20 years later and the Washington Capitals are back in the Stanley Cup final. It is their second appearance in franchise history. A team that has suffered heartbreak for so many years is only four wins away from lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup. One thing stands in their way, The Vegas Golden Knights. Washington is going to need to be on top of their game and focus on these three things to beat the fast-paced, momentum-driven Knights.
The Capitals need to play aggressive
Throughout the entire playoffs, The Capitals have been a hard-hitting and physically dominant team. The Capitals have out-hit their opponents in almost every game they have played to this point in the postseason. Game six against Tampa really showed the physical toll the hits left on their players. Playing aggressive isn’t just about hitting. They need to leave everything on the ice every shift. Whether that be getting in front of a shot or aggressively pushing a forecheck. The fast forechecking proved to be effective against Tampa, but Vegas has a quicker defense. The Capitals need to play physical and show they are the tougher team in every way.
Ovechkin had another unreal regular season and has had a stellar postseason to this point. If Ovechkin wants to win a Cup, he needs to stay focused and constantly keep pushing his team. Every Capitals’ player looks to Ovechkin as a leader, and should things get tough, he needs to keep the team focused.
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One thing about Ovechkin that has made him stand out during the past three playoffs series is his energy. His effort has been contagious for everyone around him. When he’s not scoring, he’s making aggressive forechecks, key passes, and big hits. He’s playing a lot less selfish and is doing whatever is needed to get this team to a Cup. Ovechkin needs to keep the intensity and continue to play with the urgency of a player who has yet to win a Cup.
Solving Marc-Andre Fleury
Fluery may be playing the best hockey of his career. Which is saying something for a three-time Stanley Cup champion. The Capitals will need to find a way to break through against Fleury early and often. Crowding the front of the net to force rebounds, deflections or just weird bounces may be their best option. It doesn’t matter how it goes in, as long as its a goal. If the Capitals can crowd the net and get consistent traffic in front of Fleury, they will be able to take advantage of opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Fluery won’t make many mistakes, so capitalizing on every opportunity will be crucial for the Caps success.
The Capitals are going into this series with sky high confidence and tons of support from their fans. But so is Vegas. The Capitals need to play with strength and confidence to get past Vegas and lift the Stanley Cup.