That one victory would shift home ice advantage back the Canadiens way, and it's what any road team hopes to accomplish in the first two games. So now that the primary goal has already been achieved, how do you come up with the urgency to win this next one?
Desperation, like most states of mind, is hard to manufacture out of nothing. It can trigger performances out of athletes, but only when it is genuine. The Canadiens were all saying this morning that winning this game was just as important as the first one, but really, in the back of their minds, you could tell it wasn't. They've already done their jobs, this game would be gravy.
"The key for us is not to worry about getting up 2-0," Mike Cammalleri was saying. "It’s important for us to try to play to our potential, and we like our team if we do."
Marc-Andre Bergeron all but admitted that this game would be like a bonus, whereas it's anything but that for the Capitals.
"We’re conscious that this is a crucial game for them, and we’re conscious that we’re going back to Montreal afterwards," he said. "It doesn’t mean we’ll win both games there, but it’s still an advantage for us. We know they’re all going to give a little bit more and it’s up to us to be ready. But we know what to expect."
Over at the Capitals practice earlier this morning it was a different mood entirely. The team and coach Bruce Boudreau are not in panic mode by any stretch, but Mike Knuble called Game 1 a "wake-up call" that this is a different brand of hockey and that the playoffs have officially begun. For a team that clinched home ice throughout the playoffs weeks ago and had little to play for, that comment says a lot.
Here's my story for CBC.ca today with line combinations for both teams and my belief that Bergeron has become the key player for Game 2 because of his increased ice time playing alongside Andrei Markov. It will be different when Jacques Martin gets the final change in Game 3, but Bergeron will need to be at least adequate defensively tonight as Boudreau keeps trying to put Alex Ovechkin out there against him.