News, notes and quotes as the Caps arrive in New York in hopes of closing out their second-round playoff series against the New York Rangers Friday night at Madison Square Garden [6:30 pregame, CSN, 7:30 puck drop, NBCSN]:
Ready to close: Leading their series 3-1, the Caps are on the brink of going to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era but there is still plenty of respect for last year’s conference champions. Each of the Rangers’ five victories and four defeats in the post-season has been by one goal.
“We’re in a good position to move on, but the work is still out there and we still have a long way to go,” Caps defenseman John Carlson said. “This is a tough game against a tough team to try to close them out. I think we’ve seen a lot of resiliency this year and it’s time to go to work.”
Brooks Laich was equally respectful of the Rangers, who won the Presidents Trophy with the NHL’s best record this season.
“MSG is a tough place to play,” he said. “They play very well on home ice. They are a very good hockey team and the series has been very close. For us, we just want to keep moving forward. As player, all you want is your best effort and let the result lie where it is.”
Greasy Glease: Caps defenseman Tim Gleason got into his first playoff fight in Wednesday night’s 2-1 win in Game 4 when he dropped the gloves with Rangers irritant Tanner Glass. The fight came seconds after Gleason was rammed into the Capitals’ net by Rangers fourth-line winger James Sheppard.
“I’m OK with that,” Caps coach Barry Trotz said. “Everybody was scrumming around. Glass stayed out of the scrums and waited for a hockey fight and picked an opponent. That was a smart, veteran move.”
Trotz said Gleason has given the Caps everything they hoped to get when they traded Jack Hillen and a fourth-round pick to Carolina to acquire him on Feb. 28.
“He’s delivered,” he said.
Laich agreed, comparing Gleason to burly defenseman John Erskine.
“They are kind of quiet guys with a unique sense of humor,” he said. “He’s strong and solid on the back end. He’s an ultimate team guy. He’ll block a shot, step up and made a check, put his body on the line, fisticuffs. Tim is in to win.”
Gleason was not among he players who spoke to the media on Thursday but it’s a safe bet his face will show the battle scars from his fight with Glass, which left Gleason’s left eye cut and bloodied.
Penalty shot or penalty?: Trotz was asked Thursday if he’s rather see a player take a two-minute penalty or allow his goalie to face a penalty shot. In Game 4, Caps defenseman Mike Green pulled down Carl Hagelin, who was stopped by Braden Holtby on a game-deciding penalty shot.
“I’d probably take the penalty kill versus the penalty shot,” Trotz quipped. “But if you know you’re goaltender is going to save the penalty shot, I’ll take the penalty shot.”