Minutes after Game 1, Alex Ovechkin did what the most focused hockey players probably should do in a playoff series – start talking about Game 2 and putting the first result well in the past.
Obviously if the Capitals had lost to the Rangers instead of dramatically tying it in the third and winning in overtime, there would be plenty of talk about heavy pressure on the top seed in the East. But that pressure is still present.
“It always will [be]. It doesn’t matter which game it is,” left wing Marco Sturm said. “We are the favorites and we wanna go to the next round and we wanna win all our home games. It should be on us, yeah.”
There’s a major psychological difference between being up 2-0 and tied 1-1. As Bruce Boudreau pointed out after Game 1, the Rangers should feel positive about the way they played the Caps and them – and splitting here at Verizon Center would be a coup.
“I think for a road team if you tie the series up at 1, it’s a big boost going home,” right wing Mike Knuble said. “If you leave town down 2-0, you really gotta fix something at home and use that home-ice advantage.”
For the Caps it’s about moving one step closer to a stranglehold. Everyone knows a 2-0 series lead doesn’t mean it’s all over, but there’s the idea of “holding serve” at home that makes life difficult on them.
But as Jeff Schultz pointed out, the Rangers are the ones switching up their lines while the Caps will go with the same combinations as Game 1.
“It’s them that has to make the changes from Game 1, and we’re just gonna have to play the same way,” Schultz said.