The Blue Jackets' Game 1 Victory Has Turned Up the Heat On the Washington Capitals

By Dan Dukart on April 14, 2018 at 1:00 pm
Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin

Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

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Advantage: Blue Jackets.

After a dramatic come-from-behind victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Columbus Blue Jackets have put an immense amount of pressure on the Washington Capitals.

With the 4–3 overtime loss, Washington has already forfeited home ice advantage, with each team having three home games for the remainder of the series.

And with a win in Game 2 on Sunday night, Columbus can put Washington in an even more dire position. That's the story coming out of Washington, too.

To say that the Blue Jackets have had a tortured playoff history would only be partially accurate. They've only made the playoffs four times (this year included) and have never won a series. That's a brutal track record for a team that's been around since 2000-01, but it pales in comparison to Washington.

The Capitals – and their fans – have had their hearts ripped out time and time again in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, to the point of exhaustion. In their 50-plus years of existence, the Capitals have been the epitome of playoff misery.

Since 2007-08, the Capitals have made the playoffs in 10 of 11 seasons, and in that span have won the Presidents Trophy as the league's top regular season team on three occasions. But not once have they reached the Eastern Conference Final, much less the Stanley Cup Final. 

Only once in the Capitals' history have they overcome a 2-0 series deficit. Coincidentally, that came in 2008-09 in the first round against the New York Rangers, a team coached by John Tortorella. 

Columbus already has that statistical edge, to say nothing of the psychological.

Barry Trotz, Washington's head coach, is coaching without a contract for next season. Management is clearly gauging this team's playoff success (or lack thereof) before determining his fate. 

Alex Ovechkin, arguably the most prolific player in NHL history to have never won a Stanley Cup, surely knows that, at age 32, his chances to win the holy grail are becoming less and less reliable. 

Columbus already has taken home ice away from the Capitals. With a Game 2 victory on Sunday night, they'll take much more than that.

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