Rise and shine, it’s an early 12:30 start for the Capitals and Rangers today at Verizon Center, where the “pre-gaming’ menu at the Green Turtle might need to include Mimosas and Bloody Marys.
How do the Caps feel about wiping the sleep from their eyes and jumping onto a sheet of ice? Do they enjoy these early puck drops?
“Maybe not the 12:30 games,” Caps right wing Troy Brouwer said. “Maybe the 2:30 games. It’s like you’re pre-game nap is your night’s sleep.”
For the record, the Caps went 3-4-0 in day games this season and were outscored 22-18. One of those losses was a 4-1 setback to the Rangers on March 10 at Verizon Center. The Caps won three of their first four day games but lost their final three by a combined score of 13-4.
The Rangers are 3-1-0 in day games this season, outscoring their opponents 12-5.
“Both teams have the same circumstances,” said Caps goaltender Braden Holtby, who was magnificent in stopping 35 of 36 shots in Game 1 to improve his playoff record to 8-7. “You chagfe your routine a little bit but once you get to the rink it feels the same. You get into your routine and you almost forget it’s the middle of the day.”
Holtby said there is nothing that wakes up a player like seeing 18,000 red-faced fans screaming at the top of their lungs.
“Positive energy is always a benefit,” he said. “Our crowd here is probably the most positive hockey fans I’ve ever seen. That’s great. But at the same time you can’t get too jacked up. You have to use it the right way.”
Monster Nash: Rangers right wing Rick Nash has won two gold medals for Canada, a Rocket Richard Trophy, and has appeared in five NHL All-Star games.
In 10 NHL seasons he has 310 goals.
But there is still one thing Nash has never won – a Stanley Cup playoff game.
In nine seasons in the hockey purgatory of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nash played in just one playoff series. He scored one goal as the Blue Jackets were swept in the first round of the 2009 playoffs.
In Game 1 Nash led all skaters with eight shots and had another six attempts either blocked or miss the net. That will need to change if the Rangers hope to climb back in the series and get Nash his first career playoff victory.
“You’ve got to work for that right angle, make sure that shin pads are out of the way and you can get a good shot on net,” Nash told reporters on Friday. “I had some good opportunities, but they didn’t go in.”