The playoffs are just over a week away and posturing is already beginning for the Eastern Conference leading Washington Capitals.
“If we want to win anything, we have to go through Pittsburgh, ” Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau said today during the Capitals pre-game skate.
With the Presidents trophy wrapped up, Boudreau is downplaying the importance of tonight’s game, indicating that tonight’s game has no bearing on a potential playoff matchup between the Penguins and Capitals.
“Quite frankly, the game doesn’t really mean a lot to us, Boudreau said. “If we’ve got guys who are tired and banged up, let’s rest them. Today’s game is more important to them because they want to finish second.”
The Capitals will rest top defenseman Mike Green and backup goaltender Semyon Varlamov will start in goal.
Meanwhile, in the Penguins locker room, Sidney Crosby talked about how the playoffs are a different season when questions about being 0-6 against New Jersey and 0-3 against Washington came about.
Despite rolling through the Eastern Conference, questions remain whether the Capitals are built to win in the playoffs.
The critical comments from Columbus Blue Jackets winger R.J. Umberger over the weekend about the Capitals playing the wrong way has resonated throughout the NHL and into the Capitals locker room.
“I don’t think any team in the West would be over matched by them,” Umberger told the Columbus-Dispatch. “They play the wrong way….They want to be moving all the time….
They float in their zone looking for breakaways and odd-man rushes. A good defensive team is going to beat them (in the playoffs). If you eliminate your turnovers and keep them off the power play, they’re going to get frustrated because they’re in their zone a lot.”
Head coach Bruce Boudreau took offense to Umberger’s comments as did owner Ted Leonis.
Leonis released a statement on his blog this week stating, “I think this player should be talking to his ownership and coaching staff about their rebuild plan to compete for a Stanley Cup NOT to our fan base and players about ours, ” Leonis said.
“And then I think this player should stand up and communicate to his team’s fan base about their plan to compete for a Cup and how they will qualify for the playoffs year after year. And then back it up. It is a simple formula: Outline a plan – communicate it – back it up.”