- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Being a film buff, Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau certainly can appreciate the scene in one particular Philadelphia movie, “Rocky III.”

Clubber Lang is asked to describe his upcoming fight against Rocky Balboa, and he replies: “Pain.”

I asked Boudreau whether there is one word to describe what his Caps, coming off a loss Sunday that evened this quarterfinal playoff series at 1-1, must do tonight when they face the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 at Wachovia Center.

“I don’t know if you can describe it with one word,” Boudreau said yesterday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Try this one, coach: respond.

“We are looking for a big response here in Game 3, and hopefully we can get it,” center Brooks Laich said.

How will the Caps respond to their inability to get someone in front of the net to break down the defense and pick off the puck?

“We are trying to fight our way to the net and find ways to create chances,” Laich said after his team watched video of how they failed to respond to the challenge in Game 2. “I think there are things we can do better.”

How will the Caps respond to their reliance on their superstar, Alex Ovechkin, and give the Flyers more weapons to worry about?

“Everybody tried to win the whole thing and not as a team,” Ovechkin said. “This is a big key for our game. If we don’t play together, it does not work.”

How will the Caps respond to playoff hockey in the insane asylum known as Philadelphia?

“Philadelphia has pretty rabid fans,” Boudreau said. “They will get them going. Everything multiplies when the playoffs come. Whether we had success or not [in Philadelphia] — we could be 0-10, but this is a new season. A lot of things you throw out once the playoffs come. They will be crazy fans, but I’ve got to believe we are used to it. We’ve had some pretty good fan support ourselves lately.”

Respond — OK, Boudreau will buy that word.

“I have to believe, yes, how we respond,” he said. “We can’t play like we did yesterday, or it won’t be a long series.”

That’s how it works in a best-of-seven playoff series. Every game is a response to what your opponent did the game before — especially if your opponent beats you as thoroughly as the Flyers did the Caps on Sunday.

The Flyers actually didn’t have to change much after their Game 1 loss. They played the Caps pretty well in the opener Friday night, save for the breakdowns that led to the two third-period goals by Mike Green that tied the score and the steal by Ovechkin that led to his game-winning goal and a 5-4 victory.

The Caps, though, will have to make a significant change in how they have approached their offense. It appears that among the worker bees, someone is going to have to provide the sting.

“Depth can carry you a long way,” Laich said. “You can’t rely on one or two guys all the time. When we do have success, it’s because we get scoring from three or four lines, and it’s not just Alex all the time doing it. We have to pay more of a price on the other lines and get the puck deep, get on the bodies and good things will happen.”

Not everyone is buying respond as the word of the day, though.

“I’m not worried about how we will respond,” Matt Cooke said.

OK, here’s another word: commitment.

As Sean Connery said to Kevin Costner in “The Untouchables” when faced with bringing down Al Capone: “What are you prepared to do?”

“The playoffs are not a game where you can play 70 percent good,” Boudreau said. “You have to be 100 percent committed to winning. I didn’t think yesterday we were 100 percent committed, nobody on our team. We kind of thought we were, but we weren’t.”

Here’s what legendary Flyers coach Fred Shero had to say about commitment: “The difference between making a contribution and making a commitment is like eggs and ham for breakfast. The chicken makes a contribution. The pig makes a commitment.”

The Caps need some of the latter on the ice tonight, or else the word to describe this playoff series for Washington indeed will be “pain.”

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