Eastern Conference semifinals
No. 7 Capitals vs. No. 1 New York Rangers
When: Monday, April 30
Where: Madison Square Garden
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: WFED-1500 AM
The Capitals weren’t happy with their effort in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. They know there is more to give when they face the New York Rangers tonight in Game 2 down 1-0 in a best-of-seven series.
“Everything that happened with Boston has got to be put in the wayside. It’s a new opponent and ultimately you just got to be better than one team for seven games, over a seven-game series,” forward Mike Knuble said. “You just got to be better than one team any way you can do it. I think we all agree that we’ve got more. We have more to offer, more skill to show, more shots to the net.”
Washington will need every bit of that to counter a team well aware that during its first-round series against the Ottawa Senators, they let Game 2 slip away at home in overtime. That missed opportunity loomed large when New York had to go to Ottawa trailing that series 3-2. The Rangers, of course, won both to advance.
“Be desperate. Same desperation we had last game,” goalie Henrik Lundvist said when asked about his team’s mentality going into Game 2. “[The Caps are] going to come hard. In the playoffs, if you lose one you try to push yourself even more the next game. So we have to expect them to be really good tonight. So we have to respond in a big way and play even better.”
Washington’s lines look about the same as they did at practice on Sunday. Alex Semin, who took two penalties on Saturday in Game 1, remained on the fourth line during rushes at the morning skate. It appears coach Dale Hunter is intent on keeping it that way.
“Discipline. In the first round against Boston a big key for us was not taking penalties, not giving them those easy opportunities on the power play,” forward Brooks Laich said. “And we took three penalties that were away from our net [Saturday], 150 feet away from our net that weren’t preventing a goal. That puts you back on your heels.”
Can’t argue with that. Alex Ovechkin took a penalty of his own as he drove in on Lundqvist and was poke-checked by defenseman Ryan McDonagh. The Caps managed just 18 shots on goal and it was only three penalties, but it’s a little hard to generate much momentum when you’re constantly going back on the penalty kill.
Ovechkin played on the right side during rushes alongside Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer. Not sure how long that move will last, either. We saw it once in Nashville while Bruce Boudreau was the coach and it’s happened sporadically said. That ploy could get Ovechkin away from Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi. But it’s not like McDonagh is chopped liver, either.
“[Ovechkin is] always going to get Girardi, no matter what, just like he had [Zdeno] Chara last series,” Hunter said. “That's the way it is, and Ovi, he's hitting and driving the net and things will happen.”
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