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Capitals keeping the faith despite deficit

by Dan Rosen
ARLINGTON, Va. -- The sun will come up again when the Washington Capitals wake up Monday morning in their New York City hotel beds. It'll be a new day, a new game and another chance for the young team to write a new story.

You see, life does go on -- even when you are the favorite and the higher seed and still trail the New York Rangers 2-0 in a best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round series.

"It's pretty evident we've got to play better," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday morning after an optional practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in which all but 7 of the 24 players on the roster skated. "We're all talking about playing pretty good, but we're down 2-0 so we can't be doing everything right. We've got to play better. We've got to find different ways. We'll figure it out before (Monday's) game and hopefully the players will listen to what we're talking about."

Much has been made about how the Rangers are paying the price in this series while the Capitals are making it too easy on goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Nobody is denying either fact, but the Capitals also believe they're working hard for goals. It's just that the Rangers are doing a masterful job of filling the shooting lanes (they have 50 blocked shots in two games) and their defensemen are blocking out well.

Asked what the Capitals can do differently to get even more rubber on Lundqvist, who has stopped 67 of 70 shots through two games, Boudreau said, "Miss them, quite frankly. It's a shoot it where they ain't type thing. They do a very good job of dropping back and they're all committed to blocking shots. It's a fine way to play."

Caps forward Brooks Laich believes a lot of Washington's scoring woes can be solved if they simply strike first Monday night. They were 34-8-3 when scoring the first goal during the regular season and 30-3-3 when leading after the first period.

Washington hasn't scored a first-period goal in this series. They scored four first-period goals in four games against the Rangers during the regular season.

"If you can get up one on them or up two on them even, now they have to change their game to try and score because they have to press a little more for goals," Laich said. "We have to throw everything at the net and really push to get that first one."

There is no word on who will be trying to stop the puck in the Capitals' net -- 20-year-old rookie Simeon Varlamov or 32-year-old veteran Jose Theodore. Boudreau said he might decide to tell the goalies on the flight up to New York "after the media is gone."

He said he sat Theodore on Saturday because, "sometimes it's like players, you get in ruts and it's better to sit a game or two and watch and that refocuses what's at hand."

Boudreau seemed especially pleased with Varlamov. The rookie stopped 23 of 24 shots Saturday in a surprising start for Theodore, who gave up four goals on 21 shots in Game 1.

"I thought he was solid," Boudreau said. "We had all the faith in the world in him, as we do in Theo. We just thought this was a time to give Theo a rest and maybe watching a game might help him."

Theodore said he was surprised he didn't get the call Saturday, but he supported Varlamov. He hinted that he was angry, but he doesn't plan on making a stink about it.

"If there is anger I want to keep it inside because I don't want to be a distraction for my teammates," Theodore said. "The longer we play everybody is going to get a chance to play. For sure I want to play. You work hard to play in the playoffs and to be able to bounce back when the challenge is there."

Caps notes
-- Boudreau said captain Chris Clark, who skated with the team again Sunday, is still "a week to 10 days" away from playing. He also said Donald Brashear is "hungry to play" and he might before this series is over. … Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz, who missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury, is still being listed as day to day. … Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Tom Poti did not skate in Sunday's optional practice.

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