The Washington Capitals
The Carolina Hurricanes have done this before
The name of the game for the Canes was desperation in the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, and it is this lightning in a bottle that they will need to capture in a potential playoff series against the Washington Capitals.
No Caniac will easily forget the elation that they felt when the Carolina Hurricanes moved onto the second round of the 2019 playoffs after toppling the Washington Capitals after a grueling second overtime victory in Game Seven. In many ways, it has come to define the organization that has embraced the label of the underdog.
Because much has been written about that playoff series, I will only say that the Canes have to maintain that sense of desperation against the Capitals that they displayed in the playoff series as it separates the great teams from the elite teams.
The Canes went two and two against the Capitals in their regular-season matchups. I find the Canes to match up pretty evenly with the Capitals, and I would be among many who would look forward to a potential playoff series.
There is no question in most fans’ minds that Alex Ovechkin is the most dangerous player on the ice at any given time. A microcosm of his ability on the ice is showcased during the October 5th contest in which the Capital’s Captain almost makes something of nothing when he controls a poor pass and manages to spin to take a shot on Reimer.
Ovechkin is dangerous, but the Canes were able to overcome the Capitals in two of the four-season contests through a concentrated offensive effort and careful puck management behind the blue line.
One important aspect of the game that the Canes do need to improve on especially for a contest against the Capitals is the all-important rebound control. Mrazek had his fair share of struggles on this front throughout the season, and it is apparent in the contests that he started against the Capitals.
His last few regular-season performances were an improvement on this front, so I expect this trend to continue.
Rebound control is not only a goalie’s job, as often the goalie cannot capture the puck the way he wants to. It is important for the defense to also pounce on rebounds and make sure that the electric offense of the Capitals can’t capitalize on these second chances.
Next up is an opponent that the Canes have not had playoff experience with.