Gametime: 7:30 EST TV: NBC Sports Network
Eastern Conference Semifinals
New York leads Washington 1-0
Countrymates Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin often found ways to guide the Washington Capitals to victory in the regular season. It seemed as though one of the Russians was making a big play in every desperate win down the stretch.
Unfortunately, the two may have done more harm than good in Saturday's Game 1 loss to the New York Rangers.
Ovechkin and Semin combined for four shots. Each had a -1 rating. Zero total points. Worst of all, the two combined for three stick penalties. (accounted for all three Washington infractions)
If the Capitals are to defeat the Rangers in this series (much less tonight), the two star players have to play like it.
In round one against the Bruins, the pair combined for 5 of the 16 goals scored. Ovechkin added three assists, and Semin showcased his defensive ability (!?) by blocking Zdeno Chara rockets and diving for pucks.
Sure, role players for the Capitals play a vital part in the series, and have the ability to win games. (Ex: Hendricks and Ward in Game 7) But Brooks Laich said it best to reporters yesterday describing how important it is to have the star players stepping up.
"Your top guys have to be your top guys and accept responsibility for that and be better next game. We need to be better right from our best players down.”
Well said, Brooksy. (with that being said, Laich needs to do better than 2-for-10 in face-offs)
Although Semin was "demoted" to the fourth line in practice, Capitals 101 expects Hunter to put Semin back on the second line, perhaps in the first period. (WaPo) Caps fans should look at it as more of a kick in the ass than anything.
The Capitals are in the same situation as the Boston series. Win Game 2 and wrestle away home-ice advantage, or be faced with an 0-2 deficit heading back to Washington. We are likely to see a much more desperate Washington team than Saturday, which seemed to be the case in Game 2 against the Bruins.
Braden Holtby will be dueling against Henrik Lundqvist once again, and Holtby is hoping to avoid the first back-to-back losses of his NHL playoff career. Holtsy needs to rebound in a big way after allowing 3 goals on just 14 shots in Game 1. (set a Capitals franchise-low for shots allowed in a road playoff game)
Dale Hunter is electing to insert Jeff Schultz in the lineup over John Erskine, and Schultz last played in Game 7 against Boston.
Facing pretty much a must-win situation, it will be interesting to see how the Capitals respond.
Specifically, the two star Russians.
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