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To the Capitals, that’s more valuable as bulletin-board motivation than it is a discouraging reminder of their long odds (30-to-1 to win the Cup by the online sportsbook Bovada). Although Laich tossed aside the underdog label, it might be the most comfortable one for this team, which is now free of the burden of expectations.

“The last couple years, everybody thought we were going to be undefeated and it was going to be easy for us in the playoffs. We lost,” Ovechkin said. “[In the] situation right now, we don’t have to listen to you guys, to fans, what they say. We just have to concentrate.”