The Washington Capitals have completed a first round comeback against the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games. After losing the first two games at home, the Capitals completed the comeback by taking the next four games in a row. This is both a bitter loss for the Blue Jackets and a boost of confidence for the Capitals.
Washington Capitals Complete Comeback Win in First Round Against Columbus Blue Jackets
This series is both a disappointing end to the season for the Blue Jackets and a promising turnaround for the Capitals. Washington dropped the first two games of the series at home, leaving the Blue Jackets as the favorites to advance. However, this would not last long. There are a few points of emphasis to look at to see why the Capitals bested the Blue Jackets.
As stated in the series preview, depth scoring was a point to pay attention to coming into this series. The Capitals lacked a serious threat outside of their top four forwards this season. The Blue Jackets lacked depth scoring until the trade deadline, and they lacked it again in this series.
Players like Alexander Wennberg, who spent most of the series injured, Thomas Vanek and the bottom six guys went missing. The only bottom six forward that had a halfway decent series for the Jackets was that of Matt Calvert. If you want to make a deep run, you need more than one depth forward scoring.
As for the Capitals, this was the other side of the coin. T.J. Oshie, who had a very disappointing season relative to expectations, had a solid series. Oshie had three goals and an assist during the series. While not stellar, this type of production outside of the top line is what Washington needed to advance.
In the end, second through the fourth line of the Washington Capitals outperformed the Blue Jackets.
This point is being brought up for a much different reason than what it was in the series preview. There were questions surrounding how Sergei Bobrovsky would perform, and he was nothing short of stellar. If there was any reason why Columbus is out of the playoffs, it surely is not due to the play of Bobrovsky.
As for the Capitals, they started the series with Philipp Grubauer in net. This would change after losing the first two games at home, starting Braden Holtby in Game Three. There was no looking back from there as Holtby helped to right the ship and win the next four games in a row.
It would be an easy statement to say that both Holtby and Bobrovsky were their teams best performers throughout the six games of this series.
This point was not mentioned as much in the series preview, but it ended up being a huge game changer in this series. The Capitals performed on both ends of special teams like a well-oiled machine. The Blue Jackets, however, looked like a bicycle with a broken wheel.
Washington hit the ground running on the special teams, with Alexander Ovechkin leading the charge on the man advantage. Columbus was the opposite, failing to score a single goal on the man advantage. And with players as talented as Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson on the first powerplay unit, it is hard to understand how they failed to score at least a single powerplay goal throughout the series.
While it did not start off as planned, the Capitals are looking ready to get the “playoff choke artists” tag off their back. They will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round, yet again, to see if they are truly contenders, or yet again very convincing pretenders in their chase for the Stanley Cup.