A year has passed and the song remains the same, "we can be done by Wednesday of next week".
What difference one year has made?
First of all and the most important, Caps are finally playing trap, which is essential in playoffs and that what the whole Capitals community, starting from fans to team owner Ted Leonsis wanted.
Second, GMGM did an excellent job of bringing veterans for playoffs run, again, as we all know, veterans win the Cup. Jason Arnott maybe the final piece of a puzzle for Caps, to me, he brings the very important thing for younger players, confidence. From Mike Wise TWP article:
“You don’t have many chances to win [the Stanley Cup]. When you have a special team like this, you want to make sure you give yourself every chance.”
On how he is helping Ovi to captain the team:
"With Ovi, I know he is the leader of this team and the team runs when he goes. How he’s thinking, what he feels, is important. He doesn’t always know how to talk to the team about how he feels because of his English, but if I can draw that from him, it’s that much easier to understand."
Speaking of veterans, Caps team can be categorized as a veteran team now. No pain, no gain, right? They've learned a whole lot and they know how desperate they must be to advance. One week and you're out, leading series 3:1 and still losing it in the first round. Nothing is guaranteed, you must work on every shift and the whole game in order to win.
And third, I hope they would be more respectful to the opponents, one lil' phrase can ignite the opposing team and change the momentum. Do you remember last year Boudreau's "Tomas who? Jagr?" in response to Tomas Plekanec's claim that Canadiens had better goaltending? Comes next game and Plekanec scores an overtime winner.
How about Ovi's remark on Halak:
I watched the replay when Fehr scored the goal and his arm was shaking when he drink water. So he's nervous. He knows the pressure on him and it's a good sign for us.
And that was it, Halak won the series.
Unlike Halak, Henrik Lundqvist is solvable. He can stand on his head, but he has lost to Caps before. Personally I categorize this by measuring it against Ovi's shots, especially wrist shots. I know it's not scientific, but if the goalie stops vintage Ovechkin shots, for instance, wrist shots fired from behind d-man, the ones that Ovi usually puts in the net, then the goalie is "hot" and we know how much trouble it creates for Caps. Henrik can do it, but not very consistently.
But... this year Caps have their secret weapon, Matt Hendricks...
By Mike Vogel, Feb. 5, 2011, Dump'n'Chase:
At the other end of the ice, Caps winger Matt Hendricks took it upon himself to get under the skin of Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, who had blanked the Caps in each of his two previous starts against Washington. Less than a minute after Hendricks took a run at Roloson, the Caps solved the veteran goalie and stopped his personal shutout streak against Washington at 135 minutes and 42 seconds.
So let the series begin, and we all hope that by Wednesday of next week Caps will still be in playoffs. Ovi, Backstrom, Semin just started to warm up before the season ended, and passing through the first round would do just that, it will make them hot.
By Stuart Weinberg, The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 13, 2011, "The Blueprint for Stopping Ovechkin":
Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said his team hasn't devised a master plan to jumpstart Ovechkin. "I mean we will not dissect frame by frame where Alex has to go," he said. "We say, 'Alex, the guy is putting back pressure on you. They're not allowing you the middle of the ice. You've got to find something different to do."
Boudreau also isn't worried about his team's captain. "He's still the same beast," he said. "He still hits. He still shoots."
All you need now is to win 4 games :-) and then... the sky is the limit... (Semin scores 2 in the finals, Ovi wins Conn Smythe trophy, am I dreaming? Yes, I am... :-)
Go, Ovi, go Caps!
Alex Ovechkin talks about the Caps' playoff chances at Kettler Ice Complex (Apr. 12, 2011):
View more videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com.Ovechkin: "You have to play your best"
Joe Beninati (on "what people ask you when you go out?"):
"It is always Alex Ovechkin."
Joe is my favorite hockey announcer. Sometimes I think Ovi's goals wouldn't be as good without his voice. :-) Probably 99% of all Ovi's videos on YouTube have his voice.