Capitals-Rangers Game 2 chat

Apr 15, 2011

Washington Post sports reporter Katie Carrera previewed Game 2 of the Capitals' playoff series against the New York Rangers, which the Caps lead 1-0.

Welcome back everyone for another Capitals chat. If you have questions about Game 2 against the Rangers tonight, the series in general or anything Capitals related send them my way. 

Hi Katie....what is up with Eric Fehr? Is he hurt again? I don't understand how he can be a healthy scratch when Bradley and Sturm are playing.... Jeff Brampton, Ontariio

Eric Fehr is a healthy scratch and the odd man out right now with 15 healthy forwards on the Capitals' roster. Bruce Boudreau won't hesitate to change things up if and when he feels that is necessary but if the Capitals keep winning we'll likely see the same lineup. 

Arguments can be made to sit one player or another but I know that Boudreau and the Capitals like the way that fourth line of Hendricks-Gordon-Bradley works together. They've been one of the most consistent units that Boudreau has used since the trade deadline. Also the third line as currently constructed with Laich-Johansson-Chimera has plenty of speed and scoring ability along with a healthy dose of defensive responsibility.

Boudreau typically likes to have three scoring lines and a fourth energy line. Right now he appears to have that, even if there weren't many goals scored in Game 1 all three of those top lines had scoring chances. 

Katie, Based on the amount of minutes he logged in Game 1, Mike Green appears to be in great shape after a long absence. And based on what Joe B. and Locker said as overtime progressed, Green gets better the more time he gets. It looked like he could've gone another OT or two. What are your thoughts about Green being a big impact throughout the playoffs, and how did Boudreau think Green played?

I think everyone (including Green) was a little surprised at the minutes he got in his first game back. Green told reporters after Game 1 that he had asked to be eased back into things but that he felt good and I'd have to agree with Joe and Locker's assessment. 

Green may have been a little rusty in spots, for example the miscommunication on Gilroy's goal, but overall he didn't look like a player who hadn't seen game action in nearly two months and that was Bruce Boudreau's report after the game as well. 

As for what to expect from Green this postseason, it will be an interesting storyline to watch. He wants (and the Capitals need him) to be an impact player in the playoffs after previous disappointments and what may help him do that is being healthy and well rested at this time of year.


Sounds lke Dennis Wideman may be back sooner rather than later. With Green already back who would BB sit? The Karlzner duo, Hannan, Wideman and Green would seem to be locks, leaving Schultz and Erskine. Erskine's physical presence would be missed if he's the guy left out, no?

It's an intriguing question for sure and right now I don't know for certain who would sit because a case could be made either way. Wideman being out on the ice this morning surprised several people, including Boudreau, who went on to say that depending on his recovery the defenseman could even return in the first round should this series go long. 

I think it might be a game-to-game decision. Erskine has overachieved this year, stepping up when the Capitals have been riddled with injuries and providing a physical presence but he didn't have the greatest Game 1. Part of that could be simply a lack of experience playing with Green, though. 

Schultz like everyone has his good and bad days and whether he sits may depend on if Boudreau sees him as part of the third pairing or puts him back with Green. That pairing with Green and Schultz has been such a good fit for both Boudreau has talked about reuniting them previously to help the two-time Norris Trophy finalist get back in full swing. That said, Green looked pretty good in the handful of games he played with Hannan this year too. 

Sean Avery apparently gets a jersey tonight. Is he a dagger that will strike at the heart of the Capitals, or a loose cannon who will run amok on the Rangers deck?

Ha. I'm not sure I've ever heard Avery described as a dagger to the heart of a team but he definitely is capable of getting under the Capitals' skin. 

Two years ago Avery was especially effective at that, from yelling at Boudreau (his former coach in the AHL) to hitting Semyon Varlamov in the head and jawing at anyone near him.  I think everyone will be watching to see what Avery might try to stir up, particularly where Michal Neuvirth is concerned, but I don't think he can completely unravel the Capitals' composure on his own.

With how poorly Chimera played with the puck last game, why do you think that Fehr isn't getting a start tonight?

Although Boudreau likes to tinker with lines he does so much, much less when the Capitals win. Capitals won Game 1, so he's going with the same lineup.  

Which Capitals scratch from Game 1 is most likely to get a jersey sometime in this series?

Eric Fehr. It's hard to know exactly when, and it won't be tonight for Game 2, but that will be one of the switches most likely to happen should Boudreau not like the performance of that third line or someone have an extremely poor outing. 

Much has been made of Arnott's leadership since his arrival - do you have any specific examples of things he's done or said? Big thanks for the great coverage!

Arnott has developed good relationships with both Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin, the latter of which seems to soak up everything he can about leadership and playoff wisdom. Arnott goes out to lunch and talks to Ovechkin on a regular basis and he established an open line of communication with Semin, something that hasn't really happened in the past.

I think one of the moments that stood out the most was how Arnott arrived and on day two proclaimed that there were things that the Capitals needed to fix and he was going to bring them up regardless if his teammates wanted to hear it. There are precious few players who will do that but Arnott did. The experience and respect that Arnott brings simply by being a guy who played a substantial role on a Stanley Cup winning team is something that the Capitals needed. 

What was up with Steinberg's painted fingernails? I saw them on the videochat and thought that was sort of bizarre.

You win for the question that made me laugh at my computer. I've asked him about this in the past and I believe it's because his young daughter likes to paint them. 

If Sean Avery does get in Neuvy's face or run him, whose job is it to stop that? Neuvy's? The nearest Caps defender? And can a goalie just push a guy over if he's in the paint?

That will be the job of the entire team. Neuvirth isn't going to allow an opponent to push him around but at the same time he's not Braden Holtby, who I've seen take more than a few whacks and slashes at the back of opposing players' legs and feet when they try to get in his way. 

I don't think the Capitals will let Avery take any liberties with Neuvirth, whether it's the defensemen or forwards who come to keep the Rangers out of the crease will depend on the play and proximity most likely. 

With Mike Knuble signed to a contract extension, do you see him replacing Ovechkin as captain next year? Seems that Knuble is doing a lot of captain's work -- talking to the media, etc. Maybe it would be better to take the captaincy's burden off Ovechkin and let him "live large" on the ice and off. Fairfax Fan

This team is Alex Ovechkin's. The question can be raised as to whether Ovechkin has the seasoning to be a captain and he's certainly not an overly-vocal leader in the room but he does take an enormous amount of pride in being one of the leaders. It's just more of an on-ice role where he sets the tone. For example that crushing hit on Brandon Dubinsky in the first period of Game 1, all of his teammates get a boost from seeing their captain and one of the most gifted hockey players on the planet dish out a hit like that to welcome the Rangers to the postseason. 

Knuble does have a more vocal presence, though he picks and chooses his spots, and that's why he has an "A". I've been told speeches like the one he gave in Boston that was shown on '24/7' is the type of thing that happens rarely, so when it does the rest of the room takes notice. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the Capitals need a good mix of vocal veterans to go along with Ovechkin's more lead-by-example style.

Should the Caps to anything to send a message to the Rangers about the Derek Stepan hit from behind that put Mike Green out for the end of the season, Espicially with Sean Avery in the lineup?

Unless something happens again, I don't think they will. In the days after Green suffered the concussion on Feb. 25, Boudreau said he didn't think it was a malicious hit by Stepan and a few players have said the same thing. 

Looking forward in this series, which is the more encouraging aspect of Game 1: Neuvy doesn't melt under NHL playoff pressure, Semin shows signs of getting hot offensively or Green back and able to skate big minutes?

I think all three are encouraging signs for the Captials, even if it was only one game. If Neuvirth can maintain his calm demeanor in net and continue to succeed it will make Boudreau's decision about who to start in every subsequent game easy and provide some stability in goal for the rest of the team. While the Capitals have grown accustomed to playing in front of three netminders the familiarity with one certainly can't hurt in a playoff run. 

Semin being a positive factor is a major bonus for the Capitals, if not a necessity for their offense. The Rangers are so strong defensively that Washington needs every option it can get chipping in to create chances and even if Semin doesn't score a bushel basket of goals, if he is visible and poses a threat that will keep the defense honest. 

The addition of Green creates another offensive threat and it gives the Capitals their No. 1 defenseman back, can't ask for much more than that at the start of the postseason.

It seems the Caps like to do things the hard way. (i.e. Overtime, Change the whole approach to the game mid-season, last years Montreal series) If the Caps win tonight they will be up two - zero. Will a sense of complacency drift into the Team, or would a loss tonight keep them focused and be the better path to winning the series?

The Capitals have been saying all the right things in this regard but ultimately we'd have to see if that two-game lead comes to fruition and how they would react in Game 3. 

That said, I think the way they let the Canadiens back in the series last year was one of the biggest lessons of that first-round defeat. It showed the Capitals how quickly a series can reverse course and how, whenever they have an opponent down, they must find the killer instinct to win the all-important fourth game. Also, if this team can't stay focused when holding an advantage in the series that would seem to mean that nothing was gleaned from last season's disappointment. Successful teams don't need to lose to be reminded of what's at stake.

Hi Katie... Any news on power play? Only coupe of penalties on Wed., but despite recent progress, I don't thing the PP has been really "fixed"... Any news or thoughts?

Not sure the power play will be considered fixed until the Capitals can count on a goal per game from it, so I agree with you there. They have made progress lately but the inability to cash in with the man-advantage made a big difference in Game 1. If the Capitals scored on one of those early chances maybe the game would have played out differently. 

I'm curious to see how things go on any power plays the Capitals get tonight. Green was back on the point in his first game back so one would think he'd be a little more adjusted in Game 2 for that role so that may help. Also, while the Capitals have made a point to discuss crashing the net against Henrik Lundqvist it didn't happen too much in Game 1. There were plenty of chances, but aside from Ovechkin's goal not many were those gritty, greasy plays in front. If the Capitals can get more in and around the crease and some well-placed traffic it can only help overall, but particularly on the power play.

Thanks for all the questions, everyone. Great stuff as always. It's time for me to head over to Verizon Center for Game 2, but be sure to join me again next week for the another Capitals chat. 

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Katie Carrera
Katie Carrera covers the Capitals for The Washington Post.
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