The Washington Capitals looked listless in Game Four, losing to the Boston Bruins 4-1. After winning the first game of the series, the Capitals have lost three consecutive games to Boston and face elimination on Sunday.
Ahead of practice on Saturday, Peter Laviolette spoke to the press and revealed it was possible the team could tinker with its lineup for Game Five, but nothing was decided as of now.
“We’ll take care of all of that inside the room,” Laviolette said. “We’ll access where everybody’s at today with the game, health, we’ll take everything into consideration and then move from there.”
When pressed if he would consider switching out any fatigued players for ones that are more fresh such as Daniel Sprong, Trevor van Riemsdyk, or the black aces, Laviolette explained that those conversations haven’t happened yet.
“We’re talking through that,” Laviolette said. “There’s not a lot of moves that can be made but there could be one or two. That’s what we’re working through today. When the game ends, you travel home, you watch the game on the plane ride home, you get in, get back in here early this morning for practice, you start breaking down what you see. It’s not like we’ve talked about the lineup for 15 hours so far. The players were coming in here. We knew we needed to be ready to meet with them. As we attack the day, you start to continue to look at the game last night at 5v5. You continue to talk about specialty teams. You talk about the lineup and you go from there. These are all conversations we’ll get into.”
Ilya Samsonov will likely start his third straight game for the first time this season under Laviolette. The coach said his goaltending decision would “be based on what we’ve seen and who gives us the best chance of being successful.”
Meanwhile, the Capitals’ power play, which has only connected on three of 17 opportunities in the series and looked discombobulated against Boston’s high-pressure PK, could see some strategy changes or focuses. While Alex Ovechkin has scored twice on the PP in the series, he had four different shots blocked last night. The Capitals struggled to attack from any other locations on the ice.
“I think we’re constantly looking for different ways to attack the power play,” Laviolette said. “This has been a unit that has done things a certain way with different options – not just Ovi. There’s options from the other side. There’s options down low. There’s options in the middle. There’s options up top. I think the execution can be a little bit better with what we’re doing.
The odds of the Capitals coming back in the series are long — they only have a 14 percent chance of advancing to the second round at this point — but they can draw confidence that Peter Laviolette once led one of his teams back from a 3-0 series deficit. In 2010, Laviolette’s Flyers came back against the Bruins.
“You have to play well first,” Laviolette said of what his secret is. “You have to play a game that can be successful and that’ll put you in the game. That’ll give you the chance. I don’t think you can have this long-term plan. It’s got to be a real short-term plan. Shift-by-shift. Period-by-period. Just one game. That’s all you can really talk about. That’s all you can really think about. Making sure the guys are prepared. They’re ready and go out and fight for it one at a time.”
He added, “There’s no room for the weak in the playoffs. You have to respond to everything… We’re faced with a situation where we need to be better and the only thing you can do is respond. Our guys are preparing for that game right now.”
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