Alan May breaks down what needs to be done in Game 7
And so the Capitals’ first-round playoff series against the Rangers has come down to one game.
After 313 shots, 291 saves, two series-ending concussions and enough bad blood to cover all of Transylvania, the Caps and Rangers will decide which team moves on to the second round of the playoffs tonight at 8 when they butt helmets at Verizon Center [7 p.m. Capitals Central].
In their history, the Capitals have played 11 Game 7s and have won just three of them. They’ve played eight at home and have won just two.
The Rangers have played 10 Game 7s in their playoff history and have won half of them. But they have never won a Game 7 on the road [0-5].
So what do members of the two teams have to say about the chance to either move on to Round 2 against the winner of tonight’s Game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins, or pack their belongings for a long summer vacation?
Let’s take a listen:
Rangers coach John Tortorella on "no day off" between Games 6 and 7: “I’m not sure if it benefits anybody. It is what it is. Both teams knew it going in. I know if I’m a player I want to play right away. They don’t want to listen to coaches this time of year. They don’t want to look at video. They want to play the games and find out where they’re at. You make your legacy as a player in these types of situations. A number of our guys last year had a blast playing in these games. Some guys handle it and some guys don’t, but that’s what you play for, to get yourself in this type of situation and see what type of character you have as a player, individually, and as a team.”
Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner on the benefits of playing at home: “The feeling you get when you do win that Game 7, there’s nothing quite like it. That’s the fuel that pushes you over the edge. Rest would be nice, but they’re in the same boat. Hopefully, that home-ice advantage is something we can benefit from.”
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who won two Game 7s at home last year: “If you lose two in overtime, you’re close. It’s just a bounce and you win it, so we know we can do it. We have to play a really hard and smart game. I feel like they always come a little harder in their home building, but we can build on this one [in Game 6]. From the get-go we did all the things we talked about – forechecked, played physical. It was fun.”
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who went 1-1 in two Game 7s on the road last year: “It’s exciting but you have to dumb it down and play it like any other game, just do the things that make you successful. We went through the whole regular season trying to plan for these moments and it’s time for us to take advantage.”
Rangers center Derrick Brassard on his team’s mental approach to facing elimination two nights in a row: “We are just going to have the same mentality we had coming into [Game 6]. We just played our game, had fun, it was positive. The guys were relaxed and that’s what we need to do [tonight].”
Capitals center Matt Hendricks on what needs to be different in Game 7: “You’ve got to give New York credit. They did a good job of holding us at their blue line, There were opportunities for us to put pucks in deep and we didn’t do that. We tried to rely on our skill. A lot of times that works but [in Game 6] it didn’t. I give New York credit for that We need to get back to the basics [tonight] and try to outwork them because they’re a hard-working hockey team. We need to get pucks out, get into foot races and try to get them out of position. That’s how we get chances to score.”
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom on whether playing in six career Game 7s is an advantage: “Hopefully a lot. We were in this situation last year as well. Hopefully, we can take advantage of that. There are two good teams out there.”
Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer on each team wining its home games: “We’ve got three wins at home and that’s why we work all season to get home ice. Our crowd, our building and hopefully an excited fan base.”