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The Narrative: Zebras, D-Zone Coverage, and a Missed Opportunity

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Three things we’re talking about today when we’re talking about the Caps

2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

1. Game 1 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final was a terrifically exciting hockey game, featuring goals and lead changes galore. And yet, all anyone wanted to talk about afterwards was the officiating.

In the third period alone, there was that Reaves unpenalized crosscheck that led directly to the game-winning goal...

... then Tom Wilson’s late hit on Jon Marchessault (that was penalized, but won’t be subject to any supplementary discipline)...

... and finally, Brayden McNab slashing (unpenalized) Lars Eller’s stick in the waning moments of the game:

Each fan base has their own take on these incidents, of course, but we can probably all agree that any time the focus is on the officiating and not the hockey, it’s a bad thing for the sport and its fans.

2. Whether it was nerves, rust, or some combination of the two, the Caps had one of their worst defensive efforts in these playoffs, particularly in their own zone:

That’s a lot of high-quality opportunity in front of Braden Holtby (who wasn’t at his sharpest), and it’s hard to see the Caps making much noise in this series if they can’t clean up their play in the defensive zone, both in terms of coverage and zone exits.

3. The good news is that the Caps scored four goals on the previously impenetrable Marc-Andre Fleury, and should take some confidence from that. The bad news? The Caps blew two leads (both on the first Vegas shot after taking the lead) and may well look back on this game as a missed opportunity to jump out in the series.

But they’ve blown leads and trailed in each of the previous three series, so this one will be no different. The Caps have work to do, but have plenty to build on after one game in what looks to be a long series.