Caps Seek to Repeat Swift Start

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Less than three weeks ago, the Washington Capitals forged a one-goal win in a crucial game on home ice, namely Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Boston Bruins. That win enabled the Caps to avoid digging a 3-1 hole for themselves in that series, and they were able to go on the road for Game 5 in Boston with the series all even at 2-2. On Saturday afternoon in Washington, the Caps authored a repeat performance. As was the case in Game 4 of the Boston series, the Capitals’ skill players got the team a one-goal lead, and the team’s foot soldiers ushered that thin margin safely to the final buzzer. Needing a win badly in Game 4 on Saturday in Washington, the Caps came out strong and with plenty of passion and energy. They drew an early penalty, and put their power play to work in the game’s third minute. Washington’s power play has been maligned more often than not, but it has kicked in with timely tallies this postseason. Although that was not the case with the first extra-man opportunity in Game 4, the Caps had six shots on net, made 17 offensive-zone passes and had several strong scoring chances. Only a terrific glove stop by New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist on an in-tight tip chance from Alex Ovechkin kept the Caps from cashing in. Washington maintained that swift start, outshooting the Rangers 14-3 in the first period and getting the game’s first goal from Ovechkin. The Caps are 6-1 in games in which they score the game’s first goal this season. “I don’t know why the record is like that,” says Caps right wing Joel Ward. “but it’s key for us to get off to a good start and that’s what we always take pride in is to hopefully get on them early and if we score that’s definitely a bonus for sure.” The Capitals are 0-4 this spring when they surrender the game’s first goal. “Leads are big in hockey, especially in a playoff series,” says Caps goaltender Braden Holtby. “They’re a big deal. But we’re confident in our ability to bounce back if we’re down early. It’s nice to have, because you want to put yourself in a good position; a position to win. But it really doesn’t change my mindset that much. The pucks don’t change whether you’re up or down. You still have to make the same saves.” “Just stay calm,” says Schultz. “If we can get through the first five to seven minutes, and just hold off their push, we can build off that and try to take it to them in the latter half of the first period.” Ironically, New York is also exactly where it was after four games of its first-round series. The Rangers headed back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 of their first-round set with the Ottawa Senators. The series was even at 2-2, and the Blueshirts were looking to push the Sens to the brink. But Ottawa prevailed, and New York needed consecutive wins to get past the Senators and into the second round. Expect the Rangers to come out with fervor tonight in front of their home crowd. One of these teams will be a game away from elimination going into Wednesday’s Game 6 in Washington. “I think we’ve just got to reverse it,” says Ward. “Win one-on-one battles early, try not to ease into the game but be ready right off the start. If we can get pucks in deep, and maybe take the crowd out of it a little bit and wear them down, we’ll have a better chance of hopefully getting the first one and succeeding. For us, I think it’s being ready off the start is going to be key for winning one-on-one battles.” “I’m sure they’re going to approach the game like we approached Game 4,” says Caps center Brooks Laich. “It was really important for us to win Game 4. I think we showed that in the first period so we can expect that out of them. You do a pre-scout a little bit on them and try to have a game plan on what they are going to do, but usually things are about what you do and the guys in this locker room and how we approach the game and start the game. And then you’ve got to carry it on for the rest of the 60 minutes and maybe another 60 like it was the other night. “Just be ready to play. And we’ve got to be better than we were even in Game 4.”

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On Clichés and Redemption

January 14, 2013

You win as a team, you lose as a team. That’s a cliché. Here’s another one: clichés don’t get to be clichés without containing a good deal more than a shred of truth. The Washington Capitals lost Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden

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