Kanoobs celebrates his Game 5 goal. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
After being scratched for the first three games of the Caps’ first round series against Boston, 39-year-old Mike Knuble was inserted into the lineup for Game Four and hasn’t been taken out since. The fan-favorite right wing even scored in the third period of Game Five to help the Capitals take a 3-2 lead in the series. Knuble has always been reliable for the Caps in the postseason — he’s scored 5 goals in 16 career playoff games for the Capitals and has 28 points in 57 career playoff games. The 16-year NHL veteran has also won a Stanley Cup and played in three Game Sevens, which is something not many players on the Caps roster can say.
So what should we expect to see in the deciding game on Wednesday? In an interview with DC101′s Elliot in the Morning, Knuble talks about Braden Holtby, tuning out the Bruins’ trash-talk, and Ovechkin’s limited ice time in Game Three.
On the game tomorrow:
It’s just going to be another close game, I hope everybody’s understanding that, everybody who’s watched our series. It does feel like the series it’s due for [a blowout]. A one-sided win — for the Caps, that’s for sure.
On Game Sevens:
They’re a lot of fun. I think as players, we all love to compete, that’s why we’re in the NHL. If we didn’t have a certain love of competitiveness, you can’t make it here. It’s a time when it’s one game and somebody’s going home. You can look at the guy across from you and say, some of us will be playing tomorrow and some of us won’t. It’s going to be you or me.
On the atmosphere in the room:
It’s great. It’s calm, but guys are ready, guys are focused, everybody’s in that playoff mode by Game Seven. You’re thinking about it a lot, you’re eating, sleeping, and playing playoff hockey, and that’s about it. It’s time-consuming, it’s life-consuming right now, and I think that’s good. I think we’ve all played enough hockey at different levels, guys who’ve played internationally, guys who’ve played in the minors, guys who’ve played in the NHL. It could be a time where if you’re weak in the mind a little bit, you’re going to seize up and be a little bit scared, but I think we’re past that point, and we play confidently in tense situations.
On preparing for the next game:
I think the big message is, don’t change anything. This series, the characteristics of this series has been tight games the whole time. They’re not going to blow it open in the beginning, we’re not going to blow it open in the beginning, and that’s just the way it’s gone. I think as players you have to come in with that approach, you’re in it for the long haul, it’s going to be decided in the 58th, 59th, 60th minute and maybe even longer than that going to overtime. I think we’re all prepared for that, and if you’re not prepared that’s where you get caught off guard, but that’s what we’re ready for.
On the tightness of the series:
I thought there’d maybe be a blowout for them, a blowout for us, one game where the goaltending wasn’t quite as sharp for one squad or the other, but each goalie has been excellent every game, they’ve had a big hand in the series. Whatever goalie tomorrow night is going to make that last save, that will probably be the difference in the game. At the same time, the players have responded in front of them, I think we’ve done an excellent job of limiting great chances on Braden, and that’s why the scores have been low, and they’ve done a great job limiting us as well.
On Holtby’s personality:
He’s very well-liked by his peers, the guys who played with him in Hershey and stuff like that. Probably when he gets away from the rink at a different point in the year, his personality will come out a lot more, obviously this isn’t a great time to judge him. He’s not going to be the funnest guy in the world at this time of year, he’s focused on what he’s supposed to do. I think if he was jumping around and being too loose, I think guys might be looking around at each other like “what’s with this guy”. But we certainly appreciate the way he’s coming in and approaching games, and approaching practices. You just have to leave him alone, you let him go about his business, and you hope he’s stopping pucks for you when it comes game time.
On his return to the lineup and his Game Five goal:
It’s been a unique season. It’s been a lot of ups and downs, probably more downs than ups. I got a great chance to play in Game Four, you get a chance to get in there and you just don’t want it to be a one-game addition. Then Game Five, you happen to chip one in at a good time. Obviously it’s a great thrill, it’s a good feeling. You just want to help the team win. You get in there and you just try and stick any way you can.
On his linemates:
Our job isn’t to always score, but to just try to log some time in the offensive zone, try and wear on some defensemen and tilt the ice, try to get some momentum going for the top three lines. I think Joel and I, and Keith Aucoin, have done a nice job of that.
On the chippiness of the postseason so far:
I don’t know if each NHL series is feeding off each other or what, but it seemed like things were going a little bit crazy in the first three or four games of every series. Players were almost distracted as to what the goal was on the ice, to win the game, everybody wanted to prove they weren’t going to be intimidated, how tough everybody was talking and all that. It has calmed down, guys are down to playing hockey, figured out that the best way to stick it to somebody is to win the series and send them home. I think everyone’s resigned to the fact, they’d much rather win the series than get the last lip in on somebody.
On the chirping:
I think it has quieted down. I think it came to a head Game Two and Three. I think everybody realized it was going to be a tight series, nobody’s going anywhere, no one’s going to quit and get pushed out of the series. Everyone is focusing more on doing their job and what made them successful as players, scorers are trying to score, checkers are trying to check. Guys still talk or whatever, but now — you know when you keep hearing something over and over again, the first few times it might get on your nerves and irritate you, but then you just start tuning it out.
On Brad Marchand:
I don’t know him as a player, but you hear that old description, he’s a guy you hate playing against but you’d love to have on your team. He does it with his mouth, he’s been very vocal and kind of poking everybody, and then he scores timely goals at times. He’s actually a pretty good player. I think he’s one of those guys fans love to hate.
On the success of the grinders:
Yeah, it’s not always about who can score the most goals, you get some role players playing well. You talk about Jay [Beagle], you talk about Matt Hendricks, some guys who aren’t always going to score a ton of goals, but they’ve done a nice job of keeping the opposition off the board, they’ve had to kill a lot of penalties, they’re blocking a ton of shots. It’s good to see. You go into our training room after games, and there are five, six guys with ice bags on, and that’s always a good sign that a team is paying the price. It’s good to see guys paying the price and having the bruises as a result.
On Ovi’s limited ice time:
Dale at times, he goes very situational, this time of year he’s not about sending messages. He’s going with certain ideas about how to get things done. At times, obviously when we need a goal, he might be out there every other shift, and at times Dale might be a little more be more comfortable putting out someone a little more defensive. That’s the way he’s doing it. I don’t think you need to make a big deal out of it. I was glad to see that Ovi didn’t.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.