Why Game Four Is So Important For The Capitals Veterans

If they go out they must go out the right way
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals / Patrick Smith/GettyImages

The Washington Capitals series vs the New York Rangers is not going well. Not for the Capitals anyways. I'm sure the Rangers and their fans would say differently. We are now three games into the series and the Caps are still looking for their first win. Down 0-3, never a spot you want to be in.

No one in their right mind was picking the Capitals to win this series. But you did have people, such as myself, who thought they would at least make this series competitive. I don't know about anyone else but I do think this series has been close.

None of the games in this 0-3 series have been blowouts. When you look at some numbers the Capitals have actually been the better team. For example they have the edge in both scoring chances and high danger attempts in this series. Their scoring chance percentage is 52.08% and their high danger attempts percentage is a really impressive 56.76%. We'll talk about the stats of this series another day. That is just showing you this is not as one sided a series as 0-3 tells you.

No one was picking the Capitals to win this series. Less are now. But, how this series goes from now on is is still important. At least in my eyes. How does this team play now that they are in the playoffs and in a nearly impossible spot. We've seen how this team responds to being in a tough spot in the regular season when they are in a tougher spot, it went well.

Maybe this is just years of scar tissue building up. It's probably watching this Capitals team and this Capitals core looking somewhat, or maybe just flat out, lackadaisical in the playoffs at times. At least since they won the Cup back in 2018.

This Capitals core did something that bothered me so much back in 2019. They never were able to turn it on after winning the Cup. That was a very good team that year. All year they played poorly and were just able to turn it on briefly in games and play well for 15-20 minutes, overwhelm teams and either coast to a win, or come from behind to win. If my memory serves me right they had a lot of come from behind wins that year.

All year that year it was a team that played like and acted like "we know what to do, there is no panic in this team. We'll turn it on when we need to." They did that in the regular season and then when the playoffs came they lost to the Hurricanes in seven games and in multiple spots in that series they got dominated. That Capitals team was too good to get dominated. They were way too good to lose. It almost felt like they rested on the fact that they had finally won the Cup and they lost to a team that simply just wanted it more. More annoyingly, fans seemed to not be that upset about that series loss, instead posting pictures and still celebrating a Cup win from the last year. That was a weird season. It was a season that felt like a season long victory lap.


Almost every year since that year the Caps and the veterans on this team have not performed well in the playoffs. They acted like they didn't even want to be in the bubble in 2020. They got beat up by the Bruins in 2021. Even in 2022 vs the Florida Panthers, they actually played pretty well that series, but even being the better team a lot in that series, found ways to lose that series in 6 games. Then of course they miss the playoffs altogether last season. They snuck in the dance this year, partially thanks to the bottom of the east being so weak this season.

It's likely all of that that is leading me to have very little faith in the veterans on this Capitals team to do well in game four and maybe beyond in this series vs the Rangers. But it is important that they do.

There's a lot of young guys on the Capitals team. Connor McMichael, Hendrix Lapierre, Aliaksei Protas, Ivan Miroshnichenko is around and played in game 3. On the back end you got Alexander Alexeyev. Rasmus Sandin is around although hurt right now, but who also comes from a franchise who is known for not getting it done in big moments. Dylan Strome, while not as young as some of these guys, this is basically his first go around in situations like this. For the lack of a better way of saying it, there are a lot of young impressionable guys on this team right now. How do the veterans show them how to act and perform in situations like this. Because it's a group that hasn't done well since 2019.

It's really important that we see guys like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, John Carlson, Tom Wilson, even a Max Pacioretty, who is not a core member of this team, but a league veteran, perform well to close out this series. Whether they lose in game 4 or maybe force 7 games. Show these young guys, show the future of this team that it doesn't matter that this team, frankly isn't supposed to be here. This isn't a playoff caliber team. But they are in. They are here and they are playing the Presidents Trophy winning team and they're down 0-3.

The veterans, the guys who have been there, who have seen everything this league and the professional level has to offer, need to step up and show that the series isn't over until a final horn has sounded.

It should not be the young guys leading this team in Game 4 and beyond. If they do then great. Maybe that is the sign they are ready to step up and take the leadership from this current Capitals core. But they shouldn't be expected to.

How does it look if the vets on this team come out and don't give a great effort? Or just look bad? They've done it before in the playoffs. They've come out in big games and looked like..."eh". Would it surprise you if they did it again? Probably shouldn't.

This year, this is a team that fights. They fought all the way to the end to just simply get in the playoffs. It's time to do it again. It's time for the veterans to lead by example and show the young guys, the future of this team how you go out. Scratching, clawing and fighting 'til the last second. We'll see if they can do that.