Washington Capitals Playoffs Round 1 chat

Apr 25, 2011

Washington Post sports reporter Katie Carrera discussed the latest news about the Capitals' playoff series against the New York Rangers.

Hi everyone and welcome back for another Capitals chat. I'm ready to answer all your questions as we brace for a few days of scoreboard watching to see who the Capitals' opponent will be in the second round. Fire away.

Ignoring seeds (since they really don't matter in the NHL), who should the Capitals want to play in the second round. Who do they least want to play, in any round?

The players were asked this question by a few people today and they wisely elected to not answer, or said they didn't care, rather than create some sort of bulletin board material for another team. 

That doesn't keep reporters from discussing matchups in the work room, though. I'd have to think Buffalo might be the best opponent based largely on how banged up the Sabres are right now. They're missing quite a few players to injury and a lengthy seven-game series against Philadelphia doesn't typically lead to a well-rested team moving forward. Granted the Sabres are another defensive-minded team and Ryan Miller is a goaltender who can steal a game or two, but it's hard to tell if Buffalo has the depth to withstand the mounting injuries. 

The other options -- Montreal, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay -- all have their pros and cons as far as matchups go, but they also all have history against the Capitals. In games and series with rivalries and animosity anything can happen.

Looks like Jason Arnott was wearing the A in Game 5. Is that going to be a continued trend? Did you ask Boudreau about it?

Unfortunately I have not asked Boudreau about this but to the best of my knowledge Arnott only began wearing the "A" in Game 5. It's not that surprising of a development considering the leadership role Arnott has taken since arriving in Washington at the trade deadline, but it may have also coincided with Mike Knuble, who has been an alternate captain all season, missing time with his suspected hand injury. 

I'll follow up on it. 

I think we all can agree that getting more time off than our second round opponent will be a good thing for the Caps. But does there come a point where too much time off will hurt the team? I fear a scenario where we are flat in Game 1 because of 4-5 days off. Is this a legitimate concern?

It's definitely a legitimate concern and one that Coach Bruce Boudreau and several players addressed today. The reality is no matter what opponent Washington faces in the Eastern Conference semifinals it will see a team that played in the last five days, while it did not.

Rest is important at this time of year but so is maintaining a constant focus and Boudreau said the Capitals will practice and be at the rink every day this week in an effort to stay sharp. Whether every practice is mandatory remains to be seen, but Boudreau made a point to say that he wants the players together and focused on the upcoming task as much as possible. 


Hi Katie, Any word on the schedule for Round 2 for the Caps?

Right now it's too early to tell.

The NHL won't start the next round until all series in the previous one have been completed and once the matchups are determined, the league along with its television partners will determine a schedule and broadcast plan. That said, the Capitals could possibly start the second round on Friday or Saturday. 

OK, that was fun. Great to see Ovechkin dominate game 5, wonderful news that "good Sasha" seems to be alive and well this postseason, unbelievable that Neuvy is lights out in the NHL playoffs just like he was in Hershey. But round 1 over, so now it's time to get back to normal kvetching. Backstrom had only 1 point in the series. The Caps will be facing much better teams as the playoffs continue. Aren't they going to need more from their top line center?

For your question at the end, the answer is simple: Yes. The longer the Capitals' playoff run continues the more they will need out of everyone on the roster but particularly the star players. 

Nicklas Backstrom didn't have a strong series against the Rangers and not only because he managed to record just one point in five games. Something seemed off for Backstrom in the first round, his passes weren't necessarily as crisp as they usually are and even with a few quality scoring chances against New York he was often reluctant to take a shot when presented with the opportunity. Now, whether that was a result of the opponent we'll see in the semifinals, but the Capitals will certainly need more from Backstrom as the postseason presses on.

Who will the Capitals play in the next round of the playoffs? Or, if we still don't know, how is it decided and what are the most likely scenarios?

We won't know the Capitals' second-round opponent until Tuesday night at the earliest, Wednesday night at the latest. The easiest way to understand how the process works, though, as the NHL re-seeds after the first round is that Washington will face the lowest seed that advances to the second round. 

The Capitals could still play the Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins or Tampa Bay Lightning, depending on how the other Eastern Conference quarterfinal series play out in the next few day. I broke down the various scenarios earlier today at Capitals Insider, but here's a quick recap:

  • The Capitals play Buffalo if the Sabres defeat Philadelphia in their first-round series.
  • The Capitals play Montreal if the Sabres get knocked out and the Canadiens defeat Boston.
  • If Philadelphia and Boston both win their first-round series, the Captials play the winner of the Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay showdown.

What is the status of 3 injured players: Knuble, Wideman, and potentailly Mike Green?

Dennis Wideman skated in full pads for the first time since suffering the leg hematoma this morning and he was on the ice for about 45-50 minutes. Mike Knuble was also on the ice in full pads going through another conditioning workout but he remained on when the Capitals' optional practice began at 11 a.m. where Wideman went to the dressing room shortly after his teammates went out on the ice.

Boudreau said there is no timetable for either Wideman or Knuble to return at this point, but it will be a daily process of seeking updates on both of them because by the time the second round starts one of them may be ready to go again. 

Mike Green didn't skate today but was at KCI. He walked out to the bench and talked to teammates where reporters were able to see a bruise near his left ear after taking the puck to the head in Game 5 on Saturday. Boudreau said Green "is fine" but we should have a better idea on the defenseman's status as early as Tuesday when the Capitals have a full practice scheduled.  

Any ideas who the Caps are looking to call up from Hershey? Also, what role would they play on the team?

When the Capitals bring up players from Hershey, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some who arrive on Tuesday, it's largely for practice purposes and depth just in case injuries occur.

Even if they don't see much (or any) ice time in the playoffs, this time would give the younger players a chance to see what the NHL environment is like in the playoffs from practice intensity to media requirements to the amount of work that goes into a postseason run. 

It seemed to me that Boudreau had no intention of putting Mike Green back into Game 5 with a 2 goal lead. They weren't going to play him if they didn't need to. Do you think there is any chance they'll keep him out of Game 1 to give him more time to recover and maybe keep him out of the series as long as the Caps keep winning?

After Game 5, Boudreau said that because the Capitals held a two-goal lead and were humming along in the contest they wanted to see if they could get by without Green but that they could have played the two-time Norris Trophy finalist. Boudreau also said then that if another defenseman had been forced to leave the game after a fight or an injury they would have put Green back in the game.

Green didn't skate Monday morning, but Boudreau said the defenseman was fine. The team has a mandatory practice scheduled for Tuesday, so we'll see if Green participates. We should have a better idea on Green's status for the upcoming series as the week of practice continues. 

Thanks for all the questions, everyone. Be sure to check back for more live chats as the Capitals' postseason run continues. 

In This Chat
Katie Carrera
Katie Carrera covers the Capitals for The Washington Post.
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