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Posted at 01:56 PM ET, 04/23/2012

Dale Hunter to Caps: ‘You have to enjoy it’


Coach Dale Hunter shares a laugh with centers Marcus Johansson and Mattias Sjogren during an off day on April 13 in Boston. (Jonathan Newton - The Washington Post)
Dale Hunter’s message to his players ahead of Wednesday’s Game 7 in Boston: Enjoy the moment.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Hunter said Monday at KCI, where the Caps took the day off from practice. “It’s a Game 7. Both teams are equal coming in. You have to have fun with it. You have to enjoy it.”

Hunter should know, having played in four Game 7s as a player with the Capitals from 1988-95. 

He ended the series against Philadelphia with an overtime goal in 1988, but was part of teams that lost Game 7s against New Jersey (in ‘88) and Pittsburgh (in ‘92 and ‘95). He had two goals and an assist in those games — all of it coming in the winners-take-all game against the Flyers.

“You keep your routine,” Hunter said. “It’s one game. It’s a one-game series right now. It’s down one; enjoy it. …You can’t wait. You want to play it.”

Hunter said he doesn’t plan on making a rah-rah speech in the locker room before the game.

“They’ll be pumped,” he said. “You don’t have to say much.”

Some other highlights from Hunter’s press conference:

— After blocking an average of 21.8 shots in Games 1-5, the Caps blocked 12 in Game 6. Asked about the decrease, Hunter said the Bruins have made an adjustment.

“From the point, they’re shooting it wide, missing the net more because they don’t want to get it blocked,” Hunter said. “We do the same thing. You tell your D, ‘Don’t get it blocked, don’t get it blocked.’ You miss the first guy [challenging] and that way it keeps it away from [your] net, too.”

Interestingly, here’s what Bruins Claude Julien said before Game 6 about the Caps blocking shots.

“I think you have to look at them right now, and if you watch the game, they’ve adapted, to a certain extent, the New York Rangers’ style,” he said. “Like, they’re just sitting back in their own end and just blocking every shot they can.

“Where we have to be better is we have to find ways to get around that,” Julien added. “The goaltender’s played well, they’re blocking shots and that’s the way they do right now. They’re content to play that way and it’s been successful for them, so this is where we’ve got to find a way to overcome that.”

— Hunter on why Keith Aucoin received 4:01 of power-play ice time in Game 6: 

“He’s a good power-play guy,” Hunter said. “He knows where the open guys are. He created quite a few chances last night. Our power play moved it around pretty well and he was a big part of it.”

Aucoin, the 33-year-old forward who was recalled from Hershey in February, skated more time on the man advantage Sunday than Alexander Semin (3:07). The Caps had eight minutes of power play time in the game.

— Hunter on the Caps being 4-1 at TD Garden this season: But “you have to get the last one. It does give you [confidence] that you can do it in there. But it’s one game. Nothing better than a Game 7.”

More on the Capitals:
Persistence pays off for Tyler Seguin
Bruins edge Caps in overtime to force Game 7
Caps-Bruins playoff shot chart
Hamilton: Caps, Bruins have Game 7 histories
Feinstein: Bruins know how lucky they got

By  |  01:56 PM ET, 04/23/2012

 
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