Calming, focusing, not panicking.
That’s what it’s like in the Capitals’ locker room, according to goaltender Braden Holtby, in situations such as the first intermission Thursday, when the team was down 1-0 and had clawed its way back from a 14-0 shot deficit to start the game.
“The dressing room’s personality is almost like a person’s,” Holtby said. “It’s hard to explain, because you can tell if a group is confident or not just by listening to a dressing room. It’s not one guy or two guys. It’s just the mood in the dressing room and how it makes you feel. And right now, it’s really good.”
The team came back Thursday to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1, Holtby conquered a shaky first period to earn first star of the game honors, and the Capitals extended their winning streak to six, which once seemed a taller order than the team’s roster could fill.
Troy Brouwer thinks the adversity the Capitals went through this year strengthened the team’s relationships, and adds the guys hang out often away from the rink.
“It goes along with trust,” Brouwer said of the advantage that off-ice camaraderie has to on-ice production. “And when you’re friends with someone, and you trust them off the ice, you’re going to trust them on the ice.”
Mike Green says the locker room now is just as close, if not closer, than during the team’s incredible playoff push in 2008.
It was Green, in fact, who gave the Capitals their second goal Thursday, with a well-aimed shot after getting the puck from Jay Beagle.
But maybe Matt Hendricks’ answer, when asked about the difficulty of the shot, is indicative of how close this team really is:
“Greenie gets a lot of goals. I’m gonna give all the compliments to my linemates, Wolski and Beagle. Wolski made a great chip for Jay, Jay was able to keep his speed going to the corner and get it. I think everybody thought he was going to pass it to Alzner coming down the slot, and he made the other choice and went far side to Green. As a defender, it’s hard to get back in your position. And, big Number 8 [Ovechkin] standing in front of the goalie, it’s hard to see.”
The team also appeared much more physical in the second, leapfrogging Carolina with the number of hits recorded on the stats sheet, though the two finished the game virtually tied in that statistic. Brouwer had 5 total hits, which meant he led the team in both goals and hits Thursday.
His two goals bookended the one by Green in the second period. Brouwer’s first was on the power play, and the latter was an empty-netter which allowed the Capitals to breathe in the final seconds of the game.
It looks like the Capitals are trying to prove the old adage: it’s not how you start, but how you finish.