Barry Melrose tells Caps to get to the net
In case you wanted Barry Melrose's prescription for getting the Caps out of the first round, here it is, delivered Wednesday morning on the Mike Wise Show.
"They're still trying to play the way they did in the regular season," Melrose said of the Caps. "And this team was so good in the regular season, and they were a team that could turn it on and off. A lot of times they were two goals down before they started playing, three goals down before they started playing, and they're still trying that same thing in the playoffs.
"In game 2 they got lucky. They were three goals down, they came back and won that game. And this team has to get to the point where they start the game with that mentality of attacking the net and making life hard for Halak and putting a man in front of the net. No flybys. Finishing checks.
"I see Bruce talking about the things every night. When a guy shoots it, have a man in Halak's face. When a man shoots it from the point, have two guys in front of the net screening the goaltender. Not off to the side, not trying to knock the puck out of the air, but right in front of him.
"You watch Detroit play with Holmstrom, you watch Philly play, you watch Vancouver play, you watch Pittsburgh play, you watch Boston play. Boston, not nearly as talented a team as Washington, but they just put a man in front of the net and they made [Ryan] Miller's life tough every time he sees the puck or wants to see the puck.
"Washington's got to get to that mentality. It's not gonna be pretty goals that beat the Montreal Canadiens. It's gonna be tip-in goals, deflection goals, rebound goals that beat the Montreal Canadiens."
Holden Kushner also asked how much of the responsibility for this series rests on Alex Ovechkin's shoulders.
"Well, I think it certainly hurt -- I don't think image is the right word -- but his reputation," Melrose said. "Alex wants to be considered the best player in the world. You look at what the other best players in the world are doing right now. If you watch Detroit play last night, Lidstrom has two goals, Datsyuk has two goals. If you watched Philadelphia play, Mike Richards had a great series. If you watched Pittsburgh play, Crosby was fantastic. If you watched Vancouver play, the Sedin twins were great.
"This is why he's great. This is what creates greatness. This is what great players do. The bigger the stage, the more important the game, the better they play. So if Alex wants to be considered as one of those guys, this is a game he has to show up.
"You don't need great players when the team is going great and everybody's happy and you're winning every night. You need greatness and you need leaders this time of the year, when the team's doubting themselves and things aren't going great, that's when the great players show up. I would be surprised if Alex doesn't have a great game tonight. I would be very disappointed if Alex doesn't have a great game tonight."
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