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.”

Scroll Down For:

    It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day at PHT

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
    Getty
    Leave a comment

    In a lot of ways, the 2015-16 season represented more of the same for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The results were nearly identical to 2014-15, right down to finishing in the basement of the East (69 points last season, 68 the one the year before).

    Indeed, Brendan Shanahan is probably correct in saying that the Maple Leafs earned the No. 1 pick “the hard way,” or at least “earned” the higher draft lottery odds that helped them land Auston Matthews.

    The big question, really, is how long will fans be patient with the Maple Leafs taking baby steps in the right direction?

    Off-season

    Naturally, the team tried to make more a leap forward in seeking Steven Stamkos and, to a less dramatic extent, Jimmy Vesey.

    They fell short in those regards, but that doesn’t mean that management merely idled while hoping for improvements from in-house development.

    The Maple Leafs made bold changes in net, ending the Jonathan Bernier era while betting big on Frederik Andersen and also bringing in a promising backup in Jhonas Enroth.

    Beyond those big moves in net, the Maple Leafs made some minor adjustments. They handed surprising money and term to Matt Martin while taking short-term fliers on veterans Milan Michalek and Roman Polak.

    On paper, this team still looks quite a few steps away from being a playoff contender, but perhaps we’ll start to see things come together?

    A lot of that rides on the work of Matthews, Morgan Rielly and other young players (William Nylander, Mitch Marner) who may or may not make a lasting impact on the regular season roster.

    Will the rebuilding plan start to pay dividends? PHT explores the iconic franchise on Tuesday.

    Keep your head up: Hurricanes reportedly hand Raffi Torres a PTO

    VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 3:  Raffi Torres #13 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Vancouver Canucks for a 3-2 victory in overtime in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, May 03, 2013 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
    Getty
    4 Comments

    From opting against fighting the NHL’s 41-game suspension to seeing his season derailed by knee issues, there was the feeling that the league had seen the last of controversial forward Raffi Torres.

    Perhaps not.

    The Carolina Hurricanes reportedly handed the 34-year-old a PTO, according to former Hurricanes defenseman Aaron Ward.

    It’s something the Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander also mentioned on Monday.

    With Bryan Bickell added to the mix during this off-season, the Hurricanes seem interesting in adding some beef. It’s unclear if Torres is really in the sort of condition to make a mark, but Carolina’s going to at least take a look at him.

    Beware, pre-season opponents and training camp teammates.

    Capitals bump Todd Reirden up to associate coach

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10:  Assistant coach Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals talks to the power play unit during a time-out against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
    Getty
    1 Comment

    The Washington Capitals announced that Todd Reirden (pictured) was promoted from assistant to associate coach on Monday.

    What does that mean, exactly? Well, most directly, the team shared word that he’ll run Capitals training camp while Barry Trotz works with Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    Giving Reirden a promotion makes sense, as he’s been linked to some head coaching searches. The Washington Post compiled some of his opportunities:

    In the past two years, Reirden has been a serious candidate for two NHL head-coaching gigs. According to the Calgary Sun, Reirden was a finalist to coach the Flames before they settled on Glen Gulutzan, and he was considered for the New Jersey Devils’ vacancy last summer, too. Lane Lambert, another Capitals assistant, was a finalist for the Colorado Avalanche head-coaching job earlier this month, according to the Denver Post.

    The Capitals have a pretty well-regarded coaching group, as many credit goaltending coach Mitch Korn with some of Braden Holtby‘s improvement since Trotz took over.

    Maybe we’ll see Reirden and Lambert get head coaching gigs at some point, but for now, Trotz’s “coaching tree” stays intact.

    Penguins believe Kessel, others can heal up by start of next season

    SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 12:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after their 3-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup against the San Jose Sharks in Game Six of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center on June 12, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Getty
    2 Comments

    Going deep enough into the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup often comes with the cost of stacking up injuries, and the Pittsburgh Penguins paid the price.

    As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others report, Phil Kessel (wrist) and others aren’t guaranteed to be healthy to start the 2016-17 regular season.

    “All the injured guys are tracking in the right direction,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “Until they all get here, we won’t know 100 percent where they’re at, but it sounds like all the guys should be ready for camp.”

    The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review runs down a significant list of players who likely accrued bumps and bruises that may carry over:

    Defenseman Trevor Daley, for instance, suffered a broken ankle on May 20. Kris Letang (foot), Nick Bonino (elbow infection), Bryan Rust (hand), Patric Hornqvist (hand) and Evgeni Malkin (elbow), among others, dealt with physical problems of varying severity at times.

    If recent history is any indication, Kessel will probably fight hard not to miss time.

    For all the weird criticisms he receives, he’s been remarkably durable, playing in every game during the past six seasons.

    That’s impressive stuff, but the Penguins would be wise to keep an eye on the big picture. If it comes down to making Kessel and others swallow a little pride to limit the odds of aggravating injuries, they need to do it.

    Even if it means a bumpy start to their title defense.