Last season when the Capitals held a 3-1 series lead against eighth seeded Montreal, things went south fast when they headed home for game 5. The Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak took it to the Caps and shut them down the next three games to win the series in seven leaving the Capitals to wonder about what could have been given how things shook out in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Fast forward to this season, the Caps are in the same position up 3-1 in the series against New York and after a host of games that were tight scoring with two that went to overtime, the Capitals realize that they’ve got to keep it going until it’s over. If you’re thinking that last season’s failure is hanging over them this season, think again.
CSN Washington’s Ryan O’Halloran tells us about how the Capitals are looking to make their own memories rather than let the past haunt them. Captain Alex Ovechkin says it plainly with what he thinks about last year.
“I don’t remember nothing,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “I forget about it. … It is new year, new series, new team. If you remember everything bad, then it’s going to be bad for you.”
There’s an odd sort of zen quality to what Ovechkin says there. You might think of him as a modern day Yogi Berra for it, but his approach makes sense. History doesn’t matter to this team and it shouldn’t. Letting the past get you down means you’re not improving for the present.
One guy to listen to about that would be Jason Arnott. The veteran wasn’t with the Capitals last year but his perspective is one that should be listened to as O’Halloran found out.
“It’s done and over with,” center Jason Arnott said. “We have to think about moving forward, and that’s tomorrow afternoon.”
“To finish a team off is very hard,” Arnott said. “They’ll be playing with every emotion, and we have to match that or be better. We can’t get too overconfident or overanxious. We have to play relaxed, play our system and play hard.”
Playing hard is something the Caps haven’t lacked at all, especially in their Game 4 double overtime win that saw them comeback from being down 3-0 in the third period to tie and then win. For the Rangers to upset the Capitals, they’ll have to find a way to sustain that pressure for 60 minutes and make the Capitals feel uncomfortable. With the way coach Bruce Boudreau has his team going now, though, that might be the toughest thing to do yet.