Caps turn to home-ice for game three versus Bruins
Coming into the series, nobody thought that 22-year-old Braden Holtby, with zero playoff experience, could match Tim Thomas save-for-save.
But the Caps' young netminder has done just that, even slightly out-dueling Boston's former Vezina Trophy winner.
Holtby carries a .83 GAA into game three in D.C. and a sparkling .973 save percentage. Not to mention that he's stopped 72 of 74 shots in those two games, answering some of the questions surrounding the Caps' ominous goaltending situation entering the playoffs. Thomas hasn't been all that bad either, tending the cage to the tune of the same .83 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
With just four goals scored combined in two games so far, expect the defensive stalemate to continue at Verizon Center. Both teams have done a terrific job eliminating odd-man rushes, and when they've been allowed, the goalies have been fantastic.
Neither team has scored a powerplay goal in two games, showing more how reliant these two both are on five-on-five play. That's a stark contrast to some of the other series in the East, namely the Penguins and Flyers, who seem to fail to spend more than a minute or two at even strength. Simply put, one of these teams' special teams units will catch on and lead them in the series. It's a total dead heat right now, folks.
For Boston, they have to get Tyler Seguin's speed game going against a beatable, and slow, Capitals defense on the edges. The Bruins also need to do a better job of containing Caps rushes on the edge, where they were burned by Marcus Johansson on Nicklas Backstrom's game-winner in game two.
For Washington, Dale Hunter and Co. have to get Alex Ovechkin away from Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. That should be easier with the last change at home, but nonetheless, free Ovechkin has to be the focus of the Caps' coaching staff. The Caps also need to limit the shot totals on Holtby. I know he's stopping the puck and being aggressive, but he shouldn't have to face 35+ shots a game, some pucks are bound to find their way in. Blocking more shots as a team could alleviate pressure and create some rushes the other way. I'd also like to see the Caps get more pucks to the net on Thomas. As an extremely aggressive goaltender, a simply deflection off a skate, from either team, could be a huge momentum changer.
Either way you slice it, game three will be a good one. Two solid defensive teams locked in a tight battle, that's playoff hockey. Enjoy.