(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)


Players across the NHL know that no matter what they do in the regular season, reputations can be built and demolished based of play in the postseason.

Succeed in the Stanley Cup playoffs, particularly by proving you can provide consistent offensive production, and it’s not unusual to be rewarded with a particularly lucrative contract.  Vanish and struggle to be a difference maker, though, and the opposite holds true.

Coach Adam Oates understands why players want to be judged on the postseason and believes they should relish the opportunity.

“I think it’s very important and I think a player should want to be here,” Oates said. “Verizon Center will be rocking Thursday night and Madison Square Garden rocks, and if you don’t want to be in that environment then shame on you. Playoffs is a fantastic environment.”

For Capitals center Mike Ribeiro, this spring marks his first trip to the postseason since 2007-08. Despite plenty of regular season success, Ribeiro hasn’t been reliable offensively in the playoffs, recording 5 goals and 20 assists in 42 career postseason games.

The veteran center is eager to get back to the postseason, though.

“It’s just going to be exciting. It’s been a few years,” said Ribeiro, who last appeared in a playoff game on May 19, 2008. “The first time you don’t make the playoffs, you’re kind of happy. You have a longer summer. But like four times in a row now, four times, four summers, it’s long. You’re out for like seven months; it’s pretty long. And obviously this year was even longer for me, from April to all the way now. I’m just anxious to go and play and bring some emotions up.”

In 48 regular season games, Ribeiro recorded 13 goals and 49 points games and his offensive output helped keep the Capitals afloat in the first half of the season to the point that it was easy to ignore his penchant for arguing with referees and receiving unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. But in the final 17 games, Ribeiro finished with 3 goals and 12 assists.

Ribeiro is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5 and said previously he wants a four- or five-year term for his next contract. He turned down an offer from the Capitals for a three-year, $14 million deal prior to the trade deadline.

While his postseason success could weigh on his ability to land the contract he’s seeking, Ribeiro said he isn’t concerned about that right now.

“This is not the time for me to think about it. For myself, it’s just to play games and play well,” Ribeiro said. “I’ve always thought that if I play well defensively, I’m always going to have points. It’s just a matter of how you play well in your own zone and how you play your game positioning-wise. But point-wise, I’m never worried. I’m always going to have points; it’s just a matter of how I play or how I show up and how I play well defensively. I think that helps me.”