Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pressure On Caps For Game 2

With a game one loss, the Washington Capitals admitted it was a tough loss. But not the end of the world. The Rangers 4 - 3 win shocked the Verizon Center faithful and left some questions on who was going to start in net for game two. But that question turned into an answer closer to the end of practice yesterday.

"You'll see it in the warmup," Bruce Boudreau teased reporters. "But look it, it's not a big surprise. Theo is our number one goalie."

Jose Theodore took the blame for the loss on Wednesday night. "There really is no excuse," he said following Game 1 Wednesday night. "You need to make a couple of key saves at the key moments."

The team was quick to come to the defense of their goaltender with several Caps talking about giving the Rangers too many scoring chances. A problem they plan to rectify in Game 2. "I mean, (the Rangers) were getting shots from the slot," Mike Green said. "If we're getting shots from the slot we're usually going to score, too. We can't leave (Theo) out to dry like that."

There will be changes made on the defensive side. Jeff Schultz, who also took some of the blame for the game winning goal when he was outdeked by Brandon Dubinsky, will sit out this afternoon with an undisclosed injury. Brian Potheir will make his first appearance in the series.

The Capitals also want to do a better job creating traffic in front of Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. "We have to make some traffic," Alex Ovechkin said. "We have to make some rebounds. We have to pay some price." Lundqvist was clearly the best Ranger player in Game 1, and the Caps have to make his job a lot harder.

On the flip side, the Rangers sounded like they just got away with shoplifting a candy bar from the corner drug store. "I thought we were a nervous club, but that we rebounded well in the second period," Ranger coach John Tortorella said. "(We) found a way to get our legs underneath us. (We had) big plays at big times. We were fortunate to get a win."

The Rangers seem to be fooling the Caps with some fancy drop passes just inside the blue line, that is how they scored two of their four goals. The Caps have to do a better job of stepping up to the blue line and forwards have to be sharp on the back check.

Sean Avery would have to be a saint after getting away with the stuff he got away with in Game 1. Running interference will raise some red flags for the officials who I am sure have taken a look at the replay of the game to recognize some errors.

In this tilt this afternoon the Capitals will have to do a better job on the penalty kill. They have a allowed the Rangers two big goals with a man advantage. Their power play is sufficient, especially against one of the best PK units in the league, but they have to simplify their play and get the puck to the net.

Bottom line for the Capitals, they have to take advantage of their scoring chances. "It's the playoffs and if you do get chances to score goals you have to use them," Ovechkin told reporters following practice. "We didn't use our chances and we lost the game. Next game, we just have to use our chances, play smart in the offensive zone and be more responsible on our chances."

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