANT THAT. I want odd man rushes, flying up the boards, 2 on 1’s finishing with OVI SNIPES.
Now, let’s breakdown the matchup’s and see who has the advantage at each position, shall we?
Coaching – ISLANDERS
Is this even a question??? Do I literally even have to break anything down here and explain myself??? it’s BARRY TROTZ VS TODD REIRDEN…
Offense – CAPS
We have Alex Ovechkin… that’s it… that’s the tweet…. The Islanders top six have a combined 826 career goals… Big O has 706.. we have Kuzy, Backs…Oshbabe… V… Tommy Tuck-it… KOVY?!?! Yeah, we win that by a mile
Defense – CAPS
I’m giving this one to the Caps because yes i’m biased but also because we have the edge in this category I think. Johnny Norris is what put’s our D over the top IMO, and a good supporting cast of Kemps (when he’s on) and Orlov, who have been there and done that in terms of winning a cup. We’ve got the addition of Dillon who is a fantastic shut down D man, and the duo of Jenny and Siegs has been great in the bubble. As long as Gudas isn’t in the lineup, we’re good.
Goaltending – Split
lol… Varly in a Caps jersey. Listen, i’ll call this a split just to be nice. Let’s be honest, Holtby is the better goalie, the more proven goalie, and has more trophies and what not. BUT, he didn’t play all that well this season… yet he did look great.. sorry, he was the best Cap in the Round Robin. Varly played good af for the Isles however, and under the GOAT Mitch Korn, had a great season in the net. It’ll be a fun goaltending battle for sure.
Powers Still Riding the High Scoring Ovi Train
Holy heck boys it feels good to have some playoff hockey back. I’m ready to feel the anxiety of a close playoff game coming down to the wire or the greatest thing in hockey playoff OT. These playoffs are a whole different animal than previous years. We’ve already had 12 seeds making it out of the qualifying round. It just feels to me that this thing could be anyone’s to win. The team that will come together and play the best TEAM hockey will prevail.
Is it Trotz vs Reirden? Maybe.. I don’t want it be. Nor do I think we can let it become that. If anything it is more of Reirden vs himself? On paper in my non bias opinion the capitals look better on paper. Meaning Reirden already has an edge on Trotz will a better team. We all know Trotz will come with a game plan and strategy to play good defense hockey. The capitals need 3 things to go right to win this series. Goal scoring from your top 2 lines the stars preforming, special teams (including taking penalties) and #1 is goal tending. Holbty could bail Todd out if it does become a coaching duel. Reirden has to be able to motivate these guys to kick it in another gear.
Reirden coaches a lot better and actually makes adjustments. Ovie dominates Varlamov scores 5 in this series. Holtby will be the teams MVP of the series with 2 HUGE game.
STAT GUY BLAKE – Caps in 6
COACH – Caps in 6
AB – Caps in 6
KP – Caps in 6
If you missed our series preview with Mike Carver from the Isle Seat Podcast, you can check it out on Apple Podcast, at our Podcast page at the top of your screen, or below on Spotify!