PHILADELPHIA -- It is one of the most often-used clichés this time of year and we heard it again from the Capitals, who lead their first-round series three games to none with a chance to finish off the Flyers tonight at the Wells Fargo Center (6 p.m. Pregame Live, CSN).
“It’s the hardest one to win every series,” Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said. “They’re not going to roll over. They want to win one game and take one game at a time. So are we.”
“I think in a game like this, when it’s do or die for a team, it’s just playing smart and playing hard because you know they’ll be throwing everything at you,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said, unaware of the irony within his words. “It’s the biggest test and the hardest one to win.”
The Caps and their fans know this all too well. During the 11-year Alex Ovechkin era, the Caps are 4-13 when they’ve had a chance to close out a team in a playoff series. They are also 0-4 in their last four tries to clinch a series on the road (since the 2013 playoffs).
In fact, this is the first time in their playoff history the Caps can pull off a sweep.
“We’d never been up 3-0 in a series, too, so it doesn’t mean anything,” Chimera said. “We know what’s in front of us and we want to go get it. You want to put the hammer down when you can.”
Mike Weber, a hardened, stay-at-home defenseman who could replace Brooks Orpik on the Caps’ third defense pairing tonight, was more direct with his wording. His last playoff appearance came back on April 26, 2011 when the Buffalo Sabres lost to the Flyers in Game 7 of their first-round series. That Flyers won that game 5-2 in Philadelphia.
“They are relentless, especially in this building, and they have a never-die mentality,” Weber said. “That’s why, when you have a chance to close out a team in the playoffs, you need to step on their throat and end it. You can’t give them any breath, any life.
“That’s kind of the mindset that’s been around this room. We’re really looking forward to the opportunity we have.”
Picked up at the trade deadline for his experience and toughness, Weber said it was difficult watching from the press box on Monday night and seeing teammate Dmitry Orlov get run from behind into the boards by Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who was suspended one game for the hit.
“It’s frustrating when you’re not out there when things get crazy,” Weber said. “Obviously, we beat them up pretty good (6-1) last game, but the best way (to respond) is to send them home for a long summer. That’s the mindset.”
MORE CAPITALS: Bellemare suspended one game for Orlov hit