Capitals-Rangers Game Five Preview: Do-or-Die for Washington

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Capitals-Rangers Game Five Preview: Do-or-Die for Washington
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals, down three games to one, host the New York Rangers in Game Five of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's do-or-die for the Caps, facing elimination to the seventh seed in a series they were heavily favored in.


Green named as Norris finalist, but not feeling well

Defenseman Mike Green, one of three Norris Trophy finalists and just the seventh defenseman in NHL history to record a 30-goal season, has recorded just two secondary assists in the four games. He acknowledged that he is not playing at full strength.

"I haven't felt up to par," said Green, who has been suffering from flu-like symptoms all series. "I'm finally getting my mind back and my game under control."

He'll have to dig deep tonight to find some of the energy and speed that earned him the accolades for his performance this season.

"It's definitely a big honor and I'm very proud," Green said yesterday. "It's been a long season and to be rewarded like that is pretty special."


One game at a time

Coach Bruce Boudreau is taking a pragmatic approach to the task at hand.

"We just have to take it one game at a time," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If we look at it as [being down] 3-1, it's a daunting task. To have to win three games against this goalie, that will make it tough. But if we look at it, we just have to win Friday. And then we'll worry about Sunday when Sunday comes. To me it's a one-game series right now."

The Caps rallied from being down 3-1 to Philadelphia last season before losing Game Seven, so this isn't uncharted waters. But Boudreau doesn't want this year's team thinking about last year's fate.

"But if we dwell on last year, we'll end up where we were last year, so we've got to dwell on what's in front of us. It's a new situation, a new team. We didn't get the job done last year, and this year hopefully in the same situation we will."

Rocking the red

On Tuesday, Alex Ovechkin admitted surfing the Internet message boards to gauge the feelings on the Capitals' rabid fan base.

"I just want to see how our fans react," Ovechkin said. "Of course, they're not happy, but we're not happy, either. But it is what it is. We lost three games. I think we play good enough in the games, but one guy beats our team."

The "one guy" to whom he referred is Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has played extremely well in New York's three wins. Lundqvist allowed just one goal on 39 shots in Game Three.

Brooks Laich made the solution simple, "We just have to make sure to find a way to bear down on our opportunities and somehow find the back of the net."

Ovechkin had a message to relay to all those rocking the red Friday night for Game Five: "Keep your head up. We need support right now," Ovechkin said. "Like last year. Fans were great all season long. Wish us well. Scream loud."

The owner, Ted Leonsis, got into the act as well. On his blog this morning, he had this to say to his team's fans:
"When All is Said and Done…Usually more is said than done.

We don’t have to say too much now. It is win or go home.

We know it. Our fans know it. The media knows it.

The New York Post today blared a headline this morning “Lundquist Set to Cap-ture Series”. Get it?

We are in a 3-1 hole and not many people are expecting us to climb out of it.

It is put up or shut up.

See you tonight at Verizon. Rock the Red. Be loud and proud. Go Caps!"
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