The mood at the Capitals’ morning skate Monday at Madison Square Garden ahead of Game 3 was noticeably relaxed. Players whooped it up on the ice, joking and teasing each other as they worked through drills and line rushes.
While Washington’s upbeat confidence with a 2-0 lead in this series isn’t surprising, goaltender Braden Holtby wants to make sure the team doesn’t lose its focus.
“It’s good to a point. I’m not sure we want it as loose as this morning,” Holtby said. “It’s still playoff time and you never want to get comfortable. When you’re starting to get loose, you can tell guys are starting to get comfortable and whatnot.”
Multiple times this season Holtby, 23, has offered his assessment of the Capitals’ overall demeanor, and the starting netminder is rarely off the mark.
Prior to Washington’s game at Pittsburgh on March 19, the loss that Coach Adam Oates and many players say marked the start of their turnaround, Holtby criticized the team’s lack of intensity. After back-to-back wins on that same trip, Holtby remarked about how the team’s approach changed and became more dialed in. He wants to see that poise again.
“We’re going to make sure in pregame meeting that everyone is focusing in, making sure that we’re doing the right things to prepare, as if we’re down 0-2,” Holtby said. “Just because we’re up, it doesn’t make it any easier on us.”