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GDT: Canes @ Caps, Game 7, 4/24, 7:30 pm Eastern

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
OK folks ... it's Game 7 in DC between the Caps and the Canes, and after last night's fireworks in San Jose, expect ANYTHING.

I never know how far to go with these things by the last game of a series. It's not like everybody doesn't already know everything about the other team. I don't think either team is planning a formal morning skate, either. So coach press availability will probably be to only clue of line changes and the like. I don't expect much from the Caps though. First off, Reirden hasn't stuck with many of the changes he's made thus far anyway. Secondly, I suspect the Caps are more concerned with getting final change and getting their preferred matchups than they are with personnel. For Carolina the question is health. Svech could be back, or not. Ferland was a gamete decision for Game 6, but I suspect that he's really a coach's decision at this point. Martinook played on one leg in Game 6, and probably will again. Carolina's lines will shift depending on availability. They did send Bishop back to Charlotte, so I do expect Martinook, at a minimum, to play. Svech will probably go if, and only if, he's 100%. I think everybody in the hockey world knows full well that the sum of his career is worth a heck of a lot more than one game. Still ... we'll see.

So ... tactics. I think Carolina's keys are fairly simple. Carve out possession and extend offensive zone shifts whenever possible. That's where this series has turned for them, almost entirely. They'd also love to be opportunistic on special teams, but honestly possession is a bigger deal. Washington is too good for you to eliminate long shifts in your own zone stuck on defense. And you HAVE to be sharp in that zone. But the only way Carolina gets offense, physicality and confidence is on the other end of the ice. For the Caps, they want to slow this thing down and make it about special teams, so defensive discipline is a big factor for Carolina as well. I suspect that a lot of the Caps thinking going is to get in the zone, get on the body and get in Mrazek's grill. For a skilled team, they've played this series a lot more like the bad boy Flyers than the Gretzky Oilers. I'm not at all sure why, because I honestly think they've been better in this series when they've knocked off the cartoon violence and just played hockey, but whatever. There's one simple way to beat that kind of caveman aggression ... frustrate it by starving it of the puck.

As usual, the cliche is based in truth. Anything CAN happen in a Game 7. Poise and determination sometimes outshine all other factors. Go and sieze the moment and the moment will be yours.
 

CarolinaPen

Active member
Even though a don't think he should play in this game, would there be anything more satisfying or just than Svech scoring the game winner?
 

cmon3

Active member
Even though a don't think he should play in this game, would there be anything more satisfying or just than Svech scoring the game winner?
If he's cleared then he's cleared. Not sure how you'd tell the kid, the docs say you're OK and you have no symptoms and you want to play and feel good, but no. I'm sure they have better info on how he's been feeling and reacting to things than we do, so I expect they'll make the right call on that. I don't think they'd rush him back if they didn't think he was 100%
 

ThinIce

Active member
I'm already so proud of this team - win or lose - but of course, now that it's Game 7, it's another opportunity to make a statement of "relevance" to the hockey world. Ovechkin will be looking to hit anything that moves, so we have to play smart, avoid needless retaliations, and bottle him up as much as possible. Home ice has been a huge factor in this series, but the Canes have defied the status quo before - so let's do it once more. Play hard and have fun. Go Canes!
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
As far as Ovechkin and Wilson go, I'm perfectly happy with the guys doing what they did in the last game and giving them old bullfighter move. Normally you don't want to see that, but I honestly think those two get so very pissed off and out of their games when they repeatedly swing big and miss on hits that I don't really care what it looks like. Plus, Wilson flat out injured himself in Game 6. If they come in wild and out of control, discretion is the better part of valor.

Svech ... yeah. If he's 100% then I think he's going. Plop him on the 3rd line with at least one line mate to cover his butt and go play the game.
 

bagopux

Active member
The Caps' best defense is a good offense, because their defense is not very good. Make their D play the puck in their own zone under pressure. Wilson too. He was a turnover machine in Game 6 when he lacked time & space.
 

dwind

Active member
I’m mixed about playing Svechnikov. Will he add or subtract? Will he play hockey or go after Ovi?
If he is in the caps will go head hunting. Every time they get a chance they’ll give him a forearm shiv, elbow, butt end, etc. To either hurt or at least get him off his game. In addition they’ll hope the canes retaliate and draw a penalty. Remember, the refs aren’t calling jack in the initial pop but do call retaliations. My vote is to sit him.
 

cmon3

Active member
I’m mixed about playing Svechnikov. Will he add or subtract? Will he play hockey or go after Ovi?
If he is in the caps will go head hunting. Every time they get a chance they’ll give him a forearm shiv, elbow, butt end, etc. To either hurt or at least get him off his game. In addition they’ll hope the canes retaliate and draw a penalty. Remember, the refs aren’t calling jack in the initial pop but do call retaliations. My vote is to sit him.
Good points, but by that logic would you have sat him if he hadn't gotten knocked out by Ovi? Or are you sitting him because you think he's still hurt/not fully recovered?
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
The Caps' best defense is a good offense, because their defense is not very good. Make their D play the puck in their own zone under pressure. Wilson too. He was a turnover machine in Game 6 when he lacked time & space.
The Caps are a weird hybrid. They defend well as a team, and all of their forward lines are responsible in their own zone ... even the first line. However, as good as their forwards are in the defensive zone, their defensemen aren't really all that good. They all pass the puck relatively well and Carlson got absolutely robbed by being left off of the Norris list, but collectively ... meh. As I said before Game 6, they can be had if you can be patient and chip pucks deep and into the corners. That forces their D to skate, retrieve and make plays and that's where you can apply your pressure. Once you get them out of shape, the seams open up and Holtby isn't nearly as good when he's got to make quick adjustments. He's a solid keeper, but he's not the quickest guy. You've generally got to get the puck moving to beat him and to do that you've got the get the forecheck going in the corners. The Canes have done it for stretches on the road and for huge chunks of time at home. They really just need to stick to their own knitting and concentrate on their own game. Washington is going to score ... at home, they always do. But they CAN be exploited although it takes a ton of hard work and discipline to do it. That's the challenge tonight. Focus, discipline and tenacity in the offensive zone.
 

dwind

Active member
Good points, but by that logic would you have sat him if he hadn't gotten knocked out by Ovi? Or are you sitting him because you think he's still hurt/not fully recovered?
Combination. When are you fully recovered from a concussion? I don’t think Shane Wills has recovered fully yet. The last time I asked him, a couple years ago, he was still having headaches. In the olden days we never targeted a head or injured area. We just targeted people in general. We did have respect for players. Today they know a person is injured and where they are injured they purposefully go after it. The canes would have to protect him and that could take them off their game, playing a more defensive type game when he’s on the ice rather than going balls to the wall which they need to do in order to win. If it were regular season I’d have no problem putting him back in.
 

TheBigKahuna

Active member
If the Caps would turn off the goonery, and play hard nosed offense, this series would be over.

I want nothing more than a Canes win. For a multitude of reasons. But so far road teams haven't performed very well.
 
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jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
If the Caps would turn off the goonery, and play hard nosed offense, this series would be over.

I want nothing more than a Canes win. Fir a multitude of reasons.
Yeah, you're not wrong. I honestly think the disparity in pure firepower in this series is sufficient to have carried Washington through eventually. They decided to goon it up instead and have made this harder on themselves than it needed to be.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
And if they lose tonight, Kevin Malone will be looking for a new Office.
Honestly, unless they think he's actually learning something from this debacle, I think they've got little to gain by keeping him. Getting badly out-coached by another rookie coach is NOT a good look.
 

cmon3

Active member
If the Caps would keep on their discipline there wouldn't be many ways for us to beat them in their barn. As it is, when they go out of their way to be physical, it either works - because their opponents get tentative, or hurt, or lose their composure and start trying to get into a hitfest with them, or it opens up opportunities to exploit openings they create with their aggressive play.
 

bagopux

Active member
I’m mixed about playing Svechnikov. Will he add or subtract? Will he play hockey or go after Ovi?
If he is in the caps will go head hunting. Every time they get a chance they’ll give him a forearm shiv, elbow, butt end, etc. To either hurt or at least get him off his game. In addition they’ll hope the canes retaliate and draw a penalty. Remember, the refs aren’t calling jack in the initial pop but do call retaliations. My vote is to sit him.
If Martinook tells him to leave Ovi alone, he will. Quite frankly, considering how it turned out last time, if he goes back for more he's not thinking straight. I'd be waaaaay more concerned about the Caps going after him. Honestly, I don't think many of them would -- they all know guys who have had concussions -- except for Ovi or Wilson, who has little in the way of conscience. But, look what happened to Pavelski last night. It was a penalty by the book, but not a dirty play. Anything can happen. I'd rather he not play. I'm not a doctor, but I'm guessing there's a gray area between medically cleared and fully recovered. And it may be a very large area, and not very gray.
 

JamesNorthern

Active member
If the Caps would keep on their discipline there wouldn't be many ways for us to beat them in their barn. As it is, when they go out of their way to be physical, it either works - because their opponents get tentative, or hurt, or lose their composure and start trying to get into a hitfest with them, or it opens up opportunities to exploit openings they create with their aggressive play.
I'm probably in the minority, but that's why I hope Svech plays. Get the Caps thinking anything but actually playing hockey, which is to their detriment. They don't seem to make any difference between physical play and physical goonery, again to their detriment. They think they're in our heads (chicken motion directed at Hamilton) but the jokes on them. Keep em focused on being brutes while we keep up the forecheck and tenacity. Playing Svech gives em something else to distract from scoring goals.
Honestly, the Canes should not roll over when the Caps come out hard on the first few shifts, in fact, I would love to see Brindy match that expected start with our grunt and shutdown guys until the tide passes and we've been able to establish our game. An early one would be good of course, but we shouldn't go for that let alone count on one. Just expect and play things into OUR game, and keep the Caps on theirs, which this playoffs is evidently play dirty, hit hard, hit high - first, hockey second. That's fine.
 

jeffbear

Mod Squad
Staff member
Oh, I do think that if Svech plays he gives Carolina two potential advantages ... first and most obvious, he's one of only a handful of guys on the Canes who has a good enough shot to score from anywhere in the offensive zone. We've got a lot of offensive balance, but not a ton of heavy shots. Svech, Aho, Hamilton ... maybe Faulk when he's stumbled upon his accuracy pills. That's about it. If Carolina plays well, this thing is gonna be squeaky tight and one big shot could make a huge difference. Secondly, the seeing red factor. I have no idea why on earth Ovechkin made such a big deal out of that fight, but after his post game bullshirt session pretty much only myopic Caps fans think he came out of it as anything other than a jerk who feels threatened by a young player's game. And he knows it. So, if and when he sees Svech on the ice, he's going to lose his marbles. Carolina is clearly going to protect the kid, but there's something to be said for making the NHL's best pure goal scorer get all absorbed in something other than ... you know ... scoring goals.

For my money, Backstrom is the key. Aho's going to draw him all night and with as much pressure as that young man is under to produce offense, he's GOT to be thinking defense first. I don't care what Aho does in the offensive zone tonight, but if he keeps Backstrom off of the scoresheet then we've got a shot at this thing.
 
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