The Washington Capitals might’ve come into the NHL playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s number seven seed but they have hit their stride and riding a wave of momentum. After pulling the upset in the first round against the number two seeded Bruins, the Caps have set their sights on the number one seeded Rangers in the East. Behind Alex Ovechkin’s late goal in the third period, the Capitals were able to take one of the two games in New York against the Rangers and now the series will shift back to the nation’s capitol with a pivotal game three tonight.
Matt Hendricks joined ESPN 980 in Washington D.C. with the Sports Reporters to talk about the game two win, on the lack of ice time that Alex Ovechkin has been getting, if Ovechkin’s lack of ice time is because Coach Hunter wants to match-up better with the Rangers and what he feels his role is with the Capitals.
On the game two win:
“It was a great game. It was great to see Ovy get that one on the power play too. It was a crucial time in the game, we thought we had them on the ropes with a couple of penalties they took and Ovy was able to capitalize off a great face off by Nick Backstrom.”
On the lack of ice time that Alex Ovechkin has been getting:
“The way it’s going right now in the playoffs we’re winning games and Ovy is a team guy first and foremost. Second, he’s a competitor. He wants to play and he wants to contribute to the team but the way it’s going right now he is happy as long as we keep winning games.”
If Ovechkin’s lack of ice time is due to the coach wanting to match-up better with the Rangers:
“Without a doubt, without a doubt. Coach Hunter is very big on matching lines and line combinations and last night we’re up by a goal and he wants to defend, he wants to put guys out there that he thinks are going to be able to check top line guys so when he has those matchups out there Ovy is going to get his ice time. When they’re playing their checkers and when they’re down goals they’re not going to be playing their checkers and Ovy is not going to get the shifts but when we’re down a goal he’s going to be out there every second shift that is for sure.”
What he feels his role is with the Caps:
“I’m looked at as a shut down guy but for the most part I’m trying to bring energy, I’m trying to be physical, I’m trying to wear down anybody I can get on the ice with, especially their defensemen. If I can wear them down throughout the course of the game and throughout the course of the series I think our skill guys are going to get more opportunities. To be perfectly honest with you I want those guys to really dislike me and not like to play against me. To say ‘I don’t like playing against him and yadda, yadda, yadda.’ I don’t want to be liked after the game is over.”