Five years ago, Jaroslav Halak frustrated the Washington Capitals to a stunning first-round loss. He has a lot more help this time around with the 2014-15 New York Islanders, yet you can forgive some Caps fans if Wednesday brought back bad memories.
The Islanders topped the Capitals 4-1 to take a 1-0 series lead, and while Brock Nelson’s second goal inflated the difference in the form of an empty-netter, the Islanders looked awfully impressive.
In fact, they carried much of the play, as you can see from this Natural Stat Trick graph:
The Islanders didn’t really see their play drop off much, even when they had a comfortable lead. That has to be a wake-up call for Washington, and perhaps a message to the rest of the East: a team that looked like a powerhouse may not be slumping as much as some think.
It’s hard to imagine Alex Ovechkin being kept off the scoreboard every night, mind you, although it will be interesting to see if Barry Trotz continues to try to get balanced offense by splitting him from common running mate Nicklas Backstrom.
The two teams meet again for Game 2 at the Verizon Center on Friday, so the Caps need to shake off this setback or they’ll be in quite the early hole.