clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Capitals vs Rangers Game 5: What Worked and What Didn't

Heading into Game Six, we take a look at what worked and what didn't for the Washington Capitals in the fifth tilt.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals were only 101 seconds away from securing the right to play for the Prince of Wales trophy. Instead, a late Chris Kreider tally, followed by a Ryan McDonagh goal in overtime, sent both teams back to Washington where they'll drop the puck on Game 6 on Sunday evening.

Like we did for Game 1Game 2Game 3, and Game 4, let's dive into Game 5 and take a closer look at what worked and what didn't.

What Worked

  • Goaltending
Big surprise here, right? Braden Holtby was tremendous for the umpteenth time in a row— most notably on a couple how-the-heck-did-he-get-that-one type saves on Martin St. Louis. Holtby finished with 41 saves, including 5 on the Rangers first power play of the night, which looked more dangerous than it has all series. Just another night at the office for Braden, who deserved better than to come out of that one with a heartbreaking loss.

  • Improving on Possession
The Caps had been pretty thoroughly walloped in possession through the first four game of this series, and by a team that didn't particularly excel in that category in the regular season. The Caps were able to right the ship a little bit in this regard, finishing the game with 54 5v5 shot attempts to the Rangers' 55. There are no morale victories in a playoff loss, but to have balanced the Madison Square Garden ice a bit is at the least a good sign.

  • Continued Production From Unlikely Sources
Add Curtis Glencross's names to the Caps' list of heroes goal scorers. The Caps continue to get production from their bottom six forwards, which if sustained, could bode very well for the Caps moving forward, so long as the rest of the lineup ends their two-game hiatus and begins making deposits at the Bank of Goal once again. Which leads us into our next section...

What Didn't Work

  • The Top 6
In Game 2, Alex Ovechkin gave the Washington Capitals a fighting chance when, down by a score of 3-1, he tore through defenders Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, fell to his knees, and blistered a shot past Henrik Lundqvist. The Caps lost that game, and that spectacular goal was the last we've heard not just from Ovechkin, but from any forward on the Caps' top two lines. The secondary scoring Washington is receiving is great, but it doesn't do as much good when it's effectively the primary scoring. The Caps big guns need to show up again, hands down.

  • "They haven't seen [our best effort] yet."
Wait, why the hell not? We're five games into the series. If ever there was a time to give you best effort, wouldn't the elimination game— the very game that this franchise has failed to hurdle for seventeen years, and for the entirety of the Ovechkin era— be the time? And apart from this being a nice bit of fiery motivational microphone work from the bench boss, if the Caps haven't put their best foot forward through five games, what reason is there to believe that it'll happen in Game 6 or in a possible Game 7?

  • Slow Starts
Rather than go into detail here— because I've been doing so all series— just note that it happened again. The Rangers came out hot, the Caps on their heels. The Caps did eventually stem the momentum, and even emerged from the first period winning the even strength possession battle, but they were flat out of the gates, as they have been all season, and the problem that just won't go away persists.

  • The Killer Bees Line
The only thing worse than this line's moniker was their play on Friday night. They were the worst possession trio in the game. And Troy Brouwer...we're still waiting on that big goal that Barry Trotz promised out of you.

  • Controlled Exits
Curtis Glencross's game-ending gaffe wasn't the first time the Caps were thwarted either trying exit their zone or advance through the neutral zone. It was an issue in the Islanders series, and it's been an issue in this one. That it hasn't stung them more often ranks somewhere among the miraculous— though the magnitude of this one might make up for it. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a pair of fourth liners to be moving the puck diagonally across the neutral zone in overtime, but here we are. And Glencross's assertion that if that puck reaches Laich, Brooksy's in all alone, is patently false.

The Caps have set themselves up for success in this series. Losing Game 5 isn't a backbreaker, even if it was a heart breaker. That they've arrived here with such limited production from their primary sources is probably lucky. That the production has been so limited is probably unlucky.  Now, the Caps have at least two more whacks at the Rangers to try to capitalize on their upfront good fortune, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.