Everyone’s chatting about killer instinct and how important it is for the Capitals to close out the Rangers in Game 5 on Saturday. But there might be an even bigger reason than avoiding a dangerous team back at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
Teams that go on long Stanley Cup runs need rest.
“It’ll give a few extra guys a little extra time to heal some bumps and bruises and give Mike Knuble a couple extra days,” defenseman Jeff Schultz said.
This series – despite the Caps’ 3-1 lead – has been rough and physical. Bruce Boudreau has used the phrase “tooth and nail,” too, for good measure. Because of that, not enduring the punishment of six or seven games would be beneficial in the coming weeks.
“They’re a physical team. And with any series, the earlier you get it, the more rest your team has,” defenseman John Erskine said. “It would definitely be nice to go in, get a good game [Saturday] and hopefully end the series.”
The most games a Stanley Cup champion has required to win it all since the lockout was 25 (the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes). But with Michal Neuvirth seemingly being “the guy” barring injury or a meltdown, it couldn’t hurt to spare him some extra minutes as well.
Of course, as Scott Hannan pointed out, the Caps can’t think long term and look beyond this Game 5 either.
“We’re just thinking of it as a game and a series here,” he said. “We know these are the tough ones to win; you gotta seal a team out when you’re given the chance.”