“It’s going to be a big tilt.”

If you’re like me (and some of the players, too), you can’t wait for face-off tonight at Verizon Center between the Caps and the Carolina Hurricanes. Time moves slowly on game days when things are going well, and it’s certainly true today.

With that in mind, here are some great quotes I gathered from the Caps’ locker room after Monday’s practice.

Center Sergei Fedorov
On what he might tell younger players before a big game like this one:
“Not much, to be honest with you. I think we have a great coaching staff. They are already on top of things. They stress enough and focus our energy and our desperation. I don’t think we have to say something. Because we are players, too. We have to do what we have to do in order to come out and be at our best. Obviously it’s a work in progress during the game; we’ll exchange whatever info we need to in order to get better immediately.

“But before the game everybody maintains and gets ready in their own way. And hopefully we come together as a group at the right time.”

On playing the same three teams they played last week at home thins week:
“I personally like to play here at home. On the road was a little bit tougher. At home you have more things at your disposal to get you ready. It’s more relaxing and not so hectic. You know, hotels, suits, ties and all that stuff. You’re more relaxed here. All we have to do is maintain our focus and hopefully don’t relax too much.”

Center Brooks Laich
On the stress level:
“I watched the Boston game last night and you feel powerless sometimes when you watch and you hope for another team to win. But we’re looking at [Tuesday’s] game. We feel that if we win [Tuesday] we’re going to be in. Obviously it’s a big game. We still have Carolina in our sights. They’ve been ahead of us lots of times this year. They haven’t really pulled out of our window and we’ve kept fighting and fighting. We still believe we have a chance at the division. [Tuesday’s] going to be a war. We’re looking forward to it.”

On coach Boudreau’s approach:
“He tells us just to focus on practice today and after practice he tells us to focus on the game tomorrow. I know he’s looking ahead; he’s scoreboard-watching probably more than anybody. But he’s trying to keep our group in here focused on the task at hand. And we have to prepare. We can’t look by Carolina. They’re going to be playing their best hockey [Tuesday] and we’re going to play our best. It’s going to be an exciting game and if we can get that one it should lead to two more victories the rest of the week.”

On what it was like to be out of the playoff chase last year:
“Yeah. I remember the last two years. We weren’t in the race. We were out of the race in February. We were just trying to play and still be competitive because you’re playing for pride at that point in time. Now we’re playing for a playoff spot. I think if you ask anybody in here they’re having a ton of fun. We’re having a blast right now. It’s tight, the games are intense, they’re so meaningful. You just look at when we score goals and win hockey games how everyone is just so excited and so happy. If we can keep that feeling it’s going to be an exciting time going into the playoffs.”

On playing the last three at home:
“We had a great road trip. That’s one of the best road trips I’ve ever had in my career. We took five out of six and the games we were in were [like] playoff games. We came through in tough games where we were down 3-1, we were able to win games in shootouts and overtimes. Being in tight games is something that we’re used to around here, and it’s going to benefit us. [Tuesday’s] going to be another tight game. From now on they only get tighter and tighter and tighter and more pressure packed. I think we’re prepared for it.”

On the mood in the room:
“I think everyone is having so much fun. The games are tight. But we’re not squeezing our sticks so tight that we’re almost taking ourselves out. We’re playing. We’re not even thinking. Guys are playing; guys are on a roll. It’s hard to describe. If you don’t play, it’s a hard thing to understand. But when you’re a player and you get on a roll, you don’t think. You just play the game and you react. You use your instincts and you’re so intense. I think we have to have that going forward if we’re going to make a push. Honestly, [Tuesday] like I said is going to be a war on ice. It’s going to be a fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”

On watching the standings and scoreboard:
“Other teams are playing well. It’s tough to make up ground. And then you miss a day, you don’t play for a couple days and another team gets another point ahead of you. Some teams are three points ahead of us. There’s a cluster at 91 points. We’re still looking at Carolina. We’ve had them in our sights since Bruce got here. At one point we were ahead of them and then they took back first [place]. Right now, they’re holding something we want. All [Monday’s] practice was to getting prepared for [Tuesday]. We’re looking forward to [Tuesday’s] game and we’ll deal with Florida and Tampa after that.”

On playing the first home game after a long road trip, a game that often produces a letdown:
“I don’t think that should be a problem, especially this time of year with how big that game is. [Tuesday’s] game could be the make or break. If we win it, we’re probably going to get in. If we don’t win it, it’s going to be tough to get in. It’s going to be real tough to get in. We’re going to need a lot of help from other teams. If you can’t get up for [Tuesday’s] game, I don’t think you should be in this league.”

On the expected atmosphere for tonight’s game:
“It’s going to be nuts. As I’ve said a couple times, it’s going to be war on ice. It’s going to be a bitter fight. They know what’s at stake, too. They know if we get them [Tuesday] there is a chance they might not sneak in. So they’re going to be hungry. They’re going to play their best hockey and they’re going to throw everything at us. And we’re going to do the same to them. We have to play with total disregard for our bodies. We have to block pucks, take hits and do everything we can to win this hockey game. It’s going to be a big tilt. Like I said, I can’t wait to go for it.”

On coming to the rink with the feeling that you’re going to win, like during the spring of ’06 when Laich and several other current Caps won the Calder Cup:
“We’ve got that. I’ve talked to guys about that, I’ve talked to Gordo and Stecks and Flash and Fehrsie, It’s such a unique feeling.

“When we won that Calder Cup, you would come to the rink and you did your thing. You practiced. You didn’t even think about it. You just came, you practiced, you went home. When you came to the rink to play a game you just knew what to do and you knew what everybody was going to be doing. I was going to skate and move the puck, Fehrise was going to shoot the puck, Freddy was going to stop the puck. Greenie was going to be flying. You just knew what everyone was going to be doing and it was just easy. It was the hardest time of the year to play, but the games were just easy because you’re not thinking about it mentally. You’re on such a roll that you just play the game.

“I think we’ve got that with 10 wins in our last 12 games I think it is. We’ve got that around here. The confidence just keeps going higher and higher until you think that you’re unbeatable. I remember when we lost. We won 10 games in a row to start the playoffs, and then we lost that one game. Everyone was so bitter. There wasn’t a word said after the game. We just showered and went home and couldn’t wait to get back for the next game.

“There are guys in here who know what winning is like. [Fedorov] has talked about that before. He has talked about his experiences in Detroit where the game just becomes easy. You come to the rink, you do your thing and you go home. You come to the rink, you do your thing and you go home. That’s just your routine. We’ve got that feeling right now and we’ve got to keep it going.”

On how hard it is to wait for game time on game day:
“For me, my pre-game naps are getting shorter. I can’t fall asleep as quickly, and I’m thinking about the game and I’m up. And finally I can’t sleep anymore. So I get up.

“I remember our playoff run, I’d be at the rink at three o’clock or 3:15 for a seven o’clock game.

“And Bouds, would say, ‘Why don’t you stay at home and get some rest?’

“I’m like, ‘I can’t, I have to come here.’ And I’d say, ‘Well, you’re telling me to stay home, look at you. I can tell you’re not sleeping at night.’

“And he’d say, ‘No, I’m getting three hours of sleep at night.”

“It’s an exciting time and I can’t say it without a smile on my face: I love this time of year. We haven’t had this feeling around here in Washington. We’ve had it in Hershey, but we haven’t had it in Washington for a while. I think you’re starting to see some reaction from around the community and the fans. We’re starting to make it a bit more of a hockey town.”

Don’t forget to wear red.

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4 Comments on ““It’s going to be a big tilt.””

  1. Jill Says:

    We were with you here in Hershey for the Calder Cup and we’ll be with you for the Stanley Cup. Go CAPS!

  2. Dan, Jr. Says:

    Sounds like they are confident and focused, as well as able to enjoy the race. Great to hear!

  3. strungout Says:

    Let’s Go Caps!!

  4. Matt Says:

    You sir- are a lucky man to be around this. Enjoy the ride, I know I have.

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