Welcome to a playoff edition of our Penn Quarter Sports Tavern Friday six-pack, where we try to keep it real while answering your questions on the Capitals and their drive for the Stanley Cup. Let’s get started:
— Matt Mueller (@Mulerr) May 1, 2015
The fact that Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle skated on Friday should quell any kind of vindication the Rangers would have carried into Game 2 on Saturday at the Garden. Video replays can be interpreted a hundred different ways and while Nicklas Backstrom’s upper arm made contact with Boyle’s head, he did not appear to target Boyle’s head, nor did he launch himself into Boyle, two factors the NHL’s director of player safety considers when reviewing head shots. Backstrom was suspended during the Caps’ first-round series against the Bruins three years ago but he has an otherwise clean record. I think the Rangers were more upset that a penalty was not called than they thought there was an intent to injure, so any response from them in Game 2 should be minimal. Will they hit Backstrom, who led the Caps with five hits in Game 1, a little harder and a little more often? Probably. But the Rangers need to be very careful with their emotions. If Tanner Glass goes out there looking for revenge and puts the Capitals on the power play, New York will be down 2-0 in a series before they know what hit them.
@ChuckGormleyCSN 1. After his outstanding playoff reformances (thus far), is there way way Joel Ward can return next season (underthe salary
— Alec (@alecsam6) May 1, 2015
Yes, but it will cost the Capitals. When we last asked Caps general manager Brian MacLellan about renegotiating contracts with his potential unrestricted free agents he said their performances and how they fit into the club’s structure, both on the ice and financially, would determine their fate. I’m a big believer that the chemistry in a locker room matters and Ward is a glue guy. He is an immovable object in the crease and he may have found a permanent home on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom. At 34 is he worth more than his current $3 million? Probably not. But I think that is the salary range we’re talking and I think the Caps see the value in keeping him.
— rc (@hammertime1536) May 1, 2015
I agree and it starts with personnel. Brooks Orpik clearly has stepped up his level of nastiness in the post-season and paired with John Carlson on the PK they have done an excellent job of forcing both the Rangers and the Islanders to the perimeter while also clearing the porch in front of Braden Holtby and eliminating second chances. Tim Gleason has also been a grit and spit player on the blue line and the Caps have gotten some big defensive zone faceoff wins from Jay Beagle. That will need to continue against the Rangers, who struggled on the power play in the regular season [16.8 percent] and are even worse in the post-season [13.6 percent].
@ChuckGormleyCSN How do the Caps avoid being flat in Game 2 after weak daytime showings in Islanders series?
— MSF (@MSFerr1) May 1, 2015
Good question. The Caps went 4-5-1 in day games during the regular season and that trend continued against the Islanders as they lost Games 3 and 6. I don’t think Alex Ovechkin is a big fan of afternoon games and I know most players don’t like being taken out of their game-day routines, which often include pre-game naps. With all of that in mind I think it was a good decision by Barry Trotz to give his players the day off on Friday and his players agree. “It was a long series against the Islanders and a quick turnaround for us,” Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “I think a lot of us were kind of drained after the game last night, both mentally and physically, and this time of year you’re not getting a lot out of practice, really. It’s just about adjustments. You can watch video and make sure your bodies are healthy. I think it was a good move for us.” With desperation as their guide, the Rangers will be flying in Game 2 and if the Caps can’t get up for an afternoon playoff game in Madison Square Garden, shame on them.
— Kelly V. (@RecklessKelly77) May 1, 2015
I would love to see it, but I just don’t see it happening, unless the Caps have multiple injuries on their blue line. Tim Gleason handled himself pretty well in Game 1, delivering two hits and blocking one shot while being an even player in 15:00 of ice time. I can’t imagine Barry Trotz changing his personnel on the blue line unless someone gets injured and my gut tells me Nate Schmidt would be the Caps’ first option if there is an injury on the back end. Trotz would be hard-pressed to give Orlov his first NHL game action of the season in the playoffs, but if two defensemen go down I think Orov would be the Caps’ next option behind Schmidt.
@ChuckGormleyCSN What are they going to do with Peters this summer? Trade him? Buy him out?
— Grant Dressler (@GrantADressler) May 1, 2015
That’s a good question and I’m not sure the Caps even know the answer right now. Peters has one year and $950,000 remaining on his two-year deal with the Capitals. I don’t think many NHL teams would be interested in trading for him and I’m not sure buying him out is a great option, either. I think it’s imperative that Philipp Grubauer and Phoenix Copley continue to develop in Hershey and having Grubauer as a backup to Braden Holtby next season might slow his development. If I’m going under the assumption that Holtby will play between 65 and 70 games next season then I’m OK with Peters being his backup, because I think if Holtby was injured for any length of time Grubaer would be recalled as a starter anyway. For all he has been through this season Peters has been a consummate professional and that could go a long way in him returning to the Caps next season.