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Confidence is high. Repeat, confidence is high.

Posted By Ryan Cleaver On Apr 16 2010 @ 4:26 pm In Washington Capitals | 1 Comment

There’s an instant after a playoff overtime loss when the crowd is paralyzed.  The disconnect between what’s expected and the actual outcome and the inability to move on after a loss freezes you in place.  It’s at that instant that the heady fan makes a beeline for their car, for those 3 or 4 seconds equate to 15 or 20 minutes in downtown Washington, DC.  Going into last night, the Capitals were 1-4 in overtime playoff games under Boudreau (1-7 in their last 8 as a franchise), so maybe it’s surprising more people weren’t prepared.

I’ve been trying to come up for a reason for their lack of success after regulation.  They’ve had so many games this year where they’ve started slow and came back to overcome multiple goal deficits, and obviously there’s no coming back in overtime.  But you’ve got to look at the shift lengths of Washington’s top line as a factor, because while the Caps generally own the third period, they’ve looked tentative and tired in overtimes the last few years, resulting in enormous penalties.

On the bright side, the Caps comfortably outshot the Habs 47-37 without Ovechkin putting any on goal and dominated faceoffs 45-26 with Fleishmann as the 2nd center..  Jose Theodore was the Capitals best player, and the Caps aren’t losing too many games when that happens.  John Carlson looked terrific and in his first playoff game.  Home ice is truly meaningless in this series because I cannot overstate the horrid condition of the ice last night at the Verizon Center.  Washington is a skilled team and as it deteriorated over the course of the game it clearly had an effect on their passing and decisions to hold on to the puck.

The Capitals could easily win this series without Ovechkin as his usual, dominant self.  The Canadians are clearly focused on shutting him down.  Ovechkin floating at the edge of the offensive zone brings two or three Habs with him, and once the Caps adjust they won’t get much resistance breaking the puck out of the defensive zone against Montreal’s diminutive forwards.  I’m still confident Washington wins this series.

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