Capitals

Quick Links

Holtby's shutout performance earns praises of his teammates

usatsi_8551803.jpg

Holtby's shutout performance earns praises of his teammates

Goaltender Braden Holtby will downplay the fact that in his playoff career with the Capitals he is 10-2 in games that follow his own losses. And in all of those 10 wins, he has allowed two or fewer goals.

His teammates won’t.

“He’s so competitive he doesn’t want to lose twice in a row,” Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said after watching Holtby record a 30-save shutout in a 1-0 win in Game 3, giving the Caps a 2-1 series lead. “He doesn’t want lose ever, for that matter. His preparation and his battle level and his poise is second to none as far as goalies I’ve played with.”

“Outstanding,” added Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen. “I’m not surprised. I’ve said this before. I’m not a goalie expert but he looks like he’s seeing the puck really well and not allowing a lot of rebounds. As a team I thought we did a good job of keeping them to the outside and he was scooping them up.”

“There were a couple chaotic shifts, but I thought Holtby, obviously, he was our best player,” Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “He settled everything down for us.”

Holtby’s shutout was the second of his playoff career and came exactly two years since his first, which came on May 4, 2013 in a 1-0 overtime victory against the Rangers. Holtby was aided by 27 blocked shots Monday night, including a game-high of seven by Niskanen and five each by Mike Green and John Carlson.  

Sixteen of those blocked shots came in the third period, when the Rangers threw everything in their arsenal at Holtby.

“Those scrums in and around the crease, they can be a little frantic, tying up sticks, trying to knock guys over,” Brouwer said. “Sometimes you don’t even know where the puck is. You’re swinging at air and hoping you hit something.”

“It was a little crazy,” Holtby said. “But I thought we did a great job of controlling our game plan and taking [two] icings when we didn’t have plays. The guys played really good in front of me.”

And for their efforts the crowd serenaded Holtby with boisterous chants of his surname. 

“You can hear it,” he said, straight-faced, “and I really appreciate it. It’s pretty flattering. But they can shout my name the other way pretty quickly.”

[RELATED: Behind masterful performance from Holtby, Caps take Game 3 1-0]

Quick Links

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

las_vegas-sign-no_caps-stanley_cup_final.jpg
Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS: