WASHINGTON — There are enough reasons for the Capitals to feel their latest playoff series against the Penguins could have gone better.
For starters, by blowing the first two games in their own building, they set themselves, perhaps, a bit too far behind to recover from the outset, needing to go on the road in Pittsburgh and steal two victories. They stole one. Now Pittsburgh leads 3-1.
Then there was Dmitry Orlov’s unfortunate own goal, officially ruled a goal by Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel, who deflected the puck off of Orlov’s skate and past Caps netminder Braden Holtby for a 2-0 Penguins lead early in the second period of Game 4. The Penguins won 3-2.
Thursday morning, several Sports Junkies hosts cast scrutiny upon Orlov for netting a puck on his own goal.
“We kicked the puck into our own net,” Jason Bishop said. “That’s fine, but that’s a goal that should never happen!”
“That is the most Cap-iest thing that can ever happen to the Caps in the playoffs,” John Auville said.
“To me, that’s just hockey,” Eric Bickel said.
Auville: “Yeah, but that’s Caps playoff hockey!”
Bishop: “It’s Caps hockey! That’s my point! I mean, you can’t defend that!”
Auville: “I don’t see the Pens kicking goals in their own net!”
The Penguins are now 8-1 in playoff series against the Capitals, and if they’re able to close out the Caps this year, they will have won nine of the 10 series in which the two teams have met in the playoffs. That’s a lot of series victories for one team over another.
“Let me reiterate,” Auville said. “Ted Leonsis doesn’t own the Caps. The Penguins own the Caps.”
And, considering Washington’s especially nightmarish payroll considerations forthcoming — with six impending unrestricted free agents, and another six slated to be RFAs — some wonder if a total blowup isn’t in order.
The Junkies leaned into this prickly conversation asking if head coach Barry Trotz survives if the Caps are eliminated.
“Is he safe?” Bickel asked. “I would think he would be safe.”
“I would think so, because that’s back-to-back years,” Bishop said of the Caps’ consecutive Presidents’ Trophies.
“How do you fire the guy that has the best record in the regular season two years in a row?” Bickel asked.
“Okay, but again, he’s a nice a guy and he’s a fine hockey coach,” Bishop said. “Blow the whole thing up. I don’t care. Start from scratch.”
Auville: “I’m kind of with you on that.”
Bishop: “You can keep Ovi because he’s been the heart and soul of this team, face of the franchise, greatest player in franchise history. He’s going to the Hall of Fame first ballot. You can keep him and no one’s going to take the contract. Trade everybody else. I don’t care. I kind of like Kuzy. Kind of like him. Everybody else can go!”
Auville: “I like Kuzy too, but you know what? If you get a good package in return, I wouldn’t shed one tear if Kuzy left. I’m sorry, I just wouldn’t.”
Bickel: “I actually don’t think I would shed one tear if any of them left. Any of them.”