Three storylines for the Capitals entering Game 2 in Florida


SUNRISE, Fla. — With the Capitals ahead 1-0 in their opening-round series against the Panthers, they have a chance to take a commanding two-game lead on the Presidents’ Trophy winners on Thursday night at FLA Live Arena

Here are a few key storylines to monitor before the series shifts to Washington: 

Tom Wilson’s status

The Capitals had a lot of positives to take from Game 1. Losing Tom Wilson was certainly the biggest negative. 

Wilson’s status will not be known until at least coach Peter Laviolette’s press conference after the team’s morning skate, but potentially not until the team takes the ice for pregame skate. 

If he’s unable to play in Game 2, or potentially even longer, it would be a major blow to the Capitals’ chances at pulling off a major first-round upset. They would be down their fourth-leading point-getter from the regular season, a regular on special teams and one of the most physical and respected players on the team. 

“You can’t replace Tom,” T.J. Oshie said after Game 1. “Especially in playoffs, he is one of our most important players because of his ability to play physical, his ability to score big goals like he did tonight. His ability to penalty kill, power play, he is just a guy you cannot replace. Not only that, but his presence in the room is very influential to our team.”

In his place, if necessary, the Capitals would turn to a rookie in either Connor McMichael or Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. Both would be making their playoff debuts. 

If Wilson is not in the lineup, the Capitals will have to make up for a lot in all three zones of the ice, on special teams and in the physicality department. 


The Capitals’ goaltending situation was a bit in flux entering the postseason, and for a valid reason. 

But after Game 1, there’s a bit of room to breathe after Vitek Vanecek was solid for most of the series’ opening game. He stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced and, especially when the Capitals needed it most, he stood tall in net. Specifically, right after the Capitals tied, and took the lead, in the third period, he was excellent when the Capitals needed him to be.

“First game is always important because you’re feeling really good after that,” Vitek Vanecek said. “The guys was buzzing today, the defense was tight and the offense was really good. I hope it will go the same way for the next game.”

On the other end of the ice, Sergei Bobrovsky was also solid in net and stopped a decent number of quality scoring chances for the Capitals, who put on a good amount of pressure all night long. 

Eyes will be focused on the goaltending for both teams once again in game 2, and once again, they could tell a large part of the story. 

Can the Capitals keep it up?

Florida’s record-setting season in 2021-22 left Washington with a laundry list of things to shut down if they wanted to win the series against the league’s best offense. 

In Game 1, they certainly did their part. 

The Capitals outshot the Panthers 26-25 at five-on-five, led in scoring chances 23-20 and in high-danger chances 9-7 against a team that made its living all season long by creating a bevy of quality chances. 

Washington kept the pressure up in the offensive end and didn't allow much defensively, certainly a replica for success in Game 2. 

“I like the game that we played,” Laviolette said. “Not knowing what they are going to do, I don’t know if I want to talk about adjustments. I think what you try to do is get better at what you were doing, take the things that you did well and do better at it.”

The Panthers will assuredly come out with purpose trying to avoid a two-game series deficit on Thursday, which the Capitals will have to be up to the challenge. 

All first-round games of Capitals vs. Panthers will be available regionally on NBC Sports Washington and streamed live on the MyTeams app.

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