Monday, April 21, 2008

Now It's Just Getting More Difficult

The Capitals' "never say die" demeanor has their fans a bit on edge. But then again we have been on edge since November. Bruce Boudreau maybe in charge of one of the most resilient teams in NHL history. Not only would did the Caps come from last to first in the Southeast Division in the last half of the season, but the series could go the distance. Key word: "could"

Don't think, by any stretch of the imagination, that the Caps have the momentum going into game 6. To win a playoff game on the road is not the easiest accomplishment, especially if your back is to a wall. Flyers head coach John Stevens makes no bones about it, the fact that the series shifts back to Philly works in their favor. "Our crowd has been terrific at home," Stevens lamented after game 5. "We have been a great team at home down the stretch. ...We are excited about the opportunity to go home and another chance to close this out."

The Caps would love to push a game seven, but Philly only has to win one. A luxury three straight wins can give a team. Boudreau knows that any mistakes the Capitals make are monumental. "We can’t let our foot off the gas because next thing you know it’ll be 2-1 for them and you’ll be depressed because you played so hard," Boudreau said. A lazy penalty, or a blown coverage and we are talking about tee times for the Capitals rather than a game seven.

The Caps have to also watch the back door plays that seem to plague them on the penalty kill. "They’ve beat us a couple of times on that backdoor," defenseman Tom Poti remarked. "They try to get three guys down low and try to outnumber us down there. They’ve been a little bit successful after the first couple of games. We made a conscious effort tonight to watch that." The Flyers are not wasting their opportunities with wide open net off of back door.

The Capitals quickly went from series favorites to underdogs in the stretch of a week as they struggled in the first four games of the series. But in games 4 and 5 the Caps seemed to turn a corner. They are not motivated unless they are coming from behind. But hey, it certainly suits the team. "They counted us out after Game 2. They counted us out after Game 3," Boudreau remarked. "I'm sure they'll count us out now. When they had to win seven in a row, they did it so don't count us out."

While hope may win you an election (for you Obama-heads out there), results are needed for the Caps to push a game seven. That means Viktor Kozlov needs to produce, and Ovechkin and Mike Green have to find their scoring touches again. The Caps need to keep up the physical play, but stay out of the penalty box. And they have to score on the powerplay.

"Right now players know how to play in playoffs," Alex Ovechkin told reporters. "We know this (Game 6) will be hard, but we can do it. Nobody believes us. We believe (in) ourselves. We don’t care what media say about us. We knew we’re great team. We just have to win the game.

"Well, you never give up," said Ovechkin after Game 4. "So it's not over. That's all I can say: It's not over."

If you need more motivation:
3 Grumpy Caps Fans - Believe

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