The Unbearable Tightness of Being

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

The Capitals played seven straight one-goal games in their opening-round series with the Boston Bruins. Since the Rangers took a 3-1 decision in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Capitals, Washington and New York have hooked up in five straight one-goal games. Six of Washington’s 13 playoff games this spring have required overtime, and two of those required more than one overtime. Enduring so many tight games is more stressful on the respective fan bases; Washington fans’ knuckles have been white and their teeth clenched for a month now. “It keeps everyone on your toes and it makes your play our best hockey,” says Caps left wing Jason Chimera. “I think that’s why you see everyone playing so good. Because everyone shift means so much and every shift could make the difference between winning and losing the game. “I think that’s why you’re seeing so many blocked shots and so many people doing the right things with the puck. It’s been so tight. And all three teams play a similar style, very tight defensively. It keeps you on your toes the whole game, that’s for sure.” When Chimera says “all three teams,” he’s referring to the Bruins, the Capitals and the Rangers. The Caps took down the Bruins – the defending Stanley Cup champions – in the first round, but needed seven one-goal games to get it done. Their second-round series with the Rangers has been nearly as tight, and it will also require a seventh game to settle. “It becomes kind of taxing on you mentally,” admits caps defenseman Karl Alzner of his team’s tendency to play tight games in the playoffs this spring. “It’s nice during the regular season when you go into a game and you get up a few goals. We always say we don’t want to take the foot off the gas, but we do. It’s nice to have that [advantage], just to go out and play and almost be working on stuff. “In the playoffs, you don’t have that opportunity. When all these games are this tight, it’s almost consistent worry and you want to make sure your next shift is going to be your best. It’s something that you’re always thinking about and it makes it extremely tough. We would love more than anything to win a game 3-0, 4-0. But it’s more entertaining this way, I guess.” More entertaining, and better for local cardiologists in both cities. But the Caps themselves haven’t been so stressed, because they’re getting the results they want. They’ve been in every game. “Overall you could look at it as pretty daunting and tiring to have to have that kind of focus and [wonder] ‘Where is the break?’” says Caps right wing Mike Knuble. “But we’ve been being rewarded. We’ve been putting in the time and putting in the effort and feel like we’ve been rewarded. “It’s a stressful time, but it’s not that stressful because you’re getting what you want out of it. So we feel good. And that’s how you want to feel. You want to feel great coming into Game 7, great about your game. I don’t think a team can ask for anything more than to feel good and confident going into Game 7 that we have a great chance to win this thing and we’re playing well enough to do it.”

next up:

Serenity, Now

January 14, 2013

We’re here again. It’s Game 7. This is the sixth Game 7 the Washington Capitals have played in their last eight postseason series spanning the last five springs. They’ve been here before, so there’s no panic in their room. Recently, there has also been no panic in the Capitals’ game. And that goes


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