Photo by Brian McNally for The Sports Capitol

News, notes and quotes from Game 1

BY TODD DYBAS | MAY 29, 2018

A 6-4 final ends Game 1 in Las Vegas. We found out a few things tonight: First, this should be an extremely entertaining series. That was high-paced hockey in a hot environment. Second, the Capitals aren’t thrilled with the playing surface, though they noted that the Golden Knights have to play on it, too. And, if everyone is telling the truth, they will acknowledge this is a constant gripe in their home arena. Third, the Capitals are unified in their thought that they can play better. They almost pulled out a Game 1 result despite several lapses, some wild bounces and Vegas opening things in front of its amped crowd.

On to news, notes and quotes from Game 1:

— The introduction. That took a long time. It had all the makings of a Vegas environment from the gaudiness, to the showmanship, to making someone wonder, “What the hell is happening?” These are Vegas things. Bringing out legendary boxing announcer Michael Buffer in the white tuxedo just knocked things up a level. He is 73 years old, his perfectly coifed hair is gray and his voice still golden. Buffer has reportedly earned more than $400 million after he trademarked, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” in 1992. It’s part of Ready To Rumble, Inc., which shows up among the eight results when the phrase is searched in the federal copyright database.

—Postage due. John Carlson hit a post twice. Braden Holtby was saved by a crossbar once. Vegas opened with a 7-1 lead in shots. It finished with a 34-28 advantage. So, a stalemate after the crisp start. Most of the numbers, not surprisingly, were near even. Vegas won faceoff percentage 52-48. Washington blocked 18 shots, Vegas 17. Nine giveaways for the Golden Knights, eight for the Capitals.

— Time-on-ice rundown. Nobody played more than Carlson on Monday night. Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen were the only players to be on the ice for more than 24 minutes. Niskanen was second on the team in hits and tied for the lead in blocks. Lars Eller was a -3 in 15:22 on the ice. Yikes.

— Speaking of the ice, here is Matt Niskanen on the playing surface and more:

— Where was Alex Ovechkin? We didn’t hear his name much during the broadcast. He had just two shots in 19:09 on the ice. Ovechkin added four hits. He did not get a shot during the two minutes he was out on the power play. The last time Ovechkin had two or fewer shots was May 3 in Game 4 against Pittsburgh. He was shut out that night for just the third time all season. Ovechkin was to the point in his postgame meet with reporters. Here is the Capitals’ captain:

— The Capitals’ six goals allowed marked the most since March 18 against Philadelphia. Their previous high for goals allowed in the playoffs was five in Game 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. That was an overtime loss and Philipp Grubauer’s last appearance in the playoffs.

— Barry Trotz echoed several of his players with the overarching thought that the Capitals could player better. Take a listen:

— Backstrom’s hand. You wonder how much Backstrom’s still-swollen hand is a factor when he takes faceoffs. He won just 36 percent in Game 1, a steep drop from his career average of 50.6 and 51.2 during the regular season. Jay Beagle, not surprisingly, led the Capitals by winning 69 percent of his faceoffs. That’s well above his highly respected career average of 56.4 and potent 58.5 in the regular season, which was fourth in the league.

— Coming Tuesday: The Capitals practice at 4:15 p.m. then have media availability afterward. Vegas is holding optional practice at 3 p.m.

 Brian McNally contributed to this report from Las Vegas.

Todd Dybas is the managing editor and co-founder of The Sports Capitol. He has spent 17 years in the sports editorial industry, working as a writer and layout editor, winning multiple awards in both positions. He has been an NFL beat writer, has worked as a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for seven years, and is a member of the Pro Basketball Writers Association.

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