1. The Caps return to Verizon Center with the series knotted at two games apiece and looking to get some of that sweet, sweet home ice advantage. During the regular season, Washington posted a League-best 32-7-2 mark, including a 24-3-2 run leading up to a meaningless season-ending loss to Florida. Meanwhile, Toronto finished out the regular season with an 8-8-2 mark away from the ACC.
What’s more, a loss tonight would mark the first time since April of 2015 that the Caps would have lost back-to-back games at home, excluding a couple of insignificant three-on-three overtime defeats and a regulation loss at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
Can you hear me now?
2. Heading into Game 4, Barry Trotz was under the microscope for his performance in the series to date. Now it’s Braden Holtby’s turn.
Do you think Braden Holtby has not quite looked himself? So do the Caps. They thought about benching him.https://t.co/NP3tEUBhTF— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) April 20, 2017
We went into some of the numbers in yesterday’s Nooner, and agree with the notion that his play has been hard to evaluate on the whole because of crazy bounces, shaky defense in front of him, and generally uneven play (which includes some sparkling stretches, like the Leafs’ Game 4 five-on-three).
All of that said, at some point in a playoff run, a team needs its Vezina guy to play Vezina-caliber hockey, or that playoff run isn’t going to last very long (just ask the Blue Jackets).
Braden Holtby has allowed four goals in three-straight games for the first time since January of 2015 and in seven of his last ten playoff games. Another similar outing tonight may be too much for the Caps to overcome.
3. Lastly, the Caps have made a roster move...
This would fit with suspicions that Jay Beagle is less than 100 percent (see also his face-off win percentage dip), which would be (and, in that case, has been) a bit of a blow to the Caps’ penalty kill. Furthermore, with Hershey opening their post-season tonight, the move carries a bit more weight (Stephenson isn’t here just to be a Black Ace). That said...
Everybody is on the ice. All four centers. It's possible someone is a question mark, but full participation.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 21, 2017