By Jay Sekulow
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Because the Washington Capitals were done before the final horn in Game 7 Monday night, those watching had some extra time to contemplate general manager George McPhee's work this offseason. But after the Caps became the only NHL team to make the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of the past six years and not reach at least the conference finals, don't expect much to look different when they open the 2013-14 season.
Against a team with a more functional power play, Washington would already be done. The Rangers are 2-for-26 with the man advantage (including 0-for-3 when up five-on-three) through six games.
He hadn't scored for the Washington Capitals since April 18 and he hadn't scored in the playoffs since April 27, 2008. Still, the playmaking No. 2 center didn't let shifts that went by without production shake him.
Even seeing Lundqvist in the postseason three of the past four years and enjoying some success against the 31-year-old didn't unlock too many secrets. What the Caps know is that it's not just about getting a lot of shots on net because he can shrug them off.
Washington again failed to take a 3-0 series lead, a feat that has never been accomplished in 21 playoff series in franchise history. Instead, the Rangers have life going into Game 4 Wednesday night.
Braden Holtby didn't break much of a sweat in picking up his first career Stanley Cup playoff shutout Saturday. The Washington Capitals goaltender helped extend the New York Rangers' scoreless streak to 111 minutes and 16 seconds, but it wasn't like he had to do much to win Game 2
Fans at Verizon Center leapt to their feet as soon as the whistle blew. The Washington Capitals hadn't scored a goal all afternoon, but with the Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green-led power play about to take the ice, it felt automatic.
It's hard to believe Rule 63.2 would make the difference in a playoff game, actually in the Caps' favor. Though as they showed in Saturday's Game 2 overtime victory against the Rangers, they're well-positioned to take advantage of one of the few times officials can't swallow their whistles.
Mike Green’s eighth career overtime goal and first overtime playoff winner earned Washington a 2-0 series lead and kept its home ice advantage ahead of Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The Capitals were in this position two seasons ago and went on to beat the Rangers four games to one in the quarterfinals.
Dale Hunter's 2012 team flipped a switch when the playoffs began. Adam Oates' team showed in Game 1 against the Rangers that nothing changed from the regular season.
After a victory late in the regular season that included two goals by Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom was asked if it felt like the "good old days" when the franchise cornerstones powered a high-scoring team. "It depends how it is in the playoffs," he said. "And we weren't that successful in the playoffs in the past."
The Capitals' reputation as a team that can't get it done in the playoffs is well-established. Here's a look at how each playoff exit happened, with some help from ex-coach Bruce Boudreau.
Adam Oates walked into the locker room after the Washington Capitals' final regular-season game Saturday night and told captain Alex Ovechkin he wanted to meet with players after they spoke to reporters. The coach wanted to make sure his guys were prepared to face the New York Rangers in the playoffs beginning Tuesday. The only problem is the Caps and Rangers' Eastern Conference quarterfinal series starts Thursday, not Tuesday, throwing the variable of extra rest into the equation.
Scoring his 11th and 12th goals of the season, the defenseman reminded everyone of his value to the Washington Capitals in Saturday night's 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins.
Even though injury has limited Erat to seven games in a Caps uniform, his arrival meant everything within a locker room of an Eastern Conference contender.
"Already really looking forward to next season just because we know that we have a great team," said Green, who led NHL defensemen in goals during the regular season with 12. "Everything is in place and I think we're going to be good, really good, for a long time. ... We're going to win a Cup here."
Oates took issue with what he thought was a slew foot by Derek Dorsett on defenseman Mike Green but said, "5-0 in power plays, you don't want to complain."