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Ovechkin, Schoenfeld and Clutch


(By Bruce Bennett - Getty)


Notes before an optional morning skate practice....

Ovie Clutch?

A lot of folks were asking "Is Ovie Clutch?" questions after Game 4. The Tracy McGrady comparisons, and all that. And sure, those questions will return, maybe louder than ever, if the Caps don't win on Tuesday, regardless of what No. 8 does.

Still, for the record....The Caps have faced elimination in each of his last five playoff games. Over that span, his team has gone 4-1, and Ovechkin has five goals, an assist and is a +4. Doesn't necessarily scream out "choker."

(More elimination numbers? Over those five games, Sasha Semin has three goals, three assists and is a +3. Nicklas Backstrom has three goals, two assists and is a +4. John Erskine is also a +4.)

Schoenfeld Clutch?

Rangers interim stand-in one-game fill-in coach Jim Schoenfeld seemed to explicitly call out his team for NOT being clutch, at least on this night.

"Everyone responds to, if you want to call it, the pressure of the situation in a different manner," Schoenfeld said. "And those that go on to have great, rewarding careers, to play on perhaps championship teams, they love the feeling of being uncomfortable. You know, that's what a good athlete wants, he wants to be in a situation where his gut's knotted up and the sweat's coming down. He wants that. That's what he needs to play his best. Other players get that feeling and they shrink from it. And it isn't always the same player that rises to the occasion, isn't always the same player who falls, but we had some guys tonight who fell off."

If you give him credit for Game 6, Schoenfeld has (I believe) now lost at least seven consecutive playoff games in which his team could have clinched, including three with the Caps in '95 and Game 7 with the Coyotes in '99, before which he said this: "We're going to win Game 7....I would tell you that I'll stake my job on it, but that's already been done. So I'll just say we're going to win Game 7."

The Coyotes lost.

Biting Clutch?

As for the biting allegation, which is a different sort of clutch, I can't wait to hear what the Caps say. The photo above is the only one I found of the scrum, though obviously the action continued after this. Lots of arms near mouths, anyhow.

But, incredibly, Newsday's Mark Herrmann produced this quote from John Tortorella on Friday morning:

"Dubie," the coach said at the time, "is one I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into."

Just remarkable.

Poti Gets More Love

Tom Poti gave the MSG faithful the old hand-to-the-ear as he was leaving the ice. "A bunch of guys were yelling stuff, so I was like , eh? What are you saying?" he told me as he packed his bags. There were plenty of questions about his impressive showing in a building where he's regularly booed, but Poti dismissed them all, saying he didn't get extra satisfaction from the venue.

"None whatsoever; I'm just glad we got the win and glad we're still playing hockey this year," he said. "I could care less about any of that, I'm just glad we got a win tonight and we've got more work to do."

Yeah. Ok.


(By Toni L. Sandys - TWP)

More Leaping

If you're curious whether Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom again did their post-win leap, which had irritated some Rangers fans, the photographic evidence is here. I didn't notice whether they were booed this time.

Fan Fun

Reader Mike e-mailed me with some tales of Caps fans in the 400 level. He said fans of both teams were guilty of bad behavior. My favorite moments of his e-mail: one fan wearing an Ovechkin Rangers jersey, a young female Rangers fan who was crying and yelling "Shut the [bleep] up" whenever the Caps fans cheered, and security guards who insisted on escorting the Caps fans to the bathroom.

"I've been in 16 of the NHL arenas for countless games," Mike wrote, "but this was the most intense in terms of I'm going to get my [bleep] kicked or my clothes saturated with beer for sure."

Confidence Quotient

Mike Green, asked if he has any doubt the Caps will win if they stay disciplined: "I don't think so. I think five on five we definitely feel like we're more powerful than them."

Alex Ovechkin, asked about chasing Lundqvist twice: "How I said, he can't play every time like a god, you know, he can't save the game all the time. We make some traffic in front of the net and when we score goals we feel pretty good. And when we play our game, we play simple, we play hard, nobody can stop us. So we believe [in] each other, and we believe in our group, and everybody believes we can fight back....When they score first goal they just go back and try to play defensively, so when we get opportunity to score first goal they just open the space and when they open we get more chance to score. So they play well, but we play better, so that's most important thing."

The Pressure Is On....

The Caps, apparently.

"The pressure is on them," Chris Drury said. "They smoked us twice. Now they're going home. They're going to be saying it's over, it's their building. Clearly, we just have to be ready to play."

"The pressure is on them," Wade Redden said. "We just have to go play and grind one out."

New York and the Rangers

Not sure how invested the NYC media is in this one. The first Caps-Rangers headline was listed 10th on the Daily News Web site this morning. And there's tons of confidence in the boys in blue.

Vic Ziegel in the NYDN: "So now the Rangers have one more chance to kid themselves and think they can win a Game 7 tomorrow."

Jay Greenberg in the NYP: "With Henrik Lundqvist, the only reason there will be a Game 7, now regularly surrendering short side goals, it is hard to believe that enough pucks could possibly bounce enough ways tomorrow night for this series not to reach the inexorable conclusion."

Jeez. Buck up, guys. It's still 0-0 in Game 7.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 27, 2009; 9:13 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Nice Work on Those Suspensions, ESPN

Comments

"Эй Алекс, что такое 'теэ времени, и почему бы рейнджерсов один в среду?"

"Ну Симеона ... Я уверен, что-то делать с гольф, а не хоккей. Они не играют в Сибири, но я смотрел один раз на Sportcenter. Они используют небольшой белый мяч, а не шайба".

"О, ОК ... и что-то другое ... Что такое Segway?"


"Hey Alex, what is a 'tee time' and why would the Rangers have one on Wednesday?"

"Well Simeon...I'm pretty sure it has something to do with golf, not hockey. They don't play it in Siberia but I watched in once on Sportcenter. They use a little white ball instead of a puck."

"Oh OK...and another thing...what's a Segway?"

Posted by: GiveBloodPlayHockey | April 27, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"If you give him credit for Game 6, Schoenfeld has (I believe) now lost at least seven consecutive playoff games in which his team could have clinched, including three with the Caps in '95 and Game 7 with the Coyotes in '99, before which he said this: "We're going to win Game 7....I would tell you that I'll stake my job on it, but that's already been done. So I'll just say we're going to win Game 7."

Really?

Posted by: Section117 | April 27, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"I've been in 16 of the NHL arenas for countless games," Mike wrote, "but this was the most intense in terms of I'm going to get my [bleep] kicked or my clothes saturated with beer for sure."

Mike, you must not have been to Pittsburgh or Philly. Both of those are MUCH more intimidating buildings in the playoffs. I've been to every NHL arena and the only one I'll never go back to is Pittsburgh (except when I go back to urinate on the rubble of Mellon Arena once it is knocked down). What a crappy hole of a city.

I've never once had a problem in NYC, as long as you ignore the verbal part you're fine. Philly is pretty much the same, but more intimidating for sure. But I wasn't there this time around, so I can only speak from my experience.

BTW, I'm serious about the Mellon Arena trip. We've got a whole group ready once they knock down that eyesore (meaning the arena, not that I'd mind them knocking down that whole eyesore of a city). Anyone want in?

Posted by: StikSav | April 27, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

we didn't have any trouble in 223. in fact, when the drunk frat boys left our row after the FIRST period, saying "We ain't watching this crap again", we invited a couple friends down from the 400s.

Rockin the Red in NYC.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | April 27, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I thought you might be interested to know, Dan, that the series did get a mention on British radio this weekend: John Oliver of the Daily Show was a guest on the sports-themed radio punditry show "Fighting Talk" (think of "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" for British sport) on Saturday morning, when he named Game 6 the best potential upset of the weekend. Of course he said the upset was the goalie-dependent Rangers potentially beating the Caps. But pretty funny stuff (and he didn't get any points because the question was about the best potential upset in British football).

Posted by: Louise9 | April 27, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin carries the Caps, often with his scoring but just as often with his attitude and physical play.

He is always out there at 100% and that is what you want to see from your captain.

Clark may still wear the 'C' but for all intents and purposes Ovechkin is the on ice captain of the team.

In yesterday's game, how many times did Ovechkin come down the ice and have 3 or four Rangers shading to his side?

Semin and Laich don't score as many goals as they do without #8 in the lineup, especially on the power play.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 27, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

steinberg-

i know you're new at this whole "hockey" thing...

> Notes before an optional morning skate....

But here's how it works:
- a morning skate is the day of a game. it's in the morning.
- today there's no game, so it would be an optional PRACTICE. not a morning skate. because there's no game tonight.

got it?

Posted by: jason595 | April 27, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

"Clark may still wear the 'C' but for all intents and purposes Ovechkin is the on ice captain of the team"

You raise an interesting question, who will be the next Caption after Chris Clark. It goes somewhat hand in hand with how long he will be playing but if i had to guess it would be between Ovie and Backstrom. I just find centers to be good captians, we all know ovie is heart though.

Posted by: breaklance | April 27, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I like the first picture on the top (of the scrum). It actually looks like Callahan is taking a big bite out of Backstrom's arm. :)

Anyway, great job on all these very entertaining posts Steinberg!!! I love all the bits of juicy news you report, as well as the fact that generally your posts seem to agitate many fans of opposing teams on quite a regular basis.

Keep up the good work and keep them coming!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 28, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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