Caps No Longer Pleased With Games 1-2
First, let me say that I've been around the Caps a good bit. As many of you know, I've sometimes complained that the dressing room is often an uptight place. This was certainly the case last week, as the playoffs approached. Not tons of smiles or laughs, at least in front of the media.
Today, there were smiles. All that "the pressure's off" talk seems like cliche, but jeez, when Ovechkin is giving interviews while "Stairway to Heaven" plays in the background, one foreign-player is trying to sing "Sweet Alabama Home" while an English-speaker rolls his eyes, and several guys are playing along with a camera crew from The Score, the vibe is slightly different.
For example, the guy from The Score asked Brooks Laich what sort of team is best to face in the playoffs.
"I think we'd look for a team that's fat, slow, bad skate sharpener, the trainer not very good," Laich said, with a straight face. The guy suggested Laich go find a beer league in Western Canada.
"If you put beer on the line, some of those teams back home are pretty good," Laich said.
But all that being said, there was plenty of serious talk. And not too much of the "we played well but just need a few more breaks and bounces," either. That talk is now gone.
"If we REALLY want to score, we've got to get to the net and bang in a rebound or two, that's really what it comes down to for us," Brian Pothier said. "I just don't think it's true, what everyone's been saying--we're playing great hockey, we're playing great, we've just got to wait, be patient. We're not playing bad, but we're not playing lights-out hockey. If we're gonna win, we need to take it to the next level."
That was something of a theme.
"It's the playoffs," Alex Ovechkin said. "Nobody wanna lose. Everybody fight for every second. It's probably best hockey in the season, and you play 82 games to be in the playoffs. And right now we're in the playoffs, and to win the game, if you're tired, it doesn't matter, you have to work hard, and work your you know what off."
"We just have to be better," Laich said. "Results matter. It's not intentions; your results matter, and we just have to be better. We've got to be more intense and just want it more. They stepped up their defensive game to play a lot tighter. We have to step our offensive game up to be a lot more aggressive offensively, try to score. It's that time of year."
"We're gonna have to come out and get a good, dirty road win," Tom Poti said. "Try to get in Henrik's head, try to create some traffic in front of him, and try to solve him."
That, it seems, might be easier said than done. So what are the Caps actually supposed to do?
"Just try to do everything a little better," Laich said. "If you're a skater, skate a little bit harder. If you're a shooter, make sure you shoot the puck. Find a way to the net, don't just hope to get it to the net. If you're a guy that goes in front of the net, plant yourself there, don't get moved out of the way. Just bear down and get the job done."
So what's Laich gonna do?
"I'm gonna do it all tonight," he quipped. "No, it's just everybody knows their role. Each guy has assignments and things that they want to do to try to affect the game. For myself, I'd like to be a lot more hungry around the net, try and create some havoc in there and to knock in a goal would be nice. Just keep working and I'm sure the pucks are gonna get through, the opportunities are gonna be there. We just have to focus and put 'em in the net. That's what they've done."
Several players said the same: that the Caps need to start doing what the Rangers have done.
"You've got to go above and beyond in the playoffs, you've got to do those extra things that they're doing and we're not doing," Matt Bradley agreed. "So now we obviously have a sense of urgency, and we have to do those things. It shouldn't be tough to do those things in the playoffs. It's just something that's not fun to do a lot of times, getting in front of a shot, doing stuff like that. But they've showed that when you do that, you can win. They've done a great job at it, we haven't done so good at it. If we want to win this game tonight, we have to do all those things."
Where does this extra effort come from?
"We've got a lot more in the tank," Eric Fehr said. "I think tonight's the night to show it."
Does Fehr have more in the tank?
"I got lots in the tank," he said.
"Lots," he said. 'Special. You'll see."
And Bruce Boudreau joined his players in saying more was required.
"We played a good regular season game. Not good enough to win in the playoffs," he said. "You have to do more in the playoffs to succeed than you do in the regular season a lot of times. And we just have to do more. We can't play at the same level we did in the regular season. New York has ramped it up pretty good. We've got to be able to meet that."
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