The Islanders Are the Better Team Right Now

Posted August 14, 2020

Alex Ovechkin scored twice but missed an open net which could have changed the momentum of the game. (Caps Outsider)

In the Caps’ Game One loss to the Islanders, we could pinpoint very specific things they did wrong, which wasted their 2-0 lead and turned it into a 4-2 loss. Those mistakes, including Braden Holtby’s gaffs, are things that good teams ordinarily improve on in the next game.

On Friday, it felt for a bit like they did improve, even after they gave up a power play goal through a screen, which happens even to great teams. Then the mistakes started, as turnovers by Lars Eller and Jakub Vrana led directly to Islanders goals.

Where it became very apparent that the Islanders are the better team, and not just beneficiaries of Caps mistakes, was the shift with about three minutes to go in the game. Up 3-2, the Islanders’ forecheck suffocated the Caps. So instead of a heroic play to tie the game late, and then perhaps win in overtime as we’ve seen the Caps do plenty of times, they allowed themselves to be curb-stomped, losing 5-2.

These aren’t coin-flip games where the Caps are losing by an inch – we’ve seen enough of those to last a lifetime. The Caps are making mistakes and they still have time to improve on them, but the Islanders, led my former Caps coach Barry Trotz, are better prepared than the Capitals right now, and the Caps now must win four of the next five games to avoid yet another Round One flameout.