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Capitals vs. Maple Leafs Playoffs 2017: Three reasons to be confident in the Caps against the Maple Leafs

Capitals vs. Maple Leafs Playoffs 2017: Three reasons to be confident in the Caps against the Maple Leafs

Earlier I wrote 3 reasons why the Toronto Maple Leafs could do the unthinkable and pull off the upset over the Washington Capitals. As Game 1 draws closer (7 p.m., CSN), let's take a more positive look. Here are three reasons why you should feel confident that Washington will be able to get the job done in the first round.

1. Braden Holtby

One thing Washington did not have in the infamous Montreal series of 2010 was a dependable goalie. Jose Theodore started the first two games of the series but was pulled in Game 2 with a .875 save percentage and 3.70 GAA. That’s bad. Semyon Varlamov took over for Theodore and was better, but still not great with a .908 save percentage and 2.41 GAA. Braden Holtby currently has the best save playoff save percentage ever at .938. Varlamov was not the ultimate downfall of the Caps in 2010, but Washington led the series 3-1 after four games. How different would that series have been with better goaltending through those first four games?

RELATED: Who Trotz believes can be an x-factor for the Caps

2. Toronto’s defense

The Maple Leafs seem to have an aversion to two-goal leads given how often they seemed to give them away. Of all 16 playoff teams, no one allowed more goals per game in the regular season (2.85) than Toronto. That defense also took a hit with the news that Nikita Zaitsev will miss Game 1, Washington’s offense should be able to make short work of the Maple Leafs’ blue line.

3. Toronto’s Inexperience

The Caps may have struggled to go deep into the postseason the last few years, but over time they still have accumulated a good amount of playoff experience. Coming into this series, Washington has 1,017 games of combined playoff experience. Toronto? Only 292. Experience matters in the postseason. Inexperience is why things spiraled out of Columbus’ control Wednesday against Pittsburgh. Inexperience is why Edmonton gave up a 2-0 lead at home against San Jose on Wednesday. Inexperience is a big reason why no one is giving Toronto much of a chance in this series.

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz mum on Carlson's status for Game 1

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Want to witness history? Why Saturday's game is a good bet for Alex Ovechkin to score 700

Want to witness history? Why Saturday's game is a good bet for Alex Ovechkin to score 700

Alex Ovechkin is capable of scoring any time against any team, but if you're trying to pinpoint when history could happen and see goal No. 700, there are plenty of reasons to be watching Saturday's marquee matchup against the New Jersey Devils (1 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).

In three games this season, Ovechkin has scored four times against New Jersey. On Jan. 16, he was bloodied by a high stick from Miles Wood and left for the locker room returning before the first period was up and scored twice. He did not just get mad, he got even and completed the hat trick in the third period.

Head coach Alain Nasreddine did not reveal who his starter would be in net on Friday, but it will be either MacKenzie Blackwood or Cory Schneider. Keep your fingers crossed for Schneider.

Schneider has not played an NHL game since Jan. 18 and was recalled from the AHL on Thursday most likely because Louis Domingue is headed out of town in a trade and the team wanted to protect the asset. Schneider has a 4.65 GAA and .852 save percentage in nine games. Ovechkin has also had plenty of success against him in the past, scoring eight times against the Devils netminder. He has only managed one goal on Blackwood, but it came this season on Dec. 12, 2019.

Ovechkin has a history of success against the Devils. In 56 games against New Jersey, Ovechkin scored in 22 of them. He has 29 total goals including two of his 28 career hat tricks against the Devils.

New Jersey ranks 30th in the NHL in goals against and, although they have improved in that area since Jan. 1, they still rank 21st in that time keeping the puck out of the net.

Add in the fact that the trade deadline firesale has already begun with the Devils shipping out Blake Coleman and captain Andy Greene in the past week, as well as Taylor Hall back in December, and this may be a team not ready to stop Ovechkin's march to history.

With Ovechkin on the verge of 700, there's no doubt that Saturday's marquee matchup (1 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) is one you won't want to miss.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, makes an appearance during Capitals practice

Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, makes an appearance during Capitals practice

The Capitals had a special guest during their morning skate on Friday.

Alex Ovechkin's son, Sergei, got to pay his father a visit at the Medstar Capitals Iceplex.

Ovechkin carried his one-year-old around the ice and even put him down on the ice to practice his skills. Sergei had a mini stick of his own, almost like he was ready to play if needed.

No word yet on whether Sergei plans on declaring for the upcoming NHL draft, but the kid has already got some skills--and not to mention pretty good genes.

If you were having a bad day, this moment between Ovechkin and his son will certainly cheer you up!

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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