They blew a two-goal lead for the fourth time in seven games to ruin an otherwise solid performance in a Game 1 loss to the back-to-back Stanley Cup-champion Penguins. That Pittsburgh stormed back to win 3-2 seemed to suggest this would be yet another chapter in the long Leon Draisaitl Jersey
, miserable history for the Capitals against their nemesis; the Penguins have won nine of 10 postseason meetings between the two teams.
But with fresh memories of digging out of a 2-0 series hole against Columbus in the first round, Washington doesn’t sound like a team thinking, ”Here we go again.”
Players were quick to say they played a well and almost glossed over that ugly span of 4:49.
”We played a pretty good game,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ”They scored on (Sidney) Crosby’s three shifts in a row in the third period to win the game. Otherwise we played pretty good, so I don’t think you need to overanalyze that.”
Overanalyzing is exactly what will happen given the Capitals’ recent and franchise-long playoff history. But maybe the Capitals are better off focusing on the positives, and coach Barry Trotz expects things to click back into place for Game 2 on Sunday.
”It was a little bit of a kick in the stomach,” Trotz said Friday. ”We had a couple kicks in the stomach in the first round with Columbus and you saw the response that we had. I know our group, I know the strength of our group, I know the resiliency. This group will battle back.”
It’s not so easy to guarantee the Capitals will go shift-for-shift with the Penguins like they did most of Game 1, especially with the potential return of Pittsburgh star Evgeni Malkin. Washington did get as many quality scoring chances, if not more, than Pittsburgh, but those third-period goals by the top line of Patric Hornqvist , Crosby and Jake Guentzel tipped the balance.
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, Trotz wants the Capitals to play with the lead the same way they do to get it: Move the puck quickly, make good decisions, defend hard and maintain solid positioning. Those things didn’t happen on the three shifts against Crosby and Co., including mistakes like Dmitry Orlov not tying up Hornqvist’s stick, Alex Ovechkin tipping the puck right to Crosby, and Braden Holtby giving the puck away behind his own net.
”One mistake, one bad bounce and they’re back in the game,” Ovechkin said. ”It hit my stick and goes right to Crosby’s stick. Move forward.”
Moving forward for the Capitals means cleaning up the little plays that can make a big difference this time of year. Trotz acknowledged the Penguins’ comeback ”happened very quickly,” and it was enough to overshadow two competitive periods where his team arguably out-chanced and out-played its opponent.
”That’s the tough part of this game is that those inches and those swings of momentum are so huge and you try to get them back,” Trotz said. ”You have some control of it, and you just want to make sure that you execute at the highest level.”
There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.
After serving for five seasons as the team’s linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.
Enthusiastic doesn’t even begin to describe Martindale’s attitude about being in charge of the defense.
”Ever since we’ve made this transition, it’s been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it Authentic Oliver Bjorkstrand Jersey
,” Martindale said after Wednesday’s mandatory minicamp practice.
This isn’t the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.
Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.
”He’s just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast,” Weddle said. ”The idea is to do what’s best for the defense, not what’s best the individual.”
Martindale called Mosley ”the quarterback” of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.
”The way we’re able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it’s more creative, I would say, than where we were last year,” Mosley said.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.
”All we’re doing is forwarding John’s plan http://www.officialcanadiensprostore.com/authentic-adidas-karl-alzner-jersey
,” Martindale said. ”We’re remodeling the package. It’s still Ravens football, it’s still Ravens defense, but we’ve streamlined it. It’s the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast.”
Asked for his take on Martindale’s defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, ”They’re fast and they’re furious.”
Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale’s boss likes what he sees.
”We’re doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good,” Harbaugh said. ”More than ever, we’re putting it on our players to make decisions in real time.”
Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.
”For the most part, it’s been the same,” Mosley said. ”He always comes in and says Derick Brassard Jersey
, `I have to lead the linebacker room,’ and sits down and gets to talking like he’s back at linebacker coach.”
Told of Mosley’s disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, ”I’ve been trying to stay out of there, but you can’t help but go in. That’s home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well.”
And just about everywhere else.
”Where we’re going with this thing is really exciting to me,” Martindale said, ”and I know it’s exciting to the players.”
In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.
”I don’t know if Jimmy’s like half Wolverine, but he’s healed up in half the time of regular human beings,” Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.
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A five-minute implosion made the Capitals look like the same old team in the playoffs.