Capitals focused on present, not past

Capitals focused on present, not past
April 22, 2011, 6:22 pm
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Friday, April 22, 2011, 2:21 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff WriterCSNwashington.com

Even the Capitals players who werent here last year know what happened in the playoffs power-play incompetence, early Game 5 collapse, stunning series defeat.

And they dont care.

Its done and over with, center Jason Arnott said. We have to think about moving forward, and thats tomorrow afternoon.

Those who absorbed the stunner have adopted the same mind-set.

I dont remember nothing, captain Alex Ovechkin said. I forget about it. It is new year, new series, new team. If you remember everything bad, then its going to be bad for you.

Bad for the Capitals would be a third trip to New York for Mondays Game 6.

Good for the Capitals would be an elimination of the pesky Rangers Saturday during their first chance to exorcise last years demons and the first chance to show that, yes, this team is different from the previous clubs who lacked That One Thing to propel them to the next round.

But it wont be easy.

Even though they hold a commanding series lead, the Capitals have led only for 37 minutes, 49 seconds of actual game time (all in Game 2) because two of their wins have come in overtime. They still need more from their stars, still need their initial first-period goal of the series and still need to stay out of the penalty box.

Very little margin for error in this series, coach Bruce Boudreau said. Both teams are doing exactly what theyre supposed to be doing.

What the Capitals did on Friday was return to the ice before a jam-packed holiday crowd, but not before reviewing video of how they dug themselves a 3-0 deficit.

There were certain things we had to correct and fix, and if we do that and come out strong like we did in the third, hopefully it will go our way from the beginning, Arnott said.

What Boudreaus presentation didnt include was last years Game 5 against Montreal. The Habs scored at the 1:30 and 7:01 marks of the first period. From there, goalie Jaroslav Halak took over, stopping 131 of 134 shots in the final three games.

I think they know what happened in Game 5, the first 10 minutes, Boudreau said. We talked about it many times throughout the course of the year. Im not going to show videotape.

I see everything as team-oriented. I dont think we have anybody thinking, I can redeem myself or I can look better. We just want to go out there as a team and do better.

Just like the Canadiens showed they could forget about two home losses and rally last year, Boudreau expects the Rangers to not be obsessed with how they blew a three-goal lead on home ice.

I guarantee the New York Rangers have forgotten about it just like we forgot about Game 3, he said. Everything is starting brand new, one on one, team vs. team.

Not only are the Capitals trying to erase recent history, but also their long-term Game 5 struggles with a 3-1 series lead.

Eight times, the Capitals have entered Game 5 of a best-of-seven series with a chance to clinch and, seven times, theyve failed to finish off an opponent. The last time the Capitals won in five games was 1990 over, yep, the Rangers.

For their part, the Rangers dont have history on their side, either. The Blueshirts have been down 3-1 in a series 14 times and have lost every time. Ten times including the past five times theyve departed in the fifth game.

Boudreau is undoubtedly banking on the new, veteran faces to make a difference, among them Arnott, Scott Hannan and Marco Sturm.

They know Game 5 will be a struggle, but if the Capitals carry over their quality of play from the end of Game 4, they like their chances.

To finish a team off is very hard, Arnott said. Theyll be playing with every emotion, and we have to match that or be better. We cant get too overconfident or overanxious. We have to play relaxed, play our system and play hard.

Hannan said: These are the toughest ones to win. You have to seal a team out when given the chance. We know its a big game. We have to take the energy from the building that we know were going to have and play the way we know we can. When we play like we can, were a pretty tough team to beat.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.