And so, the Capitals have reached another game seven match-up in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This time, they forced a game seven against the number one-seeded New York Rangers. While the Rangers dominated play and just got out of game five with a last second, game tying goal and OT win, the Washington Capitals seemed to control game six to force a win or go home situation for both clubs. As I mentioned before game six, the Capitals have a playoffs resiliency we have not seen since the Cup run in 1998. Anything can happen in game seven but Caps players and fans have to feel good heading into Madison Square Garden for one last time in this series.
- While the Rangers were able to get shots through to Braden Holtby and beat attempted shot blocks by the Caps in game five, they were not as effective in game six. The Capitals were able to block 24 Rangers shots on their way to victory. Caps shot blockers looked more patient as they waited for Rangers shooters to find the angle they wanted. The Capitals also employed better gap discipline while defending Rangers with the puck. This has to continue in game seven.
- After losing game five on two Rangers’ power play goals after face off losses during Joel Ward’s late high sticking double minor, the Caps greatly improved their short-handed face off numbers in game six. In game five the Caps were only 13% effective at the dot when a man down. In game six the Capitals won 67% of the draws on the penalty kill. That went a long way to the Caps thwarting all five of the Rangers power play chances including a double minor assessed to Jeff Halpern in the middle of the second period. If the Caps can continue to dominate at the dots, they can control possession and the outcome of game seven.
- The power play goal scored by Alex Ovechkin within the first two minutes of the game was very refreshing to see. The Caps were able to score the first goal which is critical in a tight series and playing a defense first, Dale Hunter system. They were also able to get incredible boards-to-boards puck movement to open the middle and allow Ovi to find space in the slot to rip one past Henrik Lundqvist.
- The Rangers scored their only goal in game six by getting bodies in front of Braden Holtby and disrupting his ability to see and stop the puck. That was also the only time New York was able to do so. The Caps were very effective in boxing out Rangers attackers and allowing Holtby to see shots. Look for a renewed commitment to get to the front of the net by the Rangers bordering on goalie interference in game seven.
- Braden Holtby’s record after a loss continues to be perfect. The kid also had a kid. Good mojo heading into game seven, I think.
Game seven on a Saturday night at Madison Square Garden for a trip to Eastern Conference Finals. This is a game you want to play in as a player. The Caps looked like a very motivated and disciplined hockey team in game six. More of the same is needed in game seven. #Capsin7