The candid aspect of a Washington Capitals’ conditions in their second-round playoff array opposite a Pittsburgh Penguins: They have dual chances to win one diversion and advance. Simple stuff.
The reality: Get it finished Monday night. Take a sixth game. The “or else” is implied. Because a ghost of a Game 7 in Washington — atonement me, another Game 7 in Washington — competence means a city to crater.
Now, should a Capitals remove Monday night in Pittsburgh — a genuine possibility, of course, since a Penguins are entirely healthy and Washington is, to some degree, undermanned — this is not to contend that a seventh diversion during Capital One Arena wouldn’t be only what a sixth diversion during PPG Paints Arena is: an opportunity.
But does anyone wearing a red sweater — be he or she on a ice or in a stands — wish any partial of that?
“We need to only concentration on a moment,” goaltender Braden Holtby said, citing something both hackneyed and true.
We know what Game 7 means around here. The record of Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals in Game 7s, dating behind to 2008: 3-7. In a second round: 0-4. You don’t need to puncture by a annals during a Hockey Hall of Fame to conjure adult a feelings. Try May 10, 2017. Same opponent. Same building. Same hopes. Same fears.
The Capitals dominated a first, say, 12 mins of that diversion opposite a Penguins.
“I was going, ‘We measure here, we’re winning,’ ” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz pronounced before this season. “ ‘We’re going to win big.’
“We didn’t score. Then we can only feel a energy.”
Why move adult Trotz’s research from October, behind when it seemed as if a rejiggered Capitals organisation would be propitious to strech a second round? Because a energetic relates now. we spent final summer thinking, “You know what? If Game 7 had been in Pittsburgh instead of Washington, a Caps would have won.”
Instead, what was afterwards famous as Verizon Center folded in on itself. Bryan Rust scored mid by a second, Patric Hornqvist combined a word idea early in a third, and a Penguins distinguished in front of a Capitals’ fans. What was harmful here — again — was only another difficult-but-necessary step in a run to a Pittsburgh Stanley Cup.
And nonetheless in a year in that their offseason was panned by a hockey cognoscenti, a Capitals won a Metropolitan Division again, racking adult 5 some-more points than Pittsburgh, earning home-ice advantage by this round. Part of home-ice advantage: strengthen it by 5 games, and we acquire a right to hang adult a array in six.
So maybe a many poignant byproduct of a Capitals’ 6-3 feat Saturday night in Game 5 isn’t that they guaranteed — during misfortune — a lapse to their home locus for a Game 7. It’s that they warranted a right to equivocate such a fate.
“We’ve got a small some-more shake room than them,” Trotz pronounced Sunday.
True. Don’t take it.
For all a stress looking into a past can means a Caps — actually, some-more accurately, for all a stress it can means their fans — there is some new story in that Washington has finished accurately what it’s perplexing to do Monday. In a initial spin of these playoffs opposite Columbus, a Capitals managed an overtime win during home in Game 5 to take a three-games-to-two lead — afterwards wrapped adult a array decisively on a highway in Game 6.
Go behind to final year. In a initial round, Washington won a pitch diversion during home to take that 3-2 lead to Toronto, where Marcus Johansson’s overtime idea wrapped adult a array in six. In a initial spin of 2016, Philadelphia managed a shutout win in Washington to force a Game 6 behind in a Flyers’ home building — and a Caps won that diversion to sign a series.
So for this group, there is precedent. There only isn’t fashion opposite Pittsburgh.
In a Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby Era — that is now in a fourth playoff array — a Capitals have never had a possibility to discharge a Penguins before a Game 7. But their record on a highway isn’t half bad. In 2009, David Steckel’s overtime idea during aged Mellon Arena won Game 6 for Washington — and a demoralization came in a seventh diversion behind home, a 6-2 stinker. Last year, they went 2-1 in Pittsburgh, including a wilful 5-2 feat in Game 6 that done it, for all a world, seem as if they were a favorites going into Game 7 behind home.
And afterwards they didn’t measure on those initial few shifts. And afterwards a tragedy in a building mounted. And afterwards a passes became harder to complete. And afterwards a Penguins played with some-more confidence.
Imagine that Monday night, in reverse. The event during palm for these Capitals is unprecedented. Yet they can’t routine it as such.
“If we’re going to consider all a way, it’s a small bit tough on we when some of those games we will lose,” pronounced Evgeny Kuznetsov, who scored Saturday’s equalizer early in a third. “It’s really tough to concentration when we consider you’re going to be best.”
So if they take that shift-by-shift approach, if they get an early idea and keep a Penguins off a board, maybe they will notice something. PPG Paints Arena will grow restless, even quiet. The Capitals, in turn, will pull appetite from a silence. They can emanate a sourroundings that so mostly has hindered them during home.
And if they don’t? If a Penguins win? Fine. No problem. There would be another chance, a seventh diversion in Washington.
Who in a universe wants to continue that?
For some-more by Barry Svrluga, revisit washingtonpost.com/svrluga.