1. Don’t look now, but Braden Holtby is back to looking like Braden Holtby, which is to say very
handsome good. After allowing four goals in each of Games 2 through 4, the Vezina finalist was able to lock in for a pair of one-goal-against overtime victories, stopping 61 shots along the way, for a cool .968 save percentage.
“He came up huge and that’s what Braden Holtby does,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “I know earlier in the series he took some criticism and there was a lot of doubters out there. The only people who doubted him were the people outside. Inside our room, there was no doubt. He’s been too good for too long. He makes those key saves and that’s why he’s a Vezina candidate for the last few years.”
As we’d said throughout the series, Holtby had been better than his numbers would indicate, as he’d been victimized by both bad bounces (though he’ll deny it) and bad defense (and he’d certainly be the last guy on earth to cop to that).
Still, it was reassuring to see two great games from Holtby to close out the series. As TSN’s goalie guru Jamie McLennan put it:
2. So now it’s on to Round 2, where the regular season’s best team will face the regular season’s second-best team for the right to advance to play the winner of the series between the circuit’s ninth- and 12th-best clubs (fifth vs. seventh in the Conference). Meanwhile, out West, it’s 6 vs. 8 and 10 vs. 16.
Some reward for that 118-point regular season, eh?
At the risk of stating the obvious, if the League re-seeded after the first round, the Caps would be facing the Senators in Round 2, while the Penguins and Rangers would be going at it. Instead...
At least the League will get a ratings bonanza which, after all, is what really matters... right? And if you’ve gotta face the Champs, this is as good a time as ever.
All of that said...
3. ... this isn’t last year, it isn’t the 90s, and it isn’t the 80s. It’s 2017. And this year’s team was designed to compete with the Pens. Can they? Some analytically-minded folks sure think so:
Playoff chances entering the second round. pic.twitter.com/NKpDU8GaRe— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) April 24, 2017
Stanley Cup Probabilities heading into round 2. pic.twitter.com/8XfQJhKUhM— Matt Cane (@Cane_Matt) April 24, 2017
WSH-PIT series probabilities, via Alice: pic.twitter.com/nrD5L6R4bE— Emmanuel Perry (@MannyElk) April 24, 2017
What say you, Vegas?
Finally, for a slightly different take from an interested party...
By the way, Backstrom said the Caps are "underdogs" against Pittsburgh, since the Pens are defending champs. Found that interesting.— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 24, 2017
Regardless, Washington certainly isn’t going to sneak up on Pittsburgh, which is somewhat unfortunate, as Penguins can be spooked...
Aww. Sad. [Via imgur]