Capitals keeping the faith for Game 6 Sunday

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Even if you’ve just watched one hockey game your entire life, you can’t argue that the game is played between men.

Still, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz had a higher power on his mind after Friday night’s 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of the NHL opening round playoff series and dismissed any talk of the Capitals playoff future being determined by past woes.

“I always talk about the hockey Gods and people think I’m crazy, but in Game 4 I didn’t think we played hard enough [the entire game] and they sometimes make you run it a little bit,” said Trotz Friday night.

You can’t accuse the Capitals of not working hard enough in Game 5 though.

They controlled the puck for most of the game, killed six penalties and let fly 44 shots on Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

“What we’re learning is we’ve got have a resilient team on the other side,” said Trotz. “They’re getting good goal tending; they’re committed; they’re [defense is] blocking shots.”

Neurvirth actually worked four times as hard has his counterpart Braden Holtby, who only had to contend with 11 shots all game.

Call it whatever you will but one of those shots squirted through.

“They got a little bit of a lucky goal but you put the puck to the goal sometimes it goes in,” said Trotz.

Stotz said he was disappointed by the eight penalties the Caps committed, including one fight that broke out just 10 seconds into the game that involved T.J. Oshie.

“Obviously, he and Brayden Schenn had a date because they started it off pretty quick but yeah I love it when your top players step in and say, ‘You know what? We are in.’ And he did,” said Trotz. “I know everybody in the locker room, there’s a lot of honor in that when a guy steps up for someone else.”

The honor went unrewarded though.

Trotz talked about how the lack of discipline throughout the game led to few full strength minutes early in the game.

He said when the Caps square off 5-on-5 it’s to their advantage.

“I think we deserved every single one of [those penalties] and it’s crazy. You can’t be undisciplined,” said Trotz. “We were the most disciplined team I thought earlier in the series and this game we weren’t.”

There was dissension in the stands as well.

Fans know all too well the struggles of past Capitals playoff teams, losing heartbreaking game sevens and sometimes losing series to heavy underdogs.

“They better not do it this year,” muttered one fan leaving the Verizon Center on Friday.

Despite a steadfast belief in hockey Gods and dumb luck, Trotz argues against a franchise curse determining the outcome of the series.

“Everybody always talks about the past, the past, the past– the only pressure we’ll have is on ourselves,” said Trotz. “We have to go into Philadelphia and play really win and get a win there.”

The head coach said despite Friday’s outcome he thought the team played excellent. When pressed for answers on how to improve he said more consistent play from center ice would help along with fewer penalties and, in turn, more of those full strength showdowns with the Flyers.

“We want to play 5 on 5,” said Stotz.

Because man to man, the Capitals feel they have the better team but are having a hard time explaining why the Flyers have a chance to tie the series up Sunday. That would force a game seven and put fans on the brink of despair.

If some fans believe this team is destined to fail Stotz and players don’t want to hear it.

“I don’t know if it’s fair or not– it doesn’t really matter,” said Stotz. “I’ll trust our game. If we throw that back out there next game, or in game 7, I’ll trust that game. I think our odds are pretty good.”