After winning the President’s Trophy for the third time and second season in a row, the heat is on like never before in Washington.
Alexander Ovechkin finds his club down 3-1 in its series against the Pittsburgh Penguins after a 3-2 loss to Wednesday on the road.
After three straight losses to the New York Rangers in the postseason (2012-14), the Caps are facing elimination at the hands of the Penguins for the second season in a row.
Now five coaches into his career with the Washington Capitals, Ovechkin will, if he falters in this postseason, hear criticism like never before.
“I didn’t play my game tonight,” said Ovechkin, who, to his credit, did not use the word “we.”
“Me personally, I have to play much better. I didn’t control the puck well. I make stupid decisions. Unfortunately, it happened.”
Kudos to Ovechkin for his honesty, but there’s only one more chance for the “Great 8” and the Caps to redeem themselves.
Looks like some bad karma after Caps D-Man and former Penguin Matt Niskanen laid the lumber on Sid Crosby in Game 3, knocking the Penguins legend from the postseason with a concussion for the foreseeable future. (Crosby skated today but remains day-to-day).
The Penguins have used a tight, disciplined group fo backcheckers and D-man to pursue the Caps offense. Last night, Ovechkin had but two shots. Nick Backstrom had none.
“Our top players didn’t play as well as they needed to,” Trotz said.
In the nets, Marc-Andre Fleury has outperformed Braden Holtby, hands down. Wednesday, Fleury made 36 saves on 38 shots. Holtby stopped 15 of 18.
Holtby won the William Jennings Trophy (63GP: 42-13-6/9 shutouts; /2.07GAA/.925SV%) this season, and was nominated for the Vezina Trophy for the second time (he won in 2016). This postseason, however, has been tough, his numbers dipping to 2.59GAA/.909SV%.
Worse, Washington’s defense has had some brutal moments, the latest of which came last night courtesy Brooks Orpik and Karl Alzner, who could not chase down Patrick Hornqvist on a breakaway, giving the Pens the 1-0 lead at 4:39 of the first.
Marcus Johansson has two assists but no goals; TJ Oshie seeks his first goal of this series, as does Justin Williams.
Game 5 is Saturday in Washington at 7:15pm Eastern.
Ovechkin Era: 5 Head Coaches
Glen Hanlon, 2003-04 to 2007-08 (Ovechkin enters NHL in 2005-06)
Bruce Boudreau, 2007-08 to 2011-12
Dale Hunter, 2011-12
Adam Oates, 2012-13 to 2013-14
Barry Trotz, 2014-15–present