There’s no doubting that there were breakdowns for the Capitals in Game 1. The bigger focus for the players after Sunday’s practice, though, was that they failed to raise their intensity level for the start of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Rangers.
“They definitely amped up their level and we were kind of stuck in that first-round intensity, we didn’t really ramp it up,” Jay Beagle said. “I think it’s just a mental thing. After the game we all were sitting here and we knew it. We were like, ‘That’s not going to cut it, that’s not good enough.’ I think we’ll come back tomorrow with hopefully our best game of the playoffs and show how we can play.”
That sputtering level of energy the Capitals felt on the ice was visible to those watching as well – including Capitals owner Ted Leonsis.
“I also thought we looked just a little flat mentally and emotionally,” Leonsis wrote on his blog. “It was almost like we had survived such a tough series against Boston. We had decompressed in a few off days and now we were trying to amp back up.”
Everyone – players, coaches, reporters and analysts – talks about how intensity kicks up another notch in the playoffs. Well, it isn’t limited to the first round; each subsequent series as teams near their ultimate goal of the Stanley Cup should bring an additional level of drive and energy.
While Washington played well in the first round and won the tightest series in NHL history to knock off the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins, all it gets them is a spot in the second round. They have to keep churning forward.
“We just got to remind ourselves that the game’s not going to be easy. Just because we got past the first round and the Boston Bruins, it’s not going to be easy,” Karl Alzner said. “The games that we played, we had to work extremely hard to have success at that and we didn’t work as hard as we did last series.”
Joel Ward echoed that sentiment and said that the Capitals need to refocus and reload in the face of another, arguably tougher, opponent.
“I don’t know what to pinpoint, exactly what happened, but I think our desperation level wasn’t as strong as it used to be,” Ward said. “I don’t know whether we kind of collectively as a team thought that it was just going to be the same old, same series. But against a different team, it’s a bigger monster – they finished first and that was for a reason.”
More on the Capitals:
— Holtby’s Game 1 peformance puts Caps in bad spot
— Graphic: Track every Caps shot in the postseason
— Hunter on Semin: ‘You have to be smart on the ice’
— Game 1: Caps surrender upper hand to Rangers, 3-1
— The mistakes that led to Kreider’s goal in Game 1
— Jenkins: Game 1 turns quickly for Washington
— Chris Kreider is the toast of New York