NEW YORK -- To some players, Sunday mornings practice at Madison Square Garden was no different than any other.
But to Brooks Laich, the Capitals seemed to lack the same intensity that was missing in Saturdays series-opening 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers and he planned on addressing it.
Its an intense time of year and were here to win, Laich said. It takes so much to win and every little thing matters. If there are things I think we can be doing better Im going to find a way to get the most out of our guys. Its something well address in the room and I dont really care to share much more than that.
Maybe Laich was referring to Alexander Semin sulking on the bench after he was removed from a power play drill during practice. Maybe he was referring to defense partners John Carlson and Karl Alzner shooting rolled-up balls of tape into locker room trash cans with their eyes closed.
Maybe its the way he woke up today, Mike Knuble said with a smile. That was a typical practice, nothing atypical about it.
Troy Brouwer said he agreed with Laichs assessment but is not overly concerned as the Caps look toward evening the series Monday night.
Weve been a pretty loose team all year long, Brouwer said. Even the morning skate of Game 7 against Boston we were joking around and having fun. Thats part of the personality of this team. But youve got to make sure youre making crisp passes and being sharp and I think we were a little bit nonchalant today. You cant let it get out of hand, thats for sure.
If there was a common theme in the Capitals locker room on Sunday it was the lack of intensity and lack of focus they showed in Saturdays loss. The Capitals held the Rangers to just 14 shots and shut down their power play on four opportunities, but they were outhit by the Rangers 35-28 in a defensive tug-of-war that was decided in the third period.
Alzner called Saturdays game sloppy and said it reminded him of the way the Capitals played during the regular season. Jay Beagle agreed, saying the Caps spent much of the game chasing the puck and trying to regain possession from the Rangers.
After the game we all were sitting here and we knew it, Beagle said. We were like, Thats not going to cut it. Thats not good enough.
Capitals right wing Joel Ward, who was promoted from the fourth line to a checking unit with Beagle and Matt Hendricks, said the Capitals might have been guilty of thinking the road would be easier after beating the defending Stanley Cup champions in Round 1.
Against a different team, its a bigger monster, Ward said. They finished first in the East and that was for a reason. Theyve got a solid squad, obviously, and they play really well defensively. Weve just got to be a lot more desperate at times and give them back a real good push.