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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."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 28, 2010; 1:56 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Next: Donald Brashear at Game 7


Melrose is right!! Look at the only goal the Caps scored in Game 6!!!

They can do it.. Its just a matter if they want to do it!

C'mon Caps!!

Posted by: darrylrbaker | April 28, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Although Barry's on target, if he was such a genius, he'd probably still be a coach or general manager, right? :)

Posted by: blackjack65 | April 28, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

A lot of coaches would fail in the positions he was in. In Tampa Bay especially. Melrose knows his hockey. And he's right. It's easy for a coach to tell his players what to do, it's another thing them actually doing it.

Posted by: smfoster3 | April 28, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Like a lot of national/international media - Melrose is relying on image as opposed to reality. The Caps have gone to the net and Alex has had a great series already. The only area I agree with Melrose is the Caps need to finish checks. The Caps are a much bigger team, yet the team has not punished the smaller Habs for 60 minutes.

When push comes to shove, one thing alone is the difference in this series. The power play. If Washington had cashed in on just 15% of their opportunites (after scoring at 25% clip during the season) the series would already be over. Credit both a great scheme and perfect execution by the Habs and an inability to adjust by the Caps.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | April 28, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Well it is not rocket science. Even we fans know that good things will happen if they just freakin' crash the net!

Posted by: JillC | April 28, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for stating the obvious Barry Melrose, we fans have been saying the same thing since the playoffs started. Bruce should get a cattle prod and use it on any player that refuses to go to the net to pick up a rebound or a deflection. No more cute shots and passes. Desperation time has arrived, baby! Go Caps!

Posted by: Irreverent_inDC | April 28, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't always agree with Melrose, but he is spot on this time.

Crash the net! Screen the goalie! Should be simple concepts for NHL players. That is how you win in the playoffs, period. And until the Caps do it regularly, they have no shot at the Cup.

Hell, they should put Jeff Shultz in front of the net on the power play to screen Halak.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | April 28, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

We need to stop getting down so quickly

We need to get ahead early and get comfortable

Posted by: Bious | April 28, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Short and sweet: the Caps are the single biggest bunch of chokers in NHL history. Truly amazing how they so consistently disappoint in the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills of Hockey.

Posted by: rdptdp2 | April 28, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

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