PHILADELPHIA – Tonight in the City of Brotherly Shove, the Capitals will try to do something they’ve never done in their long playoff history: take a 3-0 series lead.
The Caps have been involved in 35 best-of-seven series and are 0-7 whenever they’ve had the opportunity to go up 3-0 in a series. In fact, the Capitals have lost five of the seven playoff series in which they’ve owned a 2-0 series lead (best-of-seven).
“It’s history for a reason,” Capitals veteran left wing Jason Chimera said Monday following the Caps’ morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, where they’ll face the Philadelphia Flyers in game 3 (6 p.m Pregame Live, CSN). “That’s what they say, it’s past history. We’re trying to make our own history.
“Different teams, different years. The past is in the past and you can’t do nothing about it. We can do something about what we’ve got now and that’s what we’re concentrating on.”
Many believe tonight’s game might be the Capitals’ most difficult challenge of their first-round series, simply because the emotion in the building could be off the charts. One week after the passing of legendary owner Ed Snider, the Flyers will pay tribute to their founder with a two-minute pregame video, followed by Lauren Hart’s singing of God Bless America.
“I think the players are well aware of what happened and what Mr. Snider meant to the Flyers organization, what he meant to the community, what he meant to the growth of hockey south of the (Canadian) border,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, noting that two of his players, Justin Williams and Mike Richards, played for the Flyers under Snider.
Williams said he remembered Snider calling him on the phone after he was traded from Philadelphia to Carolina in 2004.
“To call me on the phone and wish me luck, there are just little things like that – it makes owners more a part of the team,” Williams said. “He was an amazing figure. It seemed like he was there with us even when we were on the ice. A great owner and I was glad to be part of his life for a little bit.”
Capitals right win T.J. Oshie said he hopes the Capitals can take the crowd out of the game early, “which is probably not going to happen.”
Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen said the Capitals’ veteran leadership has done a good job of using emotion this season without being controlled by it and he hopes for the same tonight.
“I don’t think we worry about it at all,” he said. “We worry about ourselves, get ourselves ready to play and be ready for a competitive game. They play well here. They feed off the crowd. It’s a fun building to play in, but as always we’re going to have to be at our competitive best to get a win and we’ll try to do that tonight.”
If they do, the Capitals will have accomplished something they’ve never managed to do in their entire playoff history. And for what it’s worth, something their coach has never done in his playoff history behind the bench.
Why, Trotz was asked Monday, is it so difficult to take a 3-0 choke hold in a playoff series?
“Urgency, desperation,” he said. “You can’t create that. You try, but you can’t. When your backs are against the wall, you know that in any situation in life, you become very resilient and strong and determined and collectively that sense can be very powerful. We’ve got to make sure we know we’re bringing our best game and if we do that I like our chances.”
“We want to steal a game here,” he said. “We’re going to go after it tonight. It gets harder as the series goes on to get wins. The team that’s down gets more and more desperate, so we’re going to have to be better than we were in Game 1 and Game 2.”