Alright folks, final round-robin game. Capitals versus Bruins. Winners get the Islanders, losers get the Hurricanes. Neither the Caps nor the Bruins have won a round-robin game in the bubble, mostly because neither team has looked particularly good. Let’s dive right in.
Lars Eller (post-baby quarantine) and John Carlson (undisclosed) are still out of the Caps’ lineup, so Travis Boyd and Martin Fehervary took the ice in their place. Yes, you read that right, that’s a Martin Fehervary playoff debut! Congratulations, Marty!
Here’s Sunday afternoon’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Braden Holtby looked excellent in net today, as he usually does when facing the Bruins. While some fans might have wanted to see Vitek Vanecek get some playing time in the round-robin, starting Holtby against an opponent he has a good history against was absolutely the right choice. Hopefully he can build off this confidence in Round 1.
Minus: The Capitals were only able to get away with their poor offense today because the Bruins looked just as uninspired. They are going to have to turn up the heat a little for Round 1, especially because they will be facing a team that just had to play for their playoff survival.
And now, let’s relive whatever the heck this pileup moment was:
Ten more notes on the game:
1. The Capitals didn’t record their first shot on goal today until 9:09 into the first period. Woof.
2. Dmitry Orlov was called for a holding penalty on David Pastrnak with six and a half minutes to go in the first. It was a bit of a soft call, but the Caps’ penalty kill continued their strong bubble play, improving to seven for seven since the restart.
3. With 2:49 left in the first, we got some four-on-four hockey when Connor Clifton took Boston’s first trip to the sin bin for cross-checking and Evgeny Kuznetsov got caught retaliating with a slash. T.J. Oshie had a two-on-one opportunity, but his shot went uncharacteristically wide of the net.
4. 16 seconds before the first period ended, on Washington’s second shot of the game, Oshie decided to make up for his earlier gaff and put the Caps up 1-0. The goal came after a big faceoff win from Oshie, who then beat Zdeno Chara on the doorstep and got the puck past Tuukka Rask. This marks Oshie’s 20th playoff goal with the Caps, breaking his tie with Mike Ridley for sole possession of seventh-most in franchise history. This is also Washington’s first lead in their three round-robin games.
5. When the Caps took the ice for the second, there was a bit of a change in the top two lines and a return to something familiar: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie and Vrana-Kuznetsov-Wilson. That new top line was on the ice for Oshie’s first period tally, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Keeping this shakeup in the lines could potentially be very good for the Caps, depending on who they face in Round 1.
6. Ilya Kovalchuk took a hooking penalty 2:31 into the second period, but the Caps’ PK units kept up their bubble magic and killed it off. The PK is one of the few positives from earlier in the year that seem to have made the trip to Toronto.
7. The Caps got their first power play of the game when Brandon Carlo took a hooking penalty with 13 minutes to go in the second. The Carlson-less man-advantage didn’t look too bad, but it was definitely missing some oomph. The best part about this power play was actually the sustained pressure the Caps put on the Bruins after Carlo’s penalty expired.
8. Tom Wilson, the best goal-scorer in the league according to David Pastrnak, put the Caps up 2-0 less than three minutes into the third. Wilson hustled down the ice to chase a puck and then finessed a top-shelf shot past Rask for a beauty of a goal. I guess Pasta doesn’t lie...also of note, Ilya Kovalchuk tallied the primary assist on this goal, earning him his first playoff point as a Capital.
9. Just over halfway through the third period, DeBrusk finally got the Bruins on the board with a weird but admittedly slick play in front of Holtby. DeBrusk took advantage of a broken play to get Boston their first goal of the day.
10. DeBrusk’s goal seemed to give the Bruins some life in the second half of the third, but Holtby and the Caps managed to hold them off and hold onto a 2-1 victory.
Capitals win, which can only mean one thing: they play Barry Trotz’s Islanders in the first round of the 2020 playoffs. See you in Round 1, everyone!