The Caps face a new set of challenges on the road tonight at the Mellon Arena. The crowd will be loud and in a frenzy to support their Penguins. They are facing a desperate Penguins team that doesn’t want to be down 3-0. They must also face their past. The Penguins have comeback from two games down to the Caps, and twice won the series in previous playoff meetings. Although they happened 15 years ago, Pens Coach Dan Bylsma will use this to help motivate and assure his team.
The Caps must start the game fast. They cannot afford to let the Penguins get the early lead like they did in games 1 & 2. The earlier they can score the better. If they cannot score and get the early lead, they need to keep the Pens from scoring. The longer the Pens don’t score, the more desperate they will become. This should lead to some chances for an odd man rush or two.
The Caps have to play smart physical hockey. Early in game 2 they looked passive and were pushed around. They don’t need to go hit for hit with the Penguins but they cannot allow themselves to be pushed around either. They cannot get any dumb penalties also. Every coach will tell you the man who retaliates always gets caught.
They need to get a body on Sidney Crosby. All of his goals are from within 5 feet of the net. He has excelled at hanging around the net and being in the right place at the right time. He is a superstar and you cannot completely stop him. If they can move him a little further from the goal it will give goaltender Simeon Varlamov a little breathing room.
The Caps will need their Superstar and Superstar in the making to stay hot. The Caps have gotten great play from Alexander Ovechkin. He has led the team with his play on the ice and as a cheerleader from the bench. He has certainly shown why he is a Hart Trophy nominee. They will also need Varlamov to stay hot. He has stopped 67 shots so far in this series. He has been fantastic in the net and has bailed the defense out on several occasions. He hasn’t given up any easy goals and has limited the Pens’ second chance shots. They both will need to get some help tonight. They need to have a few other scorers besides Alexander the Great.
In order for the Caps to go up 3-0 over the Penguins in Pittsburgh tonight, someone unexpected will need to step up. Everybody has to stay within their role. When an opportunity presents itself, a new hero will need to CAPitalize on it. Dave Steckel was the Caps other scorer on Monday. Who will it be tonight? I don’t know but I cannot wait to see who it is!