2010 NHL Playoffs: Capitals vs. Candiens Game 7 Notes

Capitals.jpgHere are some news and notes from around the blogosphere leading up
to tonight’s momentous Game 7.

First, let’s start off with owner
Ted Leonsis. He’s an opinionated fella, and the Capitals’ fan sense of
“us against the world” persona starts with him. With a post full of
one-word descriptors, here’s what he
had to say about tonight’s game:

Rise above it.

Lead.

Execute.

Win.

Simple.

Wish
us lotsa luck and good fortune.

Lotsa love back at you.

Go
Caps.

More after the jump.

Ted
Starkey of the Washington Times
says that the Capitals are facing
one heck of a ugly end to one incredible season.

During
the last few weeks of the regular season, Washington turned in
some of its worst efforts against teams playing for their playoff lives,
unable to match their opponent’s intensity.

[snip]

Now, there is no more room for error for the
Capitals if they want to
keep their Stanley Cup hopes alive, as they must turn in a good
60-minute effort on Wednesday, or head home as victims of one of the
largest upsets in Stanley Cup playoff history.

Because we all really wanted it here is Barry
Melrose’s advice for the Capitals, passed
along by Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Blog:

“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.”

I actually agree with Melrose here. The Capitals were able to get
under the skin of Halak in Game 2 and 3 by crashing the net and not
letting him get comfortable in the crease. It’s something they’re going
to have to duplicate again tonight.

Also from Dan Stenberg, these
thoughts from Bruce Boudreau:

“I think you’re
gonna see a great hockey game with both teams willing
to do anything it takes to win,” Boudreau continued. “Both teams are in
a Game 7 in a hard-fought series where you’ve got one guy playing when
he pulls his teeth out, other guys on Montreal playing definitely
injured. That’s what character is….

“We’ve played 10 games against ’em, and every
game has been exactly the same way. The only surprise is is that the
media makes it that because we ended up so far ahead of them, that there
should be a surprise. It’s no surprise to me or the group that’s on the
ice now.”

I’m not exactly surprised by what’s
happened in this series, because of how well the Habs played the
Capitals in the regular season. What I am surprised by is how the
Capitals keep waiting to turn it on, and turn it on, and here they are
in a Game 7. Again.

According to Habs
Inside/Out
, Jaroslav Spacek is a game-time decision for the
Canadiens:

Canadiens defenceman Jaroslav Spacek, who
has missed the past three
games with a virus, skated this morning with his team and will be a
game-time decision for tonight’s Game 7, according to head coach Jacques
Martin.

Finally, defenseman Karl Alzner is set to
make his NHL playoff debut tonight for the Washington Capitals,
replacing Tom Poti who will miss the game after being hit in the face
with a puck in Game 6. Here’s some thoughts by Alzner, courtesy
of Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider:

“When I
did get the call I was like, ‘That’s kind of strange,'” Alzner
after the morning skate at KCI. “Because there were still [other
defensemen available] here. But [maybe his history with John Carlson] is
what they were thinking about. I’m happy that they did.”

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    Vegas wants ‘progressive’ head coach, says McPhee

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    Golden Knights GM George McPhee continued to list the characteristics he wants from a head coach this week, explaining that he’s searching for a forward-thinking bench boss.

    “We want someone who is very current on the game, who is progressive on how the game should be played,” McPhee said in a recent phone call with season ticket holders, per the club website. “We’re looking for that progressive guy that can really help us through the early years and help develop our team and our players.”

    So, time to connect the dots.

    Back in November, Vegas owner Bill Foley laid the initial groundwork for McPhee’s coaching profile, saying he wanted to hire an experienced head coach.

    “He’s not looking for a first-termer,” said Foley. “Some may or may not be available. … I would say the coach that we name is going to be a recognizable individual.”

    Among the names that have already been floated, many fit the above billing: Jack Capuano, Gerard Gallant, Ken Hitchcock and Michel Therrien, among others.

    Vegas has already spoken with Gallant and reportedly made contact with Capuano as well, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Gallant was nominated for last year’s Jack Adams as the NHL’s top coach, and McPhee is familiar with Capuano, having worked as an adviser to Isles GM Garth Snow prior to taking the Golden Knights gig.

    It’s also believed former Flyers head coach Craig Berube is being considered, along with current Montreal associate Kirk Muller.

     

    Pre-game reading: Tonight’s Kings-Flames game could get testy

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    — Up top, the Calgary Flames don’t want Matthew Tkachuk to play any differently — even though Drew Doughty called the rookie winger a “pretty dirty player” after taking the 19-year-old’s elbow to the face earlier this month.

    — Tkachuk was suspended two games for that elbow. Still, there could be fireworks tonight when the Flames and the Kings meet again in Calgary. Especially after Tkachuk replied to Doughty’s remarks with the following: “I expected more from him, honestly, than to go right to the media and start complaining after a loss.” (Calgary Sun)

    — TSN’s Gary Lawless thinks Sergei Bobrovsky should win the Hart Trophy over Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Lawless writes: “No other player has been as important to his team and its results as Bobrovsky has to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Take Bobrovsky off the C-bus and it’s not necessarily in the ditch but it isn’t nipping at the Capitals for the league lead.” (TSN)

    — Coyotes captain Shane Doan is understandably frustrated about the lower-body injury that’s kept him out of the lineup the past six games. At 40, this could be Doan’s last year in the NHL, so hopefully he’s able to return and play at least once more in front of all his fans. (Arizona Republic)

    — Golden Knights owner Bill Foley doesn’t want each team’s protected list to be made public ahead of the expansion draft. That being said, Foley is also realistic: “I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise. I think there’s going to be a lot of leaks, though. I found one thing about the NHL that … everyone talks.” (Yahoo)

    — An appreciation of the Detroit Red Wings playoff streak, which will finally come to an end this season. The last time the Wings missed was 1990. As noted by Nick Cotsonika: “No player in the NHL today was in the NHL then, not even Jaromir Jagr. Nine of the franchises in the NHL today weren’t in the NHL, 10 if you include the Vegas Golden Knights, who begin play next season.” (NHL.com)

    Enjoy the games!

    The Leafs’ remaining schedule is no cakewalk

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs took care of business last night, sending the floundering Florida Panthers to a 3-2 defeat at Air Canada Centre.

    Now comes the hard part for the young Leafs. They have seven games left to book their first playoff appearance since 2013, and their schedule is no cakewalk.

    The Leafs’ next three games are all on the road, in Nashville Thursday, Detroit Saturday, and Buffalo Monday. After that, it’s a four-game home stand to close out the schedule, all against formidable opponents: Washington, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Columbus.

    With a four-point playoff cushion, the Leafs can afford to lose a few games down the stretch. But head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t want his players looking too far ahead.

    “I really believe with our group if we just focus on the day we’re playing and play right, we have a real good chance to win,” Babcock said. “That’s what we talk about and that’s kind of our mantra every day is just play right, play fast and we have an opportunity to be successful. We don’t get all caught up in the race. We know the standings, it’s in the paper every day, so we know that.”

    The Leafs today sent goalie Garret Sparks back to the AHL. That can only mean good news for starter Frederik Andersen, who could play Thursday after missing last night’s victory with an upper-body injury.

    Backup Curtis McElhinney got the nod against the Panthers, calling it the biggest game of his career. The 33-year-old then went out and made 25 saves to earn the win.

    “It was great,” said McElhinney. “Getting a couple of goals in the first period there helped out a little bit and let me settle into it. It was a nice win.”

    Parise ‘pretty black and blue’ after Wilson high stick, but injury not serious

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    Zach Parise looked in bad shape after taking a Tom Wilson high stick to the face in Minnesota’s loss to Washington on Tuesday.

    Thankfully for the Wild, Parise’s early diagnosis is a good one.

    “He can see and is fine as far as that goes,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said on Wednesday, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s sore in the upper body. I don’t think he’ll be out long.”

    Boudreau went on to add that Parise was “pretty black and blue” and unlikely to play tomorrow, when Minnesota hosts Ottawa. That said, the club expects the 32-year-old to return next week.

    It goes without saying that losing Parise is huge. The alternate captain has 17 goals and 37 points through 64 games this year, and is averaging 17:33 TOI per night. And for a Wild team that’s mired in a horrific slump — just three wins in its last 15 games — being down the services of such a vital contributor is costly.

    Related: Stewart fought Wilson in response to the high stick