In a way, stats have become meaningless and quotes irrelevant heading into tonight's game six against the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 p.m., CSN). The Caps need to win or it'll be the end of a very memorable season. Throughout their 19 postseason games under Coach Bruce Boudreau, the Caps seem to play better when facing these situations or, as Brian Pothier put it yesterday, showing "desperation and urgency."
Those characteristics should be prevalent in every playoff game. The Pens have played their best hockey over the last three games showing just that and, when the New York Rangers were backed to a wall in game seven of the first round, played better than they had in weeks.
Yes, it's hard to play like there's no tomorrow in game one or two of a series, but it's a necessity. The Caps did win the first two games against the Pens but they didn't outplay the visitors. In fact, many say that the Caps' game five effort was the best so far of the postseason.
The biggest disappointment of this series has been Alex Semin. His virtual disappearance in this vital series is not the first time he's gone away for long stretches, but it's certainly the most inopportune. If he doesn't elevate his game tonight, then what does that say about his mettle when nearly every other player on the active roster has stepped it up for this series?
The Caps need to treat every game like it's an elimination contest. Fortunately for the red, white and blue, tonight's visit to the Igloo is just that.