The Runner Sports

Washington Capitals’ Keys To Game 7

The stage is set for the biggest game in Washington Capitals franchise history. And what a journey it has been. They fell into a 3-1 series deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now, they have fought back to force a deciding Game 7 at Verizon Center. They have played a dominant style of hockey recently but suffice to say, there is absolutely zero room for error in this contest. Here are some things that the Capitals need to do to punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Stay Out of the Box

The Capitals’ penalty kill was a huge part of their dominant Game 6 victory in Pittsburgh. However, they shouldn’t hope to rely on it too much in Game 7. Pittsburgh has a host of power play weapons including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel…the list goes on. The Capitals cannot get into frequent penalty trouble and expect to win. However, this is easier said than done. They won’t play a 100% clean game but they can’t take stupid penalties. That’s just a recipe for a bad result.

Keep a Level Head

Over the last four periods of hockey, the Capitals have continually frustrated the Penguins with their dominant play. This has led to some Penguin players attempting to goad the Capitals into retaliation penalties. It was Patric Hornqvist in Game 5 and Malkin in Game 6. The Capitals have done a great job keeping their emotions in check and will need to do the same in Game 7. Tom Wilson, that means you.

Shoot, Shoot, Shoot

The Capitals have made it a habit of targeting Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove hand with great success. While they should keep firing high in Game 7, they should also look to create as many shooting opportunities as possible. To do this, they can’t hesitate with the puck or look to make that extra pass. Pittsburgh was able to block a lot of shots in the first four games because Capitals players took too long to take shots. If defenders get the puck at the point, they need to shoot it. Don’t hold it too long or Pittsburgh will get into position for the block.

Traffic In Front of Fleury

In addition to taking a lot of shots, Washington has to establish some form of presence in front of Fleury. Fleury will stop deep shots if he has a clear line of sight so they will need to take away his vision. Even if the initial shot doesn’t go through, Washington should still have players down low to go for rebounds or deflection chances. TJ Oshie and Justin Williams are great at getting to the dirty areas but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to have another player down there as well.

Keep Hitting

Washington threw the Penguins off their game in Game 6 when they ramped up the physical play. This led to the Penguins getting frustrated when they were frequently getting knocked off the puck. Hits can also lead to making plays. Andre Burakovsky put a body on Pittsburgh defender Ron Hainsey which led to an offensive zone turnover and a goal. Washington should look to increase their physical style of play to try and frustrate Pittsburgh even further.

Andrew Markowitz

Longtime Capitals fan hoping to see a Stanley Cup parade in D.C. this year...or at least once in my life

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