May 2, 2013, 12:52 AM EDT
Being that this is their third consecutive playoff meeting, the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers know each other pretty well. As it happens, both teams have at least one thing in common: they’ve turned things around from darker times.
The Associated Press breaks down some pivotal moments for each team.
In the case of the Capitals, it all started to turn around after a players-only meeting following a dispiriting 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 8. Defenseman Karl Alzner described that moment.
“We played terrible. Didn’t have any emotion. It’s one you needed to talk about instantly; can’t let things like that drag on,” Alzner said. “We had to get everything out in the open, hear what everybody was feeling, why we thought we weren’t playing with as much intensity as we normally do, and figure it out. Figure it out now.”
While the Capitals cleared the air, the Rangers brought in new blood via trades. John Tortorella noted that things picked up when the team made trades that (most notably) sent Marian Gaborik out of town while bringing in Ryane Clowe and Derick Brassard.
“I think it solidified our team,” Tortorella said. “We have kind of grown since then. We’re not always dead-on in our minutes in the game, but we have still found ways to win hockey games, and that’s what we’re going to have to do in the playoffs.”
“I thought it changed our team a little bit … And we took off.”
Of course, both teams will face their biggest tests in the next weeks … and maybe months.
- IIHF, NHL to meet next month to discuss World Cup (Updated) 0
- Caps unveil new Winter Classic jerseys 23
- Drouin out 3-4 weeks with fractured thumb 3
- On carrying three goalies, and which teams might be forced to do it 8
- Bettman: NHL won’t expand ‘just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry’ 10
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough 35
- Injuries piling up as preseason schedule begins 11
- Report: Fedorov denies contract offer was made to Johansen 8
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers 44
- Update: Drouin out with upper body injury, not expected to miss preseason 1
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers (44)
- Just how damaging are heated negotiations between Jackets, RFA Johansen? (38)
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough (35)
- Desjardins (a.k.a. not Torts) makes good first impression on Canucks (29)