The Capitals have dug themselves a 0-2 series hole against the Columbus Blue Jackets and will have a difficult time digging their way out. Washington has been in this position before and, as you would expect, they rarely end up winning those series.
But they have done it before.
Here’s a look at all the times the Capitals have lost the first two games of a playoff series:
1990: 0-2 to the Boston Bruins in the Wales Conference Final, lost series in four games
1994: 0-2 to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, lost series in five games
1998: 0-2 to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals, lost series in four games
2000: 0-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, lost series five games
2009: 0-2 to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, won series in seven games
2011: 0-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, lost series in four games
2017: 0-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Second Round, lost series in seven games
2018: 0-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round, ???
Before this year, the Caps have lost the first two games seven times and six times they lost the series. But in 2009, they were able to come back against the Rangers and win in seven games.
That series also has a number of similarities to this year’s series that can provide some hope to Caps fans.
First, Washington was the favored team in that series as well and lost both games at home. In fact, the Caps did not even tie the series in New York. Washington won Game 3, but lost Game 4 and still managed to come back from a 3-1 deficit by winning the final three games.
One of the major problems for the Caps against Columbus has been penalties. Washington has given up eight power plays to the Blue Jackets. They gave up nine to the Rangers in the first two games.
Worried about a hot goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky? Well, Henrik Lundqvist was better. Bobrovsky has saved 81 of the 88 shots he has faced this series for a save percentage of .920. Lundqvist was phenomenal in the first two games with 67 saves on 70 shots. Game 2 was actually a 1-0 shutout win for the Rangers. Lundqvist registered a .957 save percentage in those first two games.
But surely the Caps’ goalie situation spells trouble this year, right? Well, in 2009 goaltending was a bigger issue. Jose Theodore gave up four goals on 21 shots in Game 1 and was replaced by Semyon Varlamov in Game 2. Varlamov had played in only six NHL games to that point when he was asked to take over.
If a rookie goalie can lead the Caps back from a 2-0 deficit, surely the Vezina Trophy-winning Braden Holtby is capable of doing the same.
And by the way, who was the head coach of that Rangers team? A guy by the name of John Tortorella. Sound familiar?