Poor Goaltending Costs the Caps in Game 1

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Posted August 12, 2020

This is something that happens in bad beer league games. With the score tied 2-2, the Caps, on the power play, had the puck cleared into their zone, and Braden Holtby went to play it. Alex Ovechkin, with Brock Nelson on his back, skated toward the area where players normally go to retrieve the pass from the goalie.

Holtby strangely didn’t seem to see Nelson and passed the puck to Ovi. Nelson then stole the puck and passed to Josh Bailey, who scored short-handed and which gave the Islanders a 3-2 third period lead. They would score again and win the game 4-2.

Goalies will give up bad goals sometimes – as Holtby did earlier in the game – but there’s a difference between shots a goalie should have saved, and thoughtless play that gives unnecessary opportunities to the other team. In his analysis on NBC, Anson Carter mentioned what goalies are trained to do: Play the puck behind the net so there isn’t an awkward exchange. Why didn’t Holtby either play it behind the net, or cover it? Already missing Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller, the Caps had even more reason to play cautiously.

On the plus side, the Caps battled hard the first two periods, taking a 2-0 lead late into the second period. T.J. Oshie, with two goals and an amazing save, played his heart out.

Fortunately for the Caps, the mistakes they made Wednesday are correctable, but teams typically get burned when they hand playoff games away on a platter.