Not surprisingly, Barry Trotz was not all that thrilled with how Thursday’s Game 1 started.
Less than 10 minutes into the game, the Caps founds themselves down 2-0 at home to a plucky Toronto Maple Leafs team. Justin Williams got Washington on the board, but Toronto came out swinging again in the second period and was outshooting the Caps 10-3.
“The first 30 minutes, I’m not happy with our game,” Trotz said.
“They came at us hard, they came out with a good gameplan,” Trotz continued. “They got on our D, we turned some pucks over, we game them real easy access to the puck I thought today in the first 30 minutes.”
But, just when visions of past playoff failures began to dance in the heads of Caps fans everywhere, Washington was able to escape with the overtime win to take Game 1.
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In what was widely expected to be the most lopsided series of the first round, Toronto showed at least in Game 1 that they can go toe-to-toe with the Presidents’ Trophy winners. If you’re the Caps, the last thing you want to do is to give the young, inexperienced Maple Leafs confidence that they can make this a series.
And yet, Trotz is glad Game 1 started the way it did.
“It's a real good wakeup call for us,” Trotz said. “You get in the playoffs there is no easy games. The Leafs are well prepared, they're a good hockey team. Their kids are exceptional talents and they can play and you've got to play them hard. I know we're getting another level so I think it's great that we didn't have the start that we had and we're able to come out on the positive end. We can build on that I think.”
Granted, the Caps won so it is easier for Trotz to see the positives of the poor start. Had they lost, it may be a different story. But the point remains, there’s a lesson to be learned from how Game 1 started. Washington may be the best team, but there won’t be any easy games in the playoffs.