1. The latest version of “the most important game of the season” is upon the Caps. Reasonable minds can disagree as to whether or not it’s a “must win,” but expect the Caps to give it all they’ve got:
Trotz on Caps not being discouraged: "That's the change in our team. Our team's not going to back off. We're not backing off."— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 28, 2017
There’s no panic in D.C. (well, on the team, that is; fanbase, you’re on your own), and Trotz knows his team did a heck of a lot of good things in Game 1:
Trotz: "Today is a day of finding a little tweak in your game that may make a difference. We will implement those. We’ll be better."— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) April 28, 2017
And via Dump ‘n Chase:
“We can be better,” declares Trotz. “We can be better in a few areas. We’re going to correct those and we’re going to be better [Saturday]. That’s the positive. The things that we can control, and we can do better and we intend to do that [Saturday].”
As for largely trivial historical Game 2 performances, Caps Today has you covered:
The Capitals are 14-11 all-time at home in Game 2 of a series and have posted a 10-6 record in Game 2 when they trail a series 1-0. In addition, Washington has won Game 2 in six of its last nine playoff series. Braden Holtby has posted a 1.63 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage in his career in Game 2. Alex Ovechkin has earned 16 points (10g, 6a) and Nicklas Backstrom has tallied 15 points (7g, 8a) in 14 career Game 2s.
Both teams are 0-0 in the only game that matters right now - tonight’s - as of this publication.
2. One thing that the Caps failed to take full advantage of in the first round and now again in the second is having home ice for the series. That, unfortunately, is nothing new to the Ovechkin-Era Caps.
Since the start of the 2007-08 season, the Caps have gone 253-97-43 at Verizon Center during the regular season (a .644 win percentage, and the most standings points in the League over that span), but only 27-21 in the post-season (.563), a good-not-great percentage that ranks 10th among teams with more than a dozen home games played (Chicago leads the way at 45-19, .703). (H/t Peerless)
Meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t won consecutive road playoff games since 2014 (he’s gone 3-4 since), and has a road playoff save percentage of just .893 and a goals against average of 3.42 in 27 games since winning the Cup in 2009 (.897/3.23 since 2008, .903/3.07 in 52 career road playoff games); he was 1-1/.873/4.15 in Columbus in Round 1 and is 9-9/.889/4.03 in his last 18 road playoff games, and posted a 4-7-5/.887/3.58 mark away from Pittsburgh during this past regular season. You get the point - Fleury’s Game 1 performance was exceedingly rare for him lately, and hopefully not repeatable.
3. Game 1 hero Nick Bonino and guy-who-didn’t-defend-that-Bonino-goal-particularly-well Kevin Shattenkirk go way back (in fact, they won a National Championship together at Verizon Center in 2009):
Kevin Shattenkirk and Nick Bonino put friendship on hold during Capitals-Penguins series: https://t.co/iD1YPfaa7T— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) April 28, 2017
'It's a pretty competitive friendship.' ... On Nick Bonino and Kevin Shattenkirk meeting in the postseason: https://t.co/utDGHNqt7K— Jason Mackey (@JMackeyPG) April 29, 2017
Shattenkirk was best man at Nick Bonino's wedding. When it was Bonino who scored on him last night, made it worse. https://t.co/cOXqmt8WmL— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) April 28, 2017
Hey, it’s called “The Narrative” for a reason - if you don’t care about a third-pair defenseman and a third-line forward from the other team being pals, we won’t judge.
But we do have one question... is this the first time a Capital has faced a playoff opponent for whom he was or would be the best man since Olie Kolzig and Byron Dafoe went at it in 1998?