The assumption is that home-ice advantage often forces a road team to survive a tenacious first 10 minutes of game time, yet Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates told the Washington Times that he’s concerned about how his team will get out of the gate against the New York Rangers in Game 5.
“I’m worried about our start tonight,” Oates said. “We have to come out and have a good start and not let them feel that they’re into the game and do our best to neutralize them, and then we’ll be fine.”
Oates wasn’t thinking about his team alone. He made that observation in part because he believed the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t look great right off the bat in their own Game 5 against the New York Islanders on Thursday.
“Quite honestly, we talked about let’s not be tight,” Oates said. “I watched the Pittsburgh game last night, and quite frankly, I thought they were a little tight early. They got through it and they got into their game.”
“I’m a little bit worried about that. You’ve got your home crowd, which should give you life, but you’ve got to make good decisions with the puck. Let’s get it in, get our legs and get into the rhythm of the game.”
Oates told the Washington Times that he believes that strong or sluggish starts played a big role in all four games of the Capitals’ series against the Rangers so far, so we’ll see if that trend holds.
Friday’s Game 5 kicks off on NBC Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. ET.