If Tuesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex is any indication, there will not be any drastic changes to the Capitals lineup for Wednesday night’s Game 7 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Despite Monday’s recall of defenseman Nate Schmidt from the Hershey bears, Tim Gleason slated on a third defense pairing with Mike Green, while Schmidt took turns on a fourth pairing with Dmitry Orlov.
As for the forward lines, nothing changed from the end of Game 6, when a new combination of center Evgeny Kuznetsov played between left wing Jason Chimera and Joel Ward and the trio combined for three goals.
Eric Fehr, sidelined since April 19 with an upper body injury, skated as an extra foreward, along with center Michael Latta.
Here’s how the Caps looked at practice:
Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Joel Ward
Andre Burakovsky-Jay Beagle-Troy Brouwer
Curtis Glencross-Brooks Laich-Tom Wilson
Extras: Michael Latta, Eric Fehr [upper body]
Brooks Orpik-John Carlson
Karl Alzner-Matt Niskanen
Tim Gleason-Mike Green
Extras: Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt
Braden Holtby-Justin Peters
Tampa loses Callahan: The Tampa Bay Lightning, a possible third-round opponent for the Capitals, reportedly have lost forward Ryan Callahan to an emergency appendectomy. Callahan went head-to-head against Ovechkin in each of the Caps’ previous two playoff series against the Rangers in 2012 and 2013.
History supports Rangers: The Rangers are 9-0 in their last nine home elimination games dating back to 2008. They are 13-3 in 16 elimination games since the start of the 2012 playoffs and they are 6-0 all-time in Game 7s at the Garden.
Remembering Messier’s guarantee: Much has been made about Ovechkin’s post-game comment on Sunday night, when he said, “We’re going to come back and win the series.”
Messier’s exact quote prior to Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils was very similar:
“We’re going to go in and win Game 6,” Messier said.
Of course, Messier backed up those words by recording a hat trick in a 4-2 victory at the Meadowlands, securing a Game 7 the Rangers won in double overtime.
Last year, Messier told the New York Daily News that he was simply saying what he thought his teammates needed to hear.
“My intention was purely focused on the 20 players and our team,” Messier told the Daily News. “At the time, I was so focused on figuring out a message that I failed to realize that every other New Yorker out there and every New Jersey Devil would be reading it in all the papers the next day.”