This is how Bruce Boudreau summed up tonight’s game:
“We know they are going to come out hard, and who wouldn’t? They’ve got a chance to put a large stake in our hearts today. We know what that means and we know what we’re up against. We just have to find a way to weather that storm.”
The Caps will try to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole in this series, and Boudreau certainly expects the Rangers to come out flying with a rabid MSG crowd behind them.
“We’re facing adversity for the first time, but pros and winners will adjust to that,” Boudreau said. “They will make the necessary adjustments. If they dwell on the negative, then we’re in trouble. If you want to win the Stanley Cup, every team is going to have to go through something and overcome. This is something we’ll have to overcome.”
Much was made this morning about Alex Ovechkin having zero goals in this series. To be fair, he has created half of his team’s goals, but the point remains that he hasn’t dominated the way a player of his stature is expected to.
Shortly after the beginning of Game 1, Rangers coach John Tortorella swtiched from using Marc Staal and Dan Girardi as his main defenders against Ovechkin to Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival. Since then, Ovechkin hasn’t had quite the same impact.
“I don’t know really notice what he’s going through,” Redden said when asked if he thought Ovechkin was frustrated. “I know every time he is on the ice – I am aware of that. You just have to be focused when’s he on the ice.”
Tortorella said today that he isn’t trying to match guys against Ovechkin as much as people might be leading on.
“He stays out a long time and we knew that going in. Everybody will play against him sooner or later, and they have to be ready to play against him,” he said. “It is not just him, there is a number of different guys on their team. We’re not getting too wrapped in the counter-punching and the running people off the ice and running guys on the ice. I think anyone one of our pairs can play against him. Do I prefer certain guys? Sure, but I think anyone of our lines or our defense pairs can play against their top guys. That’s the only way we can win this series, so we’re not getting too caught up in the matching.”
Boudreau agreed that Ovechkin has been trying to do a little too much on his own in the first two games. There have been several instances when Ovechkin didn’t have any support so he just decided to try and force a shot through the defense. When it is 1-on-3 and the shot doesn’t get through, that is essentially a turnover.
“You just have to talk to him,” Boudreau said. “He is the guy who wants to win more than anybody, and sometimes he has the tendency of trying to do everything by himself. That’s just something that we have to talk to him and say, ‘Hey, Alex, you’ve got 19 other guys here to help you.’ His personality is to want to do everything so hard and so well and you can’t fault him for that. You just have to reel him in sometimes.”
For his part, Ovechkin doesn’t think he needs to change his approach.
“I will just play my game. I play hockey and I do what I can do my best. Everybody thinks I have pressure. It is my fourth year and everybody every day ask me, ‘You have pressure? You have pressure?’ “
Here are a few other quick notes from the morning:
* Jeff Schultz did not skate. He was riding a stationary bike for much of the team’s time on the ice. Boudreau said he doesn’t know when Schultz might return.
* Boudreau said he’s not giving out the lineup before the game. He did say there might be a tweak in the combinations. Only Chris Clark and Brent Johnson stayed out on the ice late.
* Ovechkin stirred up a bit of meaningless fodder for us during the Rangers skate. He went out and sat on one of the team’s benches for a few minutes to watch the skate, and eventually was asked by a member of the Rangers organization to leave.
His take: “I just [wanted] Tortorella [to get] pissed off, and he was.”
Tortorella was not amused when asked about it.
“This is the first I’ve heard of it. Ask me about the game, not that [stuff].”