The Washington Capitals are going to have to head back to Philadelphia for an intense Game 6, after being shutout 2-0 on Friday night.
There’s more to the loss than just being shutout. In fact, despite the final score, Washington played a pretty decent game. Here are some takeaways from the loss.
Despite shots aplenty, the Capitals couldn’t solve Neuvirth
Washington’s shot attempts were pretty impressive, but Neuvirth was the equivalent of a brick wall. Seriously, Alex Ovechkin and company peppered on the shots, and they were all stopped short thanks to Neuvirth’s impressive glove, as well as his pads. If you weren’t sure about how tilted the advantage was, Washington led in shot attempts by a lot.
The Flyers attempted 27 shots in Game 5.
The Capitals attempted 82 shots in Game 5.#StanleyCup hockey, man.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) April 23, 2016
Of course, if you count the actual shots that made the net, the totals go down. But Washington still dominated. Neuvirth finished the night with 44 saves, and Philadelphia only had 11 shots on goal the entire game.
In the end, the Capitals were probably the better team, given their exceptional penalty kill and defense, but because of Neuvirth’s agility (and his remarkable lateral movement), they were stopped short and ended up putting zero pucks in the back of the net.
This is probably their biggest problem; it’s obvious. The Capitals cannot figure out Neuvirth, and if the former Washington netminder continues to play like this, the series may just stretch to seven games. To prevent that from happening, the Capitals are going to have to figure him out, and fast.
Alex Ovechkin had one of his best games this series
Though the Great 8 didn’t score, Ovechkin gave an excellent performance and gave full effort. He finished the night with an impressive eight shots on goal, as well as eight hits. He also had five scoring chances, all on net. Taking that into account, with all of the scoring chances he had combined with the rest of the first line, Ovechkin was by far Washington’s most valuable player.
It was his physicality, combined with his scoring chances and speed, that made this a decent outing for the Capitals. He gave them nearly every chance to score, and even though they couldn’t pull it off, there is no denying Ovechkin’s effort. He was the best player on the ice, and if this play continues, Washington will figure out the Flyers sooner rather than later.
Brooks Orpik is surely being missed
The Capitals were playing a great game, but they wouldn’t have had such a hint of urgency and frustration had it not been for Taylor Chorney’s rather unfortunate mistake. Ryan White’s goal came from a deflection off Chorney’s skate into the back of the net. With that little error, and terrible bounce for Washington, the Flyers got the go-ahead goal, and they weren’t ready to give that up for anything.
That being said, the Capitals are missing Orpik now more than ever. He is a smart stay-at-home defenseman who is aggressive and plays it safe.
His absence leaves a huge slot to fill. Chorney, along with Mike Weber, cannot fill that big of a role, and unfortunately, his skate cost the Capitals a critical game. Sure, it wasn’t his fault and was completely out of his hands, but I’m sure Washington is eagerly awaiting Orpik’s return.
Washington’s struggling on the power play
The Capitals went 0-for-3 on the man advantage Friday, and that is the second straight game in which they didn’t score a power-play goal. With the talent they have, from Nicklas Backstrom all the way to Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington should have been able to conjure something up.
Of course, Neuvirth has been strong, but the main problem is that the Flyers are blocking a lot of the Capitals’ shots. Granted, Washington got some good looks and scoring chances, but none of them got past the Flyers, and this definitely made things harder for Washington.
In fact, the only excellent part of the Capitals’ special teams these past few games has been their ability to kill off penalties (however, they spend a bit too much time doing that).
The Capitals will head back to Wells Fargo Center to try and finish off Philadelphia in Game 6. If they can’t do that, they’ll have a tied series after leading 3-0.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.