For the majority of the Capitals, a win tonight in New York would catapult them into new territory with a berth in the Eastern Conference finals.
With the exception of Mike Knuble, Troy Brouwer and Roman Hamrlik, the Capitals who have suited up in the postseason have never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs. They’re all aware of how close they are to cracking that glass ceiling.
“You know we never been there before, it’s huge,” Alex Ovechkin said. “Sometimes you just dream about it — to be there, you know you’re only one step from the [Stanley Cup] final.”
Said Brooks Laich: “We’re desperate to get there. You can’t keep saying every year, ‘Well we’ve got a good team and it will come.’ Eventually you have to push through and do it.”
This marks the sixth Game 7 of the Ovechkin era (since 2008), but they’re 2-3 in those decisive contests heading into this showdown with the Rangers.
No one needs to be reminded of the stakes, and on Saturday morning the Capitals’ dressing room at Madison Square Garden had a businesslike feel. The players appeared relaxed, but composed.
Washington won a Game 7 on the road a little over two weeks ago in Boston and there’s no lack of confidence among the players that they can’t play the same simple style that got them this far to one more victory tonight in the world’s most famous arena.
Goaltender Braden Holtby expressed some unhappiness with his performance in the morning skate, but stressed how comfortable he and his teammates feel heading into another elimination game.
“I don’t think we feel any pressure in here, that’s the main thing,” Holtby said. “Everyone’s pretty relaxed, everyone’s very confident and if we give it our best, prepare the way we know we have to, everything will work out for us. There’s no fear of losing in here.”
More on the Capitals:
— Beagle unlikely to play in Game 7
— Rangers morning skate updates
— Halpern gets right back in the mix
— Recipe for a playoffs pressure cooker
— Power play critical to Caps’ victories