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Two Games, Two Nights,

In their first 33 years of existence, the Washington Capitals never played two playoff games in consecutive nights in different cities. Saturday, they'll do it for the second time in two years.

The era of seven evenly spaced games has clearly passed, and so the Caps and Pens will hop on planes after Game 4, arrive in the D.C. area late Friday night, and get back to skating less than 24 hours later. It's not necessarily a popular proposition.

"These are the biggest games, and you want to see the teams at their best," Caps GM George McPhee said yesterday. "Neither manager wanted this, neither team wanted this, but it's the way it is this year."

The question then becomes how to deal with the two-day blitz. Brian Pothier said the key was actually yesterday, when the Caps did away with practice entirely in an effort to chill. Drink a lot of water, he recommended. Maybe take a short walk around Pittsburgh, catch a movie. Have a quiet lunch at a place called the Grille on Seventh, where the patrons recognized the three hockey players who strolled in.

"The beard kind of throws things off a bit, kind of tips them off," Pothier noted. "Some people at the restaurant kind of look at you cross-eyed a little bit. When you see three 20-something year-olds walk in with kind of weak beards, they figure it out."

Amazingly, one of the employees temporarily removed some pro-Pens propaganda on the walls so the visiting Caps "could enjoy our lunch a little bit," Pothier said.

As for the fluid consumption, it must continue all day today and into tonight's contest, other players said.

"Water, Gatorade, Pedialyte," Tyler Sloan ticked off. "Don't be spitting all the water out, make sure you're drinking some of it too."

(Sloan, of course, is a veteran of countless minor-league back-to-backs, except those trips often involved five-hour bus rides. "It's tough getting off a bus at 4 in the morning," he said. "Travel's a little different. It's the NHL, so you get treated very well.")

The Penguins' Matt Cooke pointed out that, unlike regular-season back-to-backs, both teams are facing identical travel routines, and the flight is short enough in any case.

"We're gonna fly, and by the time you get to Washington it's gonna be time to get some rest," he said. "It's a long ride in from Dulles, it's too bad we couldn't fly into Reagan, but those are the situations."

Cooke said the real victims in all this are the coaches, who have to stay up all night studying tape and planning adjustments. So then, coaches?

"I'll worry about Saturday Saturday," Bruce Boudreau said.

"You have to let go of the game and you have to get right back on the horse," Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma added. "It's gonna happen quick, it's gonna be bang-bang, and on Sunday someone's gonna be ahead in this series."

(Last year, in case you forgot, which you didn't, the Caps won Game 6 in Philadelphia on a Monday, came home that night and saw their season end in Tuesday night's Game 7.)

"I think back-to-back in any way shape or form, it's a challenge for both teams," Sidney Crosby said.

Anyhow, by this point in the season, we're past dealing with physical hurdles in any sort of real-world manner. For example, defenseman Tom Poti has seemed to be limping lately, at least to the media's untrained eyes, but Boudreau insisted he wasn't injured. "He says it's a good hurt," the coach explained. And the 39-year old vet Sergei Fedorov said he'd "probably feel good" by Saturday night, "because basically all you do is rest" that day.

"With your preparations, maybe bike ride, you will feel right back in it, so you don't have to do usual routine like when you have day or two off." he said. "It's gonna be all adrenaline. Doesn't matter how physically you feel, it's gonna be all adrenaline."

"It's playoffs," he continued, "so what the hell. You've got to be ready, no matter what."

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 8, 2009; 7:23 AM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Two Nights, Two Cities, Two Games: The Video

Comments

Everyone knew the playoff schedule for this series sucked once it was released. That's tough for all of the players. Why couldn't they get a flight to National?

Posted by: sitruc | May 8, 2009 7:34 AM | Report abuse

R.e. why no flights into National, there are noise restrictions which prohibit landings after a certain hour, and also security restrictions which make charter flights into and out of the airport next to impossible.

Posted by: wahoo2x | May 8, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Didn't know hockey players drank Pedialyte.The things you learn reading the Bog....

Posted by: bbride1 | May 8, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

You guys realize that it is the Pens that are flying into Dulles, not necessarily the Caps. Why are you so concerned about them??

Posted by: QuintenD | May 8, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

"Amazingly, one of the employees temporarily removed some pro-Pens propaganda on the walls so the visiting Caps "could enjoy our lunch a little bit," Pothier said."

I am so happy to see that not all Pittsburgh residents are as bad as some of their delusional and "Life Threatening" blog mates.

Stay classy Pittsburgh! It is only a game!

Posted by: JohnWWW | May 8, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

The guy that threatened Ovechkin was from Chambersburg, PA - NOT PITTSBURGH. FYI - Chambersburg is less than 100 miles from DC and more than 160 miles from Pittsburgh. I went to the game on Monday night, and Pittsburgh is not the only town will CLASSLESS fans.

Posted by: TimHorton | May 8, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Actually, I do believe the Caps do fly into Dulles. Anyone?

Posted by: ShariLeigh131 | May 8, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

The schedule is such due to television. NBC wanted one game for the weekend, and for this weekend (with NBC not showing games due to golf commitments), CBC (who is showing the games in Canada) wanted a Saturday night game for their HNIC 7pm est.

Posted by: jcurrin | May 8, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

no, the schedule is due to the fact that, AGAINST THE RULES, Mellon Arena went ahead and booked a freaking YANNI concert, in directl conflict with the hcokey playoffs. For once, its not to blame onthe networks. It has 100% to due with those idiots in Pittsburgh who run that POS arena scheduling something they darn well knew they shouldn't be scheduling in the first place.

may I remind you, this is not the first time in playoff history that Pittsburgh has gone and scheduled an event, against NHL rules, and its resulted in a screwed up playoff schedule.

"It is a shame that both teams will have to play back to back games later in the series because the Pittsburgh building - against NHL rules - booked a series of concerts and forced the league to alter the playoff schedule. This is bad for the league, both fan bases and for the players.

The playoffs are very intense and physical and players need time to recoup. No one is advantaged by playing back to back games so no one can complain but it is unfortunate that the Yanni concert takes precedence over high quality NHL playoff hockey." http://www.tedstake.com/?p=3831

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 8, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

ShariLeigh,

The Caps are also flying into Dulles. They're using a 737-400 (if anyone is interested in the plane type).

Posted by: stevorama1 | May 8, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Well, we can't be depriving the good citizens of Pittsburgh of their Yanni, now can we?

Priorities, people.

Posted by: VTDuffman | May 8, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Is this thing about landing at Reagan after a certain hour a myth? I first heard it at a ticket counter after a delay made me miss a connection. He said you can't land there after 9. This was probably in about 2004. I've since landed there after midnight several times (scheduled not delayed or anything). If you are going to be landing at midnight, what is the difference if you land at 3 in the morning?

Posted by: makplan20002 | May 8, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

both teams have to travel. i wonder who is less impacted by this. the home team who gets to sleep in their own beds or the visiting team in a hotel. you would think it would be the home team, but we all know that some of these guys (the ones w/ kids, etc) would probably benefit by not being at home. either way, i think the equipment guys are the ones who get the short end of this stick...

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 8, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

makplan, the hours that planes could land at National (oh, please don't call it reagan!) were extended fairly recently. I think midnight is the cut-off, unless there are delays (which I've had the misfortune of being caught in. Thanks, northwest. No wonder your airline failed!)

VTduffman, true true. Yanni must be the height of culture for them.

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 8, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

may I remind you, this is not the first time in playoff history that Pittsburgh has gone and scheduled an event, against NHL rules, and its resulted in a screwed up playoff schedule.

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 8, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, that was when the Capitals had to play Game 1 in D.C. and then Games 2 and 3 in Pittsburgh because the arena had scheduled something the night Game 4 was to be played in Pittsburgh.

Posted by: virtueandvice | May 8, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

The schedule is such due to television. NBC wanted one game for the weekend, and for this weekend (with NBC not showing games due to golf commitments), CBC (who is showing the games in Canada) wanted a Saturday night game for their HNIC 7pm est.

Posted by: jcurrin | May 8, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Wrong. Mellon Arena scheduled a concert.

Posted by: virtueandvice | May 8, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

RedBirdie you are so cute when you tweet like that. I hear your beautiful song all throughout these comment sections. You are always so eloquent in your approach and you represent the Capital's fanbase very well.

Posted by: ruce226 | May 8, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I have to go back to work next week, which will seriously limit my "tweeting" across the blogs involving the Caps.

"eloquent" hmmmm....well, maybe that English degree that my parents still complain about finally came in handy! :)

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 8, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so dumb question - is the Yanni concert on Sunday night? If so, why couldn't they have tweaked things on one end or the other so that was the "off" day? TV scheduling?

Posted by: suzannepdc | May 8, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

@suzannepdc - My guess on that would be that the Media have to have their Drama, which I, for one, am heartily tired of. Ovechkin vs. Crosby - it's the hockey media's complete droolfest. (((>.<)))!

Posted by: irockthered | May 8, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@RedBirdie:

It's unfortunate that your English degree didn't help you detect the sarcasm.

Mellon Arena event schedule:
5/5/09 - WWE
5/7/09 - Dane Cook
5/12/09 - Yanni

Tomorrow's game could have been moved to Sunday to give the players a day's rest. Game 6 could have been played in PGH on 5/13, giving each team 2 days rest between games. This would move game 7 to Friday in DC. All could have been easily done because there are no events scheduled at the V Center for 2 weeks.

NBC is covering golf on Sunday and wanted a game on Saturday instead so the NHL obliged, simple as that.

Posted by: ruce226 | May 8, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

wow - that many people go and see Dane Cook that he's in the Mellon Arena? Who knew?

Posted by: suzannepdc | May 8, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

What happened to Federov? I never saw a follow-up. Was he speared by the ghost of Bobby Clarke?

Posted by: Bartolo1 | May 8, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

ruce, they cant extend the series cause then it runs into the next series. they need them to end thursday at the latest to give time to schedule the conference finals. nbc got first crack at scheduling this game and they picked it for saturday game 1 vs a sunday game 2. from there, you need to go every other day. there was bound to be a back to back somewhere, but tsn probably wanted a saturday night game vs a sunday game. therefore, you get friday/saturday back to backs.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | May 8, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@ruce, its unfortunately that your lack of one didn't help you, either.

its my understanding that every other arena is dark on non-hockey nights, unless they're also hosting nBA. So what makes Pittsburgh so special that they don't have to follow the rules?

Posted by: RedBirdie | May 8, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Red Birdie,

Pittsburgh gets an exemption because the rest of their economy stinks. Events at Mellon Arena are like 90% of Pittburgh's GDP.

Posted by: makplan20002 | May 8, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@suzannepdc - yeah, you have to remember it IS Pittsburgh afterall. I mean, look at that lineup - WWE, Dane Cook, and Yanni. Wow, that's just sad.

Posted by: mikesgirl1 | May 8, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Mike - I guess it's just a little something for everyone!

Posted by: suzannepdc | May 8, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

West Ham United(H) VS Liverpool

Willhill 6.00 3.40 1.50
6.00 4.00 1.53

In those recent matches, Liverpool were playing pretty well, for they need to get 1st position in the league. What's more, with Gerrard's recovery, Liverpool can get 3 points in this matches without much effort.

West Ham need to save their 7th position, but they scored only one goal in the recent matches verses those four top teams.

For more, please visit here:
http://www.nowgoal.com/21.shtml

Posted by: nowgoal | May 8, 2009 10:10 PM | Report abuse

West Ham United(H) VS Liverpool

Willhill 6.00 3.40 1.50
6.00 4.00 1.53

In those recent matches, Liverpool were playing pretty well, for they need to get 1st position in the league. What's more, with Gerrard's recovery, Liverpool can get 3 points in this matches without much effort.

West Ham need to save their 7th position, but they scored only one goal in the recent matches verses those four top teams.

Posted by: nowgoal | May 8, 2009 10:11 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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