News, notes and everything else you need for tonight’s win-or-go-home Game 7 between the Capitals and Islanders at VerizonCenter. Catch the hour-long pregame show beginning at 6:30 on CSN:
Matchup heaven: If there is one tactical advantage to having a Game 7 on home ice, it’s the home coach’s ability to have the last line change. In other words, if the Islanders line up for a faceoff with their third defense pairing of Matt Donovan [one career playoff game] and Scott Mayfield [one career playoff game] you can bet you’ll see the Caps’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Joel Ward.
“We’ll see,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz. “For the most part it’s been a lot of head-to-head stuff -- top players against top players.”
In the Islanders’ 3-1 win in Game 6 on Saturday, Isles head coach Jack Capuano did a nice job of getting Nick Leddy [28:59] and Johnny Boychuk [27:00] out against Ovechkin [19:21] and Backstrom [21:30], limiting them to a combined four shots.
In his last three Game 7s, Ovechkin has no points, while Backstrom has no points in his last five Game 7s.
Caps promise more grit: Curtis Glencross will return for the Caps after three games as a healthy scratch. It will be the first Game 7 of his nine-year career.
“The veteran that he is, the good pro that he is, he can be a difference maker for us,” Trotz said. “He’s a guy that’s scored big goals. He can play a gritty game and can score some goals. I expect him to be a good player for us tonight. I just thought his game fell off. He saw it and he knew it.”
Glencross will play on a fourth line with Brooks Laich and Tom Wilson and Trotz said he’ll try to utilize Wilson more than he did in Game 6 when the rambunctious 21-year-old right wing saw just seven shifts and 3:41 of ice time. The Caps were outhit 46-32 in Game 6.
Words, words, words: Several players said they know everything they need to know about the Islanders and Trotz said there is nothing more he can tell them that they don’t already know.
“I guarantee you the New York Islanders are sick of talking about the Washington Capitals and the Washington Capitals are tired of talking about the New York Islanders,” Trotz said. “It’s time.”
Trotz said the team that can stick with its game plan the longest will prevail. As for pre-game motivational speeches, Trotz said he’ll keep that to himself.
“He’s said all he can say,” Chimera said of Trotz. “We’ve got to go out and prove it and do it. You don’t want to let your buddy down in these moments, just leave it out there.”
Who is louder? In Stanley Cup playoff history, home teams are 91-65 in Game 7s but in 2014 home teams went 1-6 in Game 7s.
The team that scores first is 115-41 all-time in Game 7s, including a 4-3 mark in 2014. Thirty-nine Game 7s have required overtime [25 percent]. Road teams have gone 20-19.
“I’d rather play at home,” Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “That’s a tough building [Nassau Coliseum] to play in on the road. They seem to get a little more energy playing in front of their crowd. I thought we built off the energy of our crowd in Game 5. We’ve been good at home. We got home ice for a reason and we want to take advantage now.”
Look ahead: The Rangers will face either the Capitals or Islanders in Game 1 of their second-round series in New York. In all likelihood the series will open on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, with Game 2 either Saturday or Sunday in New York.