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Boudreau: 'Welcome to the Circus'

Well, the Caps did it. With last night's 2-1 victory over the Rangers, they're finally into the second round, 11 years after the last time they ventured past the quarterfinals.

Their reward for bouncing back from a lousy first two periods and becoming the 21st team to rally from a 3-1 series deficit to advance? Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rival Penguins. The Caps went 3-0-1 against the Penguins during the regular season. But they are a gruesome 1-6 against the Pens all-time in the playoffs. As if you needed any reminding.

"Looks like we're playing Pittsburgh," Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Welcome to the circus."

Indeed, it's going to be a circus, especially from a media standpoint. But since Saturday is still a few days away, let's take a look back the night's events:

Aim High
That was Boudreau's message to his players during their pregame meetings yesterday. Boudreau said 12 of the first 17 goals this season on Henrik Lundqvist went high to the glove side, including the first two on Sunday and, of course, Sergei Fedorov's winner last night

"We all watched that this morning, where we were beating him," Boudreau said. "I don't know if Sergei did that on purpose or if that's what was given. But that's where we seemed to be beating him."

Captain Clark Returns
Chris Clark, who played his first game since Jan. 27 and his first playoff game in five years, did not record a shot on goal, but recorded three hits and skated a total 8:13. In my opinion, he played well enough to warrant more playing time in the second round.

"Being able to step into a Game 7 like that, all those guys work their butts off for six games, and I get all the good stuff," Clark joked after the game.

Varlamov Stars
Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov has allowed only eight goals in six games, stopping 152 of the 160 shots he faced for a .952 save percentage and a 1.17 goals against average. He also been one of the game's three stars four times in his six starts in this series.

"He is tremendously poised," Boudreau said. "Still haven't talked to him since Game 1. I don't want to screw him up, so I am just leaving him alone. With the way they were coming for the first two periods, for him to have the poise that he did, that was tremendous."

He only had to make 14 saves. But a few of them (Nik Antropov's breakaway in the opening minute comes to mind) had a high degree of difficulty.

"I don't know what his stomach was doing," Boudreau added with a smile, "But he seemed really calm out there."

Third-Period Turnaround
The Rangers played perhaps their best two periods of the playoffs in the opening 40 minutes. They were aggressive on the forecheck. They owned the neutral zone. They won puck battles in the corners and along the boards.

Even the Rangers felt they had the Caps right where they wanted them: "That's what we talked about after the second period: We were right where we wanted to be," Coach John Tortorella said.

But the Caps were a totally different team in the third period and wound up out-shooting the Rangers 13-1. There was more energy. They were more physical. And, of course, they had Fedorov.

"They made it really hard on our defense tonight," Brian Pothier said. "They put a ton of pressure. They forechecked well. They were relentless. We were really good on the wall. We weren't getting pucks out of our end. We were turning pucks over in the neutral zone. But in the third period we figured it all out."

Follow the Leaders
Varlamov is tied for the playoff lead with two shutouts, Alexander Semin is tied for the playoff lead with five goals and Nicklas Backstrom leads the playoffs with seven assists.

Boudreau on the Crowd
"To me, it's great," he said. "I think it means more to the organization and to the city of Washington. I don't know what Chicago is like as far as building, other than the National Anthem, but that was the loudest five minutes after we scored. They never sat down. They never stopped cheering. If you look at the energy we had in checking; the fans brought that out of us. They wouldn't let us not continue skating, not continue anything, it was really a thing to watch."

Odds and Ends
The Rangers lost a playoff series for the first time after leading 3-1, falling to 12-1. ...Washington was held to just two shots in the first period. They had taken at least three in every period prior to tonight's game (regular season and playoffs.) ...Michael Nylander was a scratch for the fifth straight game. ...The Caps allowed only one shot in the third period, the third time they've done that in the playoffs.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 29, 2009; 1:16 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Caps' Second-Round Schedule Announced
Next: Morning Reading List: On to Round 2


Crush the Pens!

Posted by: washcaps | April 29, 2009 1:17 AM | Report abuse

So...if I remember correctly, someone (or quite a few people) posted that when teams are down 3-1 in a series, they only have an 8% chance in actually going on to win that series....

But didn't they know that 8 is our lucky number??? :)

GO CAPS! I knew you could do it.

(too late to really claim it now, but my superstitions is never to discuss my gut feelings before a game....but I had a feeling the Rangers would score first and yet the Caps would still win it!!!!)

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 29, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 29, 2009 1:19 AM | Report abuse

"Rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov has allowed only eight goals in six games"

Even that's selling him short, it's only 7 goals through six games.

Posted by: Hobes | April 29, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

2nd round is going to be a war. We're the underdogs going in, I don't care what the seeds are. We'll need a much better effort than we got tonight. I posted at length on Pensblog about tonight, but the thing that really, really killed us was transitioning from D to O. We were just horrid moving the puck up ice in the first 2 periods. Really chopped the flow of the game up.

I have faith we can step up to the plate, they've been here before, we haven't. We can't go down 2-0 or 3-1 in this series, I can ALMOST guarantee that.

That being's never over...until it's over.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 29, 2009 1:37 AM | Report abuse

That is three more goals than Theodore let in in one game.

That game one was sure a blessing in disguise.

I am sooo proud of the character on this Caps team!

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 29, 2009 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Yes, let it be said thank you Jose Theodore for failing so miserably in Game 1 that you gave this team a chance beyond the 1st round and have made the goalie question clear for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 29, 2009 2:00 AM | Report abuse

No question, that was the loudest screaming I've ever done for 5 minutes. And I couldn't hear myself because the screaming was so loud. It was mayhem.


Cmon Pens.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 29, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

I was one who said that Clark's return would have little to no impact but I think having him against Pittsburgh will definitely help. I liked what I saw tonight.

Posted by: donknutts | April 29, 2009 2:03 AM | Report abuse

With all the tension throughout the game, and all the mayhem that broke loose, Semyon was as calm as a placid lake enshrouded with early morning fog. The kid looked like a 30 year old veteran.

At the end of the handshake line Lundqvist may as well have handed him a baton.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 29, 2009 2:07 AM | Report abuse

night folks. go caps.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 29, 2009 2:08 AM | Report abuse

So Verizon really screwed me tonight. They messed up their guide and had the game listed on VS rather than CSN. Guess what I got when I turned on the DVR after avoiding all media outlets all evening long? 3.5 hours of WEC Wreckage! #(*@^*(&!!~~~!!!!!!

I'm guessing there will be a replay but still...

The real stink of it is, now with all but one game of round 2 set for VS rather than CSN or NBC, Verizon may have finally found the last straw that's going to force me to upgrade to the Extreme HD package. I could take it once or twice a month but an entire series in SD? Guh!

Anyway, WTG boys! Now let's kick the Pens @$$e$ like we've done all season! Can you hear it yet?



Posted by: RicketyCricket | April 29, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Anyone know whether any tickets for Round 2 will go on sale to the great unwashed?


Posted by: kjm1971 | April 29, 2009 2:29 AM | Report abuse

Keep those ugly black and gold uniforms out of our house! Do not sell your tickets to the dark side of the force! ROCK THE RED!

Posted by: blackandred777 | April 29, 2009 3:11 AM | Report abuse

Psh if they wanted to cut off opposing fans, take a cue from most major international events and put a name/customer number on the ticket. Force the ticketholder to show ID...BAM no more people selling tickets to the enemy.

Posted by: trunkenmath | April 29, 2009 3:47 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: CapsFan44 | April 29, 2009 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Isn't that just what the doctor order? Stealing a game by a Caps goalie. What we've been looking for a good, long time. Not only did Semyon keep us in the game for 55 minutes, the poke check he made just prior to the goal was perfect, unfortunately, no one picked up the follow-on shooter. Fantastic win and one that will carry them strongly into the second round.

Posted by: saintex | April 29, 2009 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"The kid looked like a 30 year old veteran."


Yeah, but he moves like a 21 year-old. Thank you Varly!

Posted by: AmyS1 | April 29, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

That quote from Boudreau makes me love it even more that I was there to see that game. Pure hysteria. What a night.

Posted by: blanknerc | April 29, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

So psyched for round 2.

One note, it makes the home fans look bad if you taunt the goalie after he made a brilliant save. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but the taunt is for after we score, preferably more than once.

Anyways, awesome night, GO CAPS!

Posted by: AMHV2772 | April 29, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

RicketyCricket...Verizon didnt screw you, the game was on VS nationally. We're local, so that gets blacked out and we get CSN. I'm sorry you didnt get the game taped, but that is the way its always been. Always go with the local network.
Go Caps!!

Posted by: j3rockstar | April 29, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

About coming back from 3-1. This is misleading, of course. Usually the team that grabs a 3-1 lead is much better than the other team (hence, the lead) and so, they go on to win. In the case of Caps v Rangers, the Caps were far stronger. I'll bet most comebacks from 3-1 happened w/ similar mismatches...

Posted by: WritingLight | April 29, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

One of the greatest coaching jobs you'll ever see. Boudreau had the instincts to put an untested rookie in net after a Game 1 loss, then stuck with the kid after they lost Game 2. If he hadn't stuck with the kid, the Caps would have lost this series. If you notice, Boudreau spends pre-game warm-ups studying the opposing club's goalie. Between that, knowing his room, knowing that 12 of 17 Caps goals this season vs. King Henrik were high glove and being willing to go with a rookie goalie when most coaches would have stuck with a former playoff MVP, that's what makes Boudreau the winner he is. You might lose by accident, but seldom do you win by accident.

Posted by: OrrCountry | April 29, 2009 11:29 PM | Report abuse

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