Round 1: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Capital vs. Hurricanes Schedule:
Game 1: Hurricanes at Capitals. Thursday, 4/11 at 7:30 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC Sports Washington)
Game 2: Hurricanes at Capitals. Saturday, 4/13 at 3:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC)
Game 3: Capitals at Hurricanes. Monday, 4/15 at 7:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC Sports Washington)
Game 4: Capitals at Hurricanes. Thursday, 4/18 at 7:00 p.m. ET. (Broadcast on NBC Sports Washington)
Game 5 (If Necessary): Hurricanes at Capitals. Saturday, 4/20 at Time TBD. (Channel TBD)
Game 6 (If Necessary): Capitals at Hurricanes. Monday, 4/22 at Time TBD. (Channel TBD)
Game 7 (If Necessary): Hurricanes at Capitals. Wednesday, 4/24 at Time TBD. (Channel TBD)
Capitals vs. Hurricanes Stats that Matter:
Washington Capitals Team Stats:
- 48-26-8, 104 points, first in the Metropolitan Division
- 3.34 goals per game (5th)
- 3.02 goals against per game (16th)
- 20.8-percent power play percentage (12th)
- 78.9-percent penalty kill percentage (24th)
Carolina Hurricanes Team Stats:
- 46-29-7, 99 points, first wild card
- 2.96 goals per game (16th)
- 2.70 goals against per game (tied for 7th)
- 17.8 power play percentage (20th)
- 81.6-percent penalty kill percentage (8th)
Washington Capitals Top Performers:
Goals: 1) Alex Ovechkin: 51, 2) T.J. Oshie: 25, 3) Jakub Vrana: 24
Assists: 1) John Carlson: 57, 2) Nicklas Backstrom: 52, 3) Evgeny Kuznetsov: 51
Points: 1) Alex Ovechkin: 89, 2) Nicklas Backstrom: 74, 3) Evgeny Kuznetsov: 72
Carolina Hurricanes Top Performers:
Goals: 1) Sebastian Aho: 30, 2) Justin Williams: 23, 3) Teuvo Teravainen: 21
Assists: 1) Teuvo Teravainen: 55, 2) Sebastian Aho: 53, 3) Justin Williams: 30
Points: 1) Sebastian Aho: 83, 2) Teuvo Tervainen: 76, 3) Justin Williams: 53
Washington Capitals Goaltending:
Braden Holtby: 59 GP, 32-19-5 record, .911 save percentage, 2.82 GAA, 3 shutouts
Pheonix Copley: 27 GP, 16-7-3 record, .905 save percentage, 2.90 GAA, 1 shutout
Carolina Hurricanes Goaltending:
Petr Mrazek: 40 GP, 23-14-3 record, .914 save percentage, 2.69 GAA, 4 shutouts
Curtis McElhinney: 33 GP, 20-11-2 record, .912 save percentage, 3.34 GAA, 2 shutouts
Scott Darling: 8 GP, 2-4-2 record, .884 save percentage, 3.34 GAA, 0 shutouts
Alex Nedeljkovic: 1 GP, 1-0-0 record, .923 save percentage, 2.00 GAA, 0 shutouts
Capitals vs. Hurricanes Head-to-head record:
Capitals won season series 4-0-0
Dec. 14: 6-5 Capitals win (shootout)
Alex Ovechkin scored his second hat trick in as many games to help the Caps overcome a 4-1 deficit and force a shootout. Jakub Vrana scored the winner in the sixth round.
Dec. 27: 3-1 Capitals win
Washington completely locked it down on defense and Braden Holtby did the rest, turning aside 28 out of 29 shots for the win.
March 26: 4-1 Capitals win
After battling to a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes, Washington broke the game open in the third period with three goals.
March 28: 3-2 Capitals win
The Caps swept both legs of a home-and-home with the Hurricanes, rallying back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period in Raleigh. Washington scored twice in the final frame with Nic Dowd deflecting the game winner past goalie Curtis McElhinney.
Three keys of the series for Washington:
1. Goaltending: Petr Mrazek is one of the hottest goalies in the NHL since the trade deadline. In that time, he has gone 9-2-0 with a .943 save percentage and 1.72 GAA. If that goalie shows up in the playoffs, the Caps are in trouble.
But will he?
Mrazek is on his third NHL team in two seasons. He was even left exposed in the Vegas expansion draft and was not taken. This is not a goalie many teams look at as a starter. He has done well in a goalie tandem with McElhinney this season, but can he handle being the No. 1 for playoff series? He is a sink or swim goalie and Carolina’s hopes for a first-round upset will likely sink or swim with him.
2. Physical play: The Capitals can play a number of different styles, but they are really at their best when they are physically wearing down opponents.
The Hurricanes are not a heavy team. Will they be able to keep track of Ovechkin while Wilson is throwing his weight around? Will their defense be able to withstand the grinding cycle Washington employs in the offensive zone? Will their offense be able to withstand the physical beating the Caps’ blue line imposes on opponents at the blue line?
If the answer is no, Carolina is going to get worn down very quickly.
3. Figuring out the defense: The injury to Michal Kempny is a big blow and it was made worst by the fact that it happened so close to the end of the regular season. As a result, head coach Todd Reirden really has not had much time to figure out what the ideal defensive lineup looks like without Kempny in it.
Is playing Carlson on the left, his off-side, really the best solution? Can he find chemistry with Nick Jensen?
If Carlson has to go back to the right, who plays on the top pairing with him? Will it be just one player or a platoon? The Hurricanes most likely do not have the offensive depth to keep up with Washington, but if the top defensive pairing proves to be a weakness Carolina is able to exploit, that will greatly mitigate Washington’s advantage in offensive depth.
Capitals vs. Hurricanes Expert Picks:
Craig Laughlin, Capitals color commentator: Capitals in 5
Ryan Billie, Capitals producer: Capitals in 6
Brian McNally, Capitals beat writer: Capitals in 7
JJ Regan, Capitals beat writer: Capitals in 5
Brent Johnson, on-air analyst: Capitals 6
Alan May, on-air analyst: Capitals in 5
Al Koken, Capitals game reporter: Capitals in 6
Rob Carlin, host of Caps Pregame Live and Caps Postgame Live: Capitals in 5
Joe Beninati, Capitals play by play commentator: Capitals in 6
Grant Paulsen, host of Caps FaceOff Live and Caps Overtime Live: Capitals in 6
Courtney Laughlin, on-air analyst: Capitals in 6
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