The story of the Caps 2022 postseason is one of missed opportunities

Sunday, May 15, 2022
author picture Louis Robert
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Washington Capitals 2022 Postseason

The Washington Capitals are 8-12-2 this season‚ a miserable finish when compared to the Canadiens‚ Blackhawks‚ and Coyotes. The Capitals have seen a dramatic drop in several key five-on-five statistical categories‚ including shot attempts‚ expected goals‚ scoring chances‚ and high-danger chances. In this article‚ we will take a look at some of the reasons behind the team's poor performance.

Washington Capitals lost to Florida Panthers in overtime in 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs

The Washington Capitals were knocked out in the Stanley Cup final by the Florida Panthers on Friday night. The Capitals had led five times in the series before being defeated in the sixth game of overtime. The Capitals held a 3-0 lead in Game 4 before blowing the game in the third period. Washington played the way they wanted‚ keeping the Panthers' shots to the outside and holding a majority of high-danger chances. The first period was a stalemate. Giroux tied the game with a goal that deflated the boisterous crowd. The Panthers' first goal came on a power play with Claude Giroud in the box. Washington capitalized by flooding the net and forcing overtime. The Capitals then tied the game with a goal from Giroux‚ a secondary assist from Verhaeghe. With just under two minutes left‚ the Capitals pulled Samsonov to give them an extra skater. Gu Forsling was called for a tripping call on T.J. Oshie. After a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Penguins‚ the Capitals were eliminated in the first round. Florida advanced to the second round with a win over the Capitals. In 2022‚ the Capitals will face the Lightning in the second round. They'll play the winners of the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs series. Game seven is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. The series ended in a shootout‚ which meant the Caps would need to win Game 6 as well. The Capitals had a 3-0 series lead in Game 5 before the Panthers stormed back and forced overtime. The Capitals were unable to sustain this momentum‚ despite scoring two goals in the third period. Despite the goal from Marcus Johansson‚ the Capitals couldn't hold on to the lead‚ and the Panthers would go on to win the series in the end. The Capitals' playoff series was largely a result of injuries. Tom Wilson didn't even play a full game in Game 5 and Alex Ovechkin tended to pass more often than shoot during the series. Although Ovechkin had a good season and three players surpassed the 20-goal mark this year‚ two of them were out for most of the series with injuries.

Washington's offense has been inconsistent

The Redskins have struggled to score points this postseason. While their offense ranks 30th in total yards and 26th in points‚ they have managed to keep their games close against the Seahawks‚ 49ers‚ and Panthers. The defense has been strong in these games‚ keeping Washington in the game when it looked like the team might get out of control. Despite the struggles on offense‚ the defense is one of the best in the league. The Huskies' defense has been the most consistent in the postseason‚ but they have had trouble scoring touchdowns. Washington's offense has been inconsistent‚ allowing the Chiefs to score touchdowns in each of their first two games. While Kirk Cousins has been impressive in the air‚ the team's rush offense was one of the worst in the league. Alfred Morris led the Huskies with 751 rushing yards‚ but their defense allowed more points than any other playoff team. The running game has been the biggest weakness this season. Despite the run game‚ Washington hasn't shown its full potential in the postseason. Despite a great starting quarterback and a good offensive line‚ Washington's offense hasn't been consistent. The Redskins have averaged only two first-quarter touchdown passes this season. Washington has been inconsistent in the postseason despite its talent at the position. The Washington Redskins are now 6-8 and need to win the series to make the playoffs. They will be without one of their top targets‚ Antonio Gibson. Gibson missed practice on Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. However‚ the backup running back Jaret Patterson had only 41 carries all season. But if Gibson is out‚ Washington must be cautious as his absence will impact the offensive line. The Redskins' quarterback‚ Todd Heinicke‚ isn't a natural passer but he has some creativity. Despite his inexperience‚ Heinicke is a highly competitive player and is capable of extending plays in a time of high pressure. He doesn't have the athleticism or speed of a true quarterback‚ but he can win a game by utilizing his creativity.

Nicklas Backstrom's playoff spot depends on Nicklas Backstrom

The Capitals' playoff hopes rest on a healthy Nicklas Backstrom. Nicklas Backstrom has been sidelined with an injury to his right hand. Although the injury was minor‚ Backstrom missed four games. He did not return to the lineup on Saturday‚ but he is unlikely to be ready for Sunday's game. Backstrom will be examined by a doctor to determine what's wrong with him. On Tuesday‚ Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz praised Backstrom's performance against the New York Rangers. Backstrom has not played since May 23rd‚ Game 5 of the opening round of last season's playoffs. The veteran center played 18 shifts and registered two hits and one takeaway. He won 47 percent of his 15 faceoffs‚ including the game-opening draw against Kirby Dach. He also led the Capitals in offensive zone possession time. With Nicklas Backstrom's return‚ the Capitals can secure their playoff spot. The team is currently in the second round of the Eastern Conference‚ with the Penguins and Capitals fighting for the first seed. However‚ they need Backstrom to be healthy and produce offensively to earn a playoff spot. Backstrom has only played in 39 games this season‚ but he's already surpassed the team's expectations for goals scored this season. While the Capitals need to win to get a playoff spot‚ the season is still far from over. Nicklas Backstrom's goal at the end of regulation was the difference in the game. The Capitals had a chance to advance to the conference finals if they play well this postseason. They have one goal in the East‚ while the Devils need two goals to advance to the next round. If Backstrom can continue to produce at the same level‚ the Capitals will be a contender. He's been playing for the Capitals since the 2007-08 season‚ and has become one of the league's most consistent playmakers. His 26 points and two assists in seven playoff games this season led the NHL in both categories. If Backstrom can play in the postseason‚ his team will have a shot to make the playoffs‚ and it will help the team's chances to advance.

Washington's penalty kill has been deteriorating the overall game

The Capitals' postseason penalty kill is much like the team's regular-season penalty kill‚ which is at a high-end level. Washington's penalty rate is the highest it has been since the 2015-16 season and is likely to top the league average. A perfect penalty kill is not enough to combat this degradation of the players. Rather‚ the best way to counter this is to stay out of the box. The Capitals' recent struggles have been evident‚ but their recent performance on special teams has also been troubling. In December‚ the team had a special teams index of 111.9‚ meaning they killed 111.9 percent of their opponents' power plays. The Caps scored only one goal on three power plays in 14 games‚ while their opponents scored nine times as many. Washington's penalty kill was tied for third in the league in December‚ but the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets were better on the road.