Adam Oates expressed concern over the Washington Capitals’ start in Game 5 after the coach said opening poorly played a role in losing the previous two at the New York Rangers.
“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.”
Asked if he just wanted a good start or if he was worried about how his team would come out of the gate, Oates said: “Quite honestly, we talked about let’s not be tight. 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 pointed to the starts as the difference between wins in Games 1 and 2 and losses in Games 3 and 4.
“Both games, our start wasn’t what we wanted,” he said. “They only had one chance to the goal, which was three and a half minutes left in the period, but it still felt like more because we didn’t play our game. We gave them second opportunities in our end. We didn’t clear the puck. We didn’t get it out. We didn’t go north. Yeah, they didn’t get chances, but it’s not like they were all over us.”
Except it looked and felt like it. The Rangers outshot the Caps 13-6 in the first period.
Some of that has to do with New York’s aggressive forecheck that comes in riptides.
“That’s why whoever draws blood first, it’s their building, their crowd,” Oates said. “Any opportunity that we had to keep the crowd quiet and not let them succeed, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times. That’s turnovers. That’s just not getting it deep. Sometimes just mishandling the puck – all the scenarios. We did a better job at home, and we have to get back to that.”