Follow these three keys and the New York Islanders should take a commanding 2-0 lead in their series against the Washington Capitals.
Are you ready for Game 2 between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals? If you thought Game 1 was chippy and physical, Game 2 looks to resemble a Royal Rumble.
Top of mind for the Capitals will be trying to win the game, but just under that, is making the Islanders pay for the fact that their star player (Nicklas Backstrom) is not in the lineup after what Todd Reirden called a “predatory” hit.
That leads directly to key number one.
Take Advantage of their Advantages
The Islanders have two big advantages in Game 2, the first is that Nicklas Backstrom won’t be on the ice for the Washington Capitals.
After Anders Lee hit Backstrom (with an admittedly late hit) in the first period of Game 1, Backstrom did not return and won’t dress for Game 2 as he goes through concussion protocol.
It’s unfortunate that Backstrom is injured, you never want to see that happen, but the games do go on and his absence is a big advantage for the Islanders.
Without Backstrom, the Capitals will run (in no particular order) Kuznetsov, Eller, Dowd, and Boyd as their forward spine. That’s not a particularly strong spine. The Islanders have to press that advantage throughout the game. Specifically at 5on5 where the Isles were dominant in Game 1.
The second advantage is that Nicklas Backstrom won’t be on the ice for the Washington Capitals. Yes, I wrote that twice on purpose.
We know that the Capitals will use Lee’s actions in Game 1 as a lightning rod to get them back into the series. It’s why Caps head coach Todd Reirden called Lee’s hit “predatory”.
Even though Lee fought both John Carlson and Tom Wilson in Game 1 for his actions, the Caps will be gunning for him, and just about anyone else not wearing red, white, and blue. The Islanders have to continue their physical play in this series but let Caps make the mistakes.
The Capitals are already heated. They can be provoked into making mistakes with physical (but legal) play. Again, the Islanders have to press their advantage here.