Islanders' top line checks out Caps' defensive trio excels in opener

April 20, 1993|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

It is one of hockey's quirks that in the playoffs, some of the best defense must be played by forwards. Or, perhaps, it's just a quirk of the Washington Capitals, who have such an offensive defense.

In either case, it will be center Mike Ridley and wings Kelly Miller and Bob Carpenter at center ice tonight trying to turn in another inspiring defensive display in Game 2 of the NHL Patrick Division playoffs, between Washington and the New York Islanders.

Pierre Turgeon, Derek King and Steve Thomas form the Islanders' most explosive line. The three have accounted for 133 goals this season, and they provide the main thrust at even strength or on the power play.

Sunday, in Game 1, the line was 0-for-5 on the power play anhad no points and only six shots.

Ridley, Miller and Carpenter neutralized them, keeping them ofbalance and out of sync.

When it was over, Washington had a 3-1 victory, New York coacAl Arbour was wondering where his power line had gone and Thomas was saying that the Capitals were a many-headed beast.

"They always had someone in our face," said Thomas, who ha37 goals in the regular season but, like 58-goal scorer Turgeon, took only one shot Sunday. "We've got to fight our way through that. We have to score for this team to be successful."

That fact, of course, isn't lost on the Capitals. As Carpenter saiyesterday, "If we can shut down that line, we basically shut down the whole team."

Capitals coach Terry Murray wouldn't go quite that far, but hdid say, "It could mean the Islanders' attack won't be the same," if his three men can take the puck away from Turgeon or have the puck go more often to Turgeon's wings.

And, with that in mind, he has assigned the mission to veteran Ridley, Miller and Carpenter.

Ridley is a center and Carpenter has spent most of his career a the position, so both know how to play defense.

Miller is a smart wing who loves to go nose to nose with Turgeon, a great puck-handler who also sees the ice well and makes terrific passes.

"Our two lines don't talk to each other," Miller said. "We don'push or shove. We just play fine hockey."

In this case, that means in-your-face checking and cautioumaneuvering on offense.

"We're not taking any chances offensively," Miller said"Basically, we're trying to keep them in front of us as much as possible. So, you really can't get reckless and go after goals. We simply wait for our chance and play defense."

They did it so well that they clogged the neutral zone. Making sure there were always three men along the red line, they allowed no odd-man breakaways or any sustained pressure from the Islanders.

"We're patient," said Carpenter. "And we know not to get three men caught in real deep. We make sure we pick them up and play smart, and if one of us does make a mistake, the other two cover."

This is not to say that Washington expects its success t continue.

"It was just one game," said Ridley. "There is too much left in the whole series to start gloating about scoring a goal or playing good defense or killing some penalties or doing good work on the power play.

"Those guys are too good to think they're not going to gechances. They're going to get chances and they might even score. The key is that we can't let it get to us."

The Islanders are making their own plans. Arbour decidesometime after Sunday's game that his team's recent schedule -- seven games in 11 days -- had worked against it.

So, after gathering his team on the bus yesterday afternoon tgo to practice, Arbour opened the doors and told the players they didn't have to go. And most didn't.

"My only concern is that they'll get too relaxed," he said, as manheaded back into the team's Annapolis hotel or toward the waterfront. "I don't want them to start acting like a bunch of tourists."

Besides insisting that the Islanders have to "outman Washington for the puck" and "force the issue on every shift in everything we do," Arbour would not say what he plans to do to get his top line going.

Said Turgeon: "We've got to bear down and finish our chances. We had some quality chances. What we have to do is go hard and win the battles on the boards."

NOTES: About 3,400 tickets remain for tonight's game. . . Washington reported that goalie Rick Tabaracci's twisted ankle is mending. Murray said he expects Tabaracci to start tonight, unless something developed overnight. . . . The Islanders listed Scott Lachance (wrist) as day-to-day.

CAPS VS. ISLANDERS

/ PATRICK DIVISION SEMIFINALS

(Best of seven: Capitals lead, 1-0) .. .. .. .. .. Results Game 1: Capitals 3, Islanders 1

.. .. .. .. Schedule

Date .. .. .. Time .. .. .. .. Site

Tonight .. .. 7:30 .. .. .. .. Capital Centre

Thursday .. ..7:30 .. .. .. .. Nassau Col.

Saturday .. ..7:30 .. .. .. .. Nassau Col.

Monday.. .. ..7:30 .. .. .. .. Capital Centre*

April 28 .. ..7:30 .. .. .. .. Nassau Col.*

April 30 .. .. 8 .. .. .. .. ..Capital Centre*

* - if necessary

TV: Capitals home games on HTS; road games on Channel 20

1% Radio: All games on WMAL (630 AM)

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