Washington Capitals: Takeaways From Game Four

Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Washington Capitals got the win that they needed to tie their first round series against the Islanders at two games each. The Washington Capitals won 2-1 in overtime thanks to their playoff hero Nicklas Backstrom‘s overtime goal. Here are some takeaways and thoughts from the game four victory. Feel free to agree or disagree.

Washington Capitals Takeaways

  1. Braden Holtby is an outstanding goalie. His stats might not say that he’s definitely a top five goalie, but performances like last night (and game three) are why he absolutely is a top five goaltender in my mind. Holtby has won numerous games for the Washington Capitals this season that the Washington Capitals didn’t really deserve to win. One of those games was last night. He saved 36 out of the 37 shots that he faced last night. He kept the Washington Capitals in the game even when their offense was struggling to do anything. He faced eight shots while the Caps were shorthanded and he saved all eight of them. He was their best penalty killer and their best player last night. I’m beginning to expect these kind of clutch performances from Holtby. If he keeps it up, the Washington Capitals could go far in the playoffs assuming the offense gives him leads to work with.
  2. The Washington Capitals best players showed up last night. Alex Ovechkin got the scoring started for the Caps in the first period and had the secondary assist on Backstrom’s game winner. Backstrom had another incredible night with two points. Holtby was outstanding. The New York Islanders best players (John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Okposo and Nick Leddy) combined for one secondary assist. When your best players are your best players, you have a great chance of winning.
  3. I’m not a huge fan of Joel Ward being on the first line, so I’ll be fair and give him credit for having a very solid game. If Ward does more of what he did in game four, he’s a nice complementary linemate for Backstrom and Ovechkin. Ward screened Jaroslav Halak on both of the Washington Capitals’ goals last night. I think Halak moved about two and a half inches combined on those two goals. It’s very difficult for goalies to stop what they can’t see. The Washington Capitals need to do more of what Ward did on those two goals. They have the size advantage, they should be exploiting that more often. 
  4. Last night, Tom Wilson leveled Lubomir Visnovsky and Visnovsky had to leave the game. Wilson got two minutes for charging. Here’s my thoughts on it. I think it wasn’t an awful call. NHL refs don’t have the luxury of slow motion replay like fans do. They have to make those calls at game speed as they happen. That’s extremely difficult. That was borderline charging (though I don’t think it was), so it’s certainly not an awful call. I hope Visnovsky is OK. Wilson hit Visnovsky cleanly, Visnovsky just landed in about the worst position that he could have. It sucks, but it happens in hockey. Eric Fehr was injured in a very similar way. For obvious reasons, Washington Capitals and Islanders fans seem to have opposite opinions about the hit. Both sides are biased, so our opinions on it are largely irrelevant. What matters is what the NHL thinks. I say let’s let the NHL do their job and determine if Wilson’s hit deserves supplemental discipline.
  5. Heck of a game from Brooks Orpik. He got a skate to the face courtesy of John Carlson, got stitched up, and was back out there like nothing happened. Say what you want about his contract, he’s one of the toughest guys in the league and I’m glad he’s on the Washington Capitals.
  6. Jay Beagle was terrific on the penalty kill last night. As long as he’s not a top six forward for the Washington Capitals, I’m glad he’s on the team. He’s earned a pay raise because he’s having a career year and it’s a contract year for him. I hope the Caps can keep him without giving him an outrageous contract.

Lastly, let me leave you with quite possibly the best quote ever.

What were some of your takeaways from game four? I’d love to hear them! Post them in the w comment section if you want!