Friday, March 18, 2016

Capital Punishment: Capitals Pound the Predators 4-1

The Nashville Predators made a stop at the Phone Booth- the Verizon Center- to take on the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals have emerged from the phone booth looking like Superman this season, having already clinched a playoff spot and looking like the favorite for the President's Trophy. Head Coach Barry Trotz has his team playing like supermen, and the Predators face a daunting task in stopping the high flying Capitals.

Carter Hutton got the start with the Predators having played in Nashville the previous night. Braden Holtby was between the pipes for the Capitals.

After a scoreless first period, the Predators jumped out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Filip Forsberg power play goal.

That was the equivalent of the Predators tugging on Superman's cape.

The Caps exploded for 3 second period goals as Daniel Winnik scored twice and T.J. Oshie scored to give the Capitals a 3-1 lead going into the second intermission.

The assault by the Caps continued as Andre Burakovsky scored just 18 seconds into the third period to make it 4-1.

That was all the Capitals would need as the Predators looked lifeless and mustered no challenge in the remainder of the game.

Some observations:

  • Anthony Bitetto was scratched with a lower body injury, and Petter Granberg was back in on the blue line.
  • Don't you know it has to chap the Caps fans to see the success that Forsberg is having? The dynamic young forward is going to be a star in the League and the Caps have nothing to show for that trade with Martin Erat out of the League and Michael Latta having been traded.
  • Good to see the power play click for the second game in a row. This unit has to get some consistency and become a threat.
  • Great passing led to great scoring plays for the Capitals on their first 2 goals. They showed great vision and their passing was surgical. This was especially true on Oshie's goal as Evgeny Kuznetsov made a perfect blind backhand pass to Oshie for an easy goal.
  • That third goal by Hutton was a back breaker. I can't fault him on the first 2 goals- the Caps were spaced perfectly and had the Predators defense chasing. But that third, you just have to stop that one.
  • As hard as it is to say, the Predators just looked outclassed by the Capitals. Yes, I know that this game was the second of a back to back, but the Caps clearly had more talent and were just skating around the Predators all game. It didn't help that the team in front of Hutton didn't give him much help and they looked like they lost their confidence with Hutton in net.
  • Not a good night for Ryan Johansen, who picked up 3 minor penalties and was ineffective in the offensive zone.
  • The Predators took 20 minutes in penalties, including a 10 minute misconduct on Mike Ribeiro.
  • The Predators were dominated in the face off circle, winning just 42% of their draws, which helped the Caps possess the puck for long stretches of the night. 
  • On a positive note, the Predators killed off all 4 of the Caps power play chances, including a late 5 on 3 to end the game (to be fair, the Caps weren't trying to score with the 2 man advantage over the last 35 seconds of regulation).
You could call this game a measuring stick game against the best team in the NHL, and the Predators were found wanting. Yes, the Caps were rested and the Predators were fatigued. But they lacked any jump and the miscues cost them some goals.

It's a learning experience. A painful one.

And the Predators learned that you don't tug on superman's cape.

My three stars:

1. Daniel Winnik

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov

3. Filip Forsberg

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