As the Capitals made their push at the end of the regular season to claim a playoff berth, it was the top line that led the way. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both averaged more than a point per game in the final 23 contests of the regular season. Marcus Johansson followed not far behind, averaging just under a point per game in that same span. Expecting that production to continue at that pace might not have been realistic, but the Capitals certainly needed more than three goals from the three players combined – and none since Game 3 — over the course of their seven-game series loss in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal to the New York Rangers. “Obviously they played good on us, but we should still score goals,” Backstrom said. “But I can just talk for myself, my effort. That’s embarrassing.” The final count? Ovechkin: 1 goal, 1 assist, 30 shots on goal. Backstrom: 1 goal, 2 assists, 14 shots on goal. Johansson: 1 goal, 1 assist, 13 shots on goal. They combined for a minus-7 rating in the series. That’s not to say players can’t contribute other places than the scoresheet – Ovechkin was a physically dynamic and imposing force in both Games 6 and 7. But when the Capitals’ most skilled players are rendered wholly ineffective for 120 minutes of hockey to close out the series, it’s a daunting hurdle.
First line vanishes as Capitals eliminated by Rangers
Washington Post | May 14