With their 4-1 series victory over New York, the Washington Capitals showed that they are a much different hockey club than years past. In their series against the Rangers, the Capitals showed that not only can they get timely goal scoring, but that they can play solid defense and get good goaltending to win hockey games.
The Capitals have always been able to score, but they have never been able to play defense they way have throughout the regular season and the playoffs. Their defense blocked a ton of shots, broke up plays, and made sure to protect their netminder Michal Neuvirth. This was a defense that wanted to prove to the rest of the league that they will do whatever it takes to succeed when it matters the most.
The team also got solid goaltending from Neuvirth. Neuvirth started all five playoff games and posted one shutout, a 1.38 goals against average and a .946 save percentage in stopping 140 of 148 shots against. Not bad for someone who is just 23 years old and appearing in his first Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Lastly, and although the team didn't score much, the Capitals did get some timely scoring. Alex Semin got the OT winner in Game 1, Jason Chimera got the double overtime winner in Game 4 and Alexander Ovechkin led the team in points with 6 points (3 goals and 3 assists).
The team's offense peppered Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist every game, spent a lot of time in the the offensive zone and, while they didn't explode on the scoreboard like they used to, they showed that they have what it takes to get goals at the right time. In the playoffs, that's all that really matters, isn't it?
The Capitals will have a few days off to prepare for whoever their next opponent is; whoever it is, they better be prepared to face a much different Capitals hockey club than they have ever seen before.
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