Desperation Sometimes Brings Out the Best in a Team

Posted August 18, 2020

Evgeny Kuznetsov is getting more playing time with Nicklas Backstrom’s injury (Caps Outsider)

Caps defenseman Brenden Dillon on Tuesday said that it took all of ten periods for the Caps to start playing, and that was before Alex Ovechkin put in the 3rd period winner to stave off elimination against the Islanders.

After yet another lackluster first period, where Braden Holtby gave up a goal that appeared to go through a hole in his torso, the Caps could see not only their season ending, but an era ending. While major changes still could happen, like Holtby leaving, coaches getting beheaded, and other lineup changes that make the team look even less like the 2018 championship squad, the players still have their pride. No one was more pumped up than Alex Ovechkin, who scored twice. Lay it all out on the table. Don’t save your energy for the next game or shift. Losses still might happen, but go down swinging. This mindset gave them a burst of energy that sometimes only happens because of the circumstances. The Islanders flinched and fell this time, but still have three more chances to close this series out.

While it’s obviously great the Caps were able to summon this energy, and win, the problem now is that they’ve got no more room for error. It’s tough maintaining this level of play for four consecutive games, otherwise teams would be routinely coming back from 3-games-0 series deficits. Plus, if the Islanders respond, we’re back to coin-flip hockey, a game the Caps know all too well.

The odds are still stacked against the Caps in this series but if they continue playing at the level that they did in the second and third period on Thursday, Barry Trotz and the Islanders will have to reach down just as far to close this series out.