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Capitals’ Keith Aucoin on D&C: ‘You could see the hate’ in Game 3

04.18.12 at 11:19 am ET

Capitals center Keith Aucoin joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to discuss his team’s series against the Bruins and his experience growing up in the Boston area.

Aucoin may have grown up playing hockey in Waltham and Chelmsford, but now he plays on an enemy line as far as Bruins fans are concerned as the B’s and Capitals square off in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Aucoin and the Capitals returned home with the series tied heading into Game 3, but the Bruins were able to snag a victory, something that Aucoin said was because the Bruins simplified their game.

“I think they kept the game a lot more simple,” Aucoin said. “They were a lot more physical than they were in Game 1 and 2, and I think they kind of wore us down a bit toward the end of the game. They turned the puck over, which is what they key on.

“They got us off our game a little bit, and after the whistles stopped there was a lot of extracurricular activity. We have to make sure we stay away from that and that’€™s what we did in Games 1 and 2.”

When asked if the physical play of Game 3 was a sign of things to come, if the series may take an ugly turn as it has in many series around the NHL, Aucoin said that these kinds of actions are what happen when two teams have prolonged exposure to each other in such a condensed period of time.

“I think that’€™s what happens in a series,” Aucoin said. “[In] Game 1 there wasn’€™t much at all, and Game 2 a little bit more and Game 3 a little bit more. As the games go on, you get sick of each other and you grow tired of each other. You never know what can happen. You could see the hate going in Game 3.”

The Capitals suffered a tough setback to their hopes to rebound from their Game 3 loss when it was announced that Nicklas Backstrom would be suspended for Game 4 for his cross-check on Rich Peverley at the end of the game. Though Backstrom’s absence will certainly make things tougher for the Capitals, Aucoin said that the team can possibly rally around it.

” I think the guys have to rally around each other and go out there and figure out a way to win,” Aucoin said. “Tomorrow’€™s a must-win game for us, so we can’€™t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to go out there and somebody’€™s got to step up.

“[For] the last month and a half before the playoffs started we’€™ve been playing playoff hockey. We have to figure out a way to do it again and rally. We’€™re a team that’€™s rallied around each other all year and it’€™s been fun to be a part of.”

An exchange between Washington’s Karl Alzner and Boston’s Milan Lucic in which Alzner taunted Lucic by pretending to wipe away tears was a sign of the heightened hatred between the two teams in this series. Aucoin said that he was surprised Alzner acted that way, but it’s something that can easily happen this time of year — that is, a player’s emotions getting the better of him.

“I didn’€™t even see that until somebody told me about that,” Aucoin said. “Karl’€™s not like that at all — he’€™s a hard-nosed guy, he plays hard, he doesn’€™t say much on and off the ice. That shows what playoff hockey is all about — emotions get high. I expect nothing different. It’€™s going to be a physical game on Thursday and I’€™m looking forward to it.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On his unconventional path to the NHL: “I knew it was going to be a longshot, obviously going Division 3 [Norwich University in Vermont] and not too many guys come out from Division 3 to play professional hockey. I knew in the back of my mind, it was still a goal of mine to play in the NHL, just like any other hockey player. I knew it was going to be a tough road. I finally got a chance in the AHL, where I produced really well and finally got some NHL contracts. It’€™s been fun.”

On the turning point in his career: “It was the lockout year. I played in Providence and I played on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Andy Hilbert. I had 70 points that year and we went to the Calder Cup semifinals. That was the year where a lot of NHL guys were playing in the AHL during the lockout. We had a successful season that year, and after that I knew I could play, and if I got the opportunity and the playing time I knew I could do it. That was the year that I really opened up my eyes that I could do it.”

On Capitals coach Dale Hunter: “He’€™s a really quiet guy. He was a physical player when he played, but he doesn’€™t say much. He lays out the game plan and expects you to go hard out there on every shift. He’€™ll get in a guy’€™s face when he has to, but since I’€™ve been here, I’€™ve probably only seen that once. He’€™s a players’ coach, he just expects you to go out there every shift and work hard, play the system and play his game plan. He’€™s fun to play for.”

Read More: Andy Hilbert, Dale Hunter, Karl Alzner, Keith Aucoin
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