NEW YORK -- Despite the opening game loss to the New York Rangers Wednesday night, coach Terry Murray was reasonably satisfied with the effort of his Washington Capitals heading into tonight's second game (8:30, Ch. 20).
"Only real problem we had is I'd like everyone to stay on the ice more," he said. This is a reference to the five power plays the Caps handed over to the Rangers, some on penalties that showed a player or two losing their poise and resorting to retaliatory tactics.
Neither team was successful during man-advantage situations in New York's 2-1 victory, but the Caps lost attack continuity at inopportune times when forced to go to their penalty-killing personnel.
"We want guys out there drawing penalties if they can and, hopefully, we can take advantage of them," he said. "Close checking and increased contact are going to happen in the playoffs so defensive guys are going to be out there more. This is going to lower the score, making it doubly important to take advantage of opportunities."
The Rangers' victory came as a mild surprise considering the team had played so badly during March, winning just two of a dozen games. There was much grumbling in the clubhouse and the always-tough fans in Madison Square Garden were doubly sore as a result of huge ticket price increases in effect for postseason play.
"But we found out," said Murray, "that the playoffs are a completely new season and situation. And the key to the situation now is for the good players -- every team has a bunch of them -- to pick up the intensity level and lead."
The series switches to Landover for Games 3 and 4 Sunday and next Tuesday.