The Washington Capitals, who have tortured their fans with crushing playoff losses in the past, are a game away from digging out of a 2-0 hole and advancing to the second round. After beating Columbus 4-3 in overtime this afternoon, Washington has a chance to wrap the series up Monday night in Columbus. But it won’t be that easy, writes the Washington Post’s Roman Stubbs, who quotes Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella as saying there will be another game in D.C.:
“We will be back here for Game 7,” he said, before doubling down after another question about how he would prepare his team for the next game. “I won’t have to say a damn word to them. We’ll be back here for Game 7.”
As Stubbs points out, this isn’t the first person to guarantee victory, as the Caps’ Alex Ovechkin vowed that his team would rally from the two game deficit. Last season, Mike Babcock guaranteed a seventh game against the Capitals, but as Stubbs notes, that guarantee “rang hollow.” The Jackets’ bench boss is most likely trying to deflect the pressure that builds after squandering a two game series lead, or as Caps coach Barry Trotz said after hearing of Tortorella’s guarantee: “He wants to get it out there he believes in his team, just as I believe in my team.”
- J.T. Miller is thriving with the Tampa Bay Lightning and the former Ranger has been a key part in Tampa’s first round success writes Newsday’s Colin Stephenson. With four points in five games, Stephenson reports that being on a line with Steven Stamkos certainly helps his performance, but it’s Miller’s grit and tenacity that has made him so valuable on a team loaded with skill. Whether it’s his work on the ice leading to goals, like his screen of Cory Schneider during Nikita Kucherov’s goal, or his knack to win crucial faceoffs (currently 56% through five games), he’s a guy, according to Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper, who “can make plays.”
- Emily Kaplan of ESPN (Insider Subscription needed) offers a post-mortem of the Devils season and writes that the team has to add some defensive depth as it was a glaring need during the five game loss to the Lightning. She writes that both Sami Vatanen and Will Butcher are great building blocks for a strong defensive corps, but “reinforcements” are needed to get the Devils back into the playoffs and beyond. She also touches on predictions for next season, and what the Devils should do concerning Patrick Maroon and Michael Grabner.