Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tracee Hamilton of the Washington Post,
This is how you break a team’s back—you get some breaks at home [Game 2], you get a strong performance from your goalie, you get everyone involved in the offense, you swarm the net and create opportunities, and you deliver a spanking to your opponents—on their ice.
You keep your skate blade firmly planted in their necks. And you turn their own weapon—a loud and boisterous crowd—against them. By the end of the game, Ovechkin and “TAY-OH” were largely forgotten; the boos were directed at Le Tricolore.
from the Stanley Cup Blog at CBC,
Alexander Ovechkin said at Sunday’s practice in Arlington, Va., that he believed Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak looks shaken.
“I watched the replay when Fehr scored the goal and his arm was shaking when he drank water,” Ovechkin said of Halak after he allowed Eric Fehr to score on a breakaway in the first period of Game 2. “So, he’s nervous. He knows all the pressure is on him and that’s a good sign for us.”
Halak did not address reporters after last night’s game, and he declined again today, choosing instead to send a message through the Canadiens PR department that he won’t get into a war of words through the media.
That’s fair enough, and frankly whether Halak wants to talk to reporters or not is his prerogative.
But when an opponent claims you look nervous and that the pressure is getting to you, then you choose not to address those comments, does it not in some small way prove that he is right?
from Tony Gallagther of the Vancouver Province,
We all are learning to love conspiracy theories here in Vancouver with respect to hockey, so much so that we could be made honorary Americans who seem to celebrate the genre like nobody else.
So here goes, although sadly many Vancouver fans have suspected this one before.
Did you notice when the Montreal Canadiens were up big in their game against the Washington Capitals and were threatening to take a 2-0 series lead against the league’s most promoted team and most promoted player in Alex Ovechkin, they suddenly ran into a series of highly questionable penalties.
Odd how that happens, sort of reminds you of how a team threatening to take a big lead in nationally televised NBA game suddenly runs into weird offensive fouls and travelling violations while the trailing team seems to be able to pull a gun and not get a foul.
Nicklas Backstrom’s 3rd goal of the game was also the game-winner.
Series tied 1-1 and now shifts to Montreal for two games.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
For the first time, Boudreau suggested perhaps not having played games with a real sense of urgency down the stretch during the regular season may have been an issue for the Caps in Game 1, a 3-2 overtime win for Montreal.
“It’s been awhile, other than the other night, that we had a real meaningful game for us, so maybe it was a wake-up call,” Boudreau said. “It is a big deal [losing Game 1), but we’ll just take it one game at a time and go out there and play as good as we can tonight and see where it goes. The one thing I do believe, if it even got down to 3-0, I don’t think we ever think that we’re not capable of winning.”
Captain Alex Ovechkin agreed that perhaps the Game 1 result will refocus the Caps.
“I think it was just a wake-up call,” Ovechkin said. “You’re right, we didn’t play our best game or an intense game probably [for] the last month, but in the playoffs, you concentrate 100 percent, and every time you have a chance to do something, you just concentrate. That’s probably the biggest thing, but today is a new day and a new game.”
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider,
“I don’t know why, but last game, I don’t feel that power or something,” Ovechkin said to the throng of media. “I talked to Bruce, and how I said, I didn’t play my game at all last night. It’s not about Montreal. It’s all about me.”
That may be true. But the Canadiens also deserve credit. In fact, they’ve held Ovechkin without a goal four times in five games this season and without a point on three occasions.
Ovechkin saw all three Canadiens defensive pairs early and was matched up a lot against Jaroslav Spacek in the third period. It wasn’t just Spacek, though. It was the combination of Montreal’s veteran defensemen getting in Ovechkin’s face and the Habs’ forwards diligently applying pressure from back side. The end result? Ovechkin had nowhere to go with the puck.
“He’s been played like this,” Boudreau said. “It’s not a secret. Everybody plays him like this.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Montreal’s little men played big, the hometown stars played small and my goodness, Toto, do the Capitals ever know they’re not in Kansas anymore.
See, the last two playoffs were easy for the Boys from D.C. They were cool, they scored goals, they had swagger, they won some and lost some and went home with everyone believing their best days were ahead.
Then came these Stanley Cup playoffs. Brand new enchilada. Being the favourites, having lapped the field during regular season, created an entirely new dynamic that the Caps, quite frankly, didn’t seem to handle very well in their playoff opener against Montreal.
If I played for the Washington Capitals, I wouldn’t worry that Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak was just a tad more brilliant than Theodore in net Thursday night in Game 1 of the first-round Stanley Cup playoff series between the supposed indomitable Caps and the allegedly helpless Habs; I’d worry my team was out-shot, out-skated and outplayed in overtime of a siren-sounding loss to start the NHL postseason.
-Mike Wise of the Washington Post. More from Mike.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Ovechkin talked to the media after the game and here’s what he had to say:
Q: Was there anything in particular that was going wrong for you tonight?
Ovechkin: I think our line didn’t play in their zone at all. We had a couple of chances and we score one, but still we didn’t play our game like we want to.
Q: Was the reason you couldn’t play in the zone a lot more about what you did wrong or what they did right?
Ovechkin: I think it’s all about us. If we had a chance to play in the zone and they got the puck they just put the puck in the neutral zone and we had to go back. I don’t know. Maybe we just have to play simple. Maybe we have to play more close to each other. I don’t know. We’re going to think about it, watch the game and make some changes.
Tomas Plekanec with the game winner. Looks like it could be a longer series than most expected.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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