May 2, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT
Will a happy Alex Ovechkin translate into team success?
Last year, when the Capitals faced the Rangers in the second round, Alex Ovechkin — one of the NHL’s biggest stars — played just 13:36 in a 3-2 Game 2 victory. The reason? Then-Washington coach Dale Hunter didn’t trust his captain defensively, often leaving Ovechkin on the bench when the Caps held a lead. This year, Ovechkin has thrived under new coach Adam Oates, moving from the the left wing to the right and leading the league in goals, with 32. But Ovechkin has gone into the playoffs as the league’s top sniper before, and it hasn’t translated into anything better than a second-round defeat.
Will Rick Nash make his mark?
Rick Nash has scored lots of goals in his career, but he’s still only played four playoff games. In his first season with the Rangers after being traded from Columbus, Nash had 21 goals in 44 games. Now comes the opportunity for the 28-year-old to make his mark in games that count. “It’s something all the great athletes have done,” he said. “It’s time to step up now.” With his big body and ability to shield defenders, Nash will also be key for a New York side that will want to control the puck in the Washington end as much as possible.
Will Marc Staal be back?
The Rangers’ defenseman has been out of the lineup since being struck in the eye with a puck in early March. It’s unlikely he’ll be ready for Game 1, but the fact he’s been practicing with the team is a sign he may be ready to play soon. Not only is Staal a good defensive defenseman, his return would mean fewer hard minutes for Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Last year, two of the seven Caps-Rangers games went to overtime. By the time New York met the Devils in the conference finals, fatigue appeared to be a factor, even if John Tortorella refused to admit it.
Can the Rangers stay out of the penalty box?
Because the Capitals have the NHL’s best power play. Washington — armed with the likes of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green — scored on an impressive 26.8 percent of its man advantages during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Rangers’ had only an average penalty kill (15th, 81.1%). Of course, the best way to negate a good power play has always been to avoid taking penalties. New York is normally a disciplined team, and would be advised to remain that way.
Holtby was rock-solid in goal for the Caps down the stretch. In April, the 23-year-old had nine wins against just one regulation loss, registering a save percentage of .937. Still, he only has one postseason of experience compared to Lundqvist’s six. What does he think about that? “There are things that you can gain from experience in terms of your play but when it comes down to it that stuff is thrown out the window,” said Holtby. “You just have to perform, you have to believe that we’re the better team and you go from there. You throw experience out the window and you just play.”
Jul 27, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
He last played in 2001 with the Edmonton Oilers.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
He’s played four full seasons there already.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
He has a few guys that can help make it happen there.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT
He was their final restricted free agent.
Jul 27, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT
He emerged as the team’s No. 2 center last season.
Jul 27, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
That adds another layer to the Flames’ goaltending competition.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
He has played in 132 NHL games.
Jul 27, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
It led to him having a minor procedure.
Jul 27, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT
He’ll enter training camp with a shot of making the team.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:06 AM EDT
“I can be a lot better.”
Jul 27, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT
He’s the last RFA left for them to re-sign.
Jul 26, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
We’ve hit that part of free agency.
Jul 26, 2014, 9:57 PM EDT
They’re both eligible to become free agents next summer.
Jul 26, 2014, 8:20 PM EDT
They had the league’s third-worst unit last season.
Jul 26, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT
He’s scheduled for arbitration on Friday.
Jul 26, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT
It’ll be his third team in the past year.
Jul 26, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
He was injured during World Championships in May.
Jul 26, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Reggie vs. Gustl: who you got?
Jul 26, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
Can they compromise by Tuesday?
Jul 26, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
Positive updates following a scary situation.
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal 38
- Subban not eager to discuss contract talks 33
- Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million 21
- Gorges still can’t explain falling out of favor in Montreal 13
- Eller, Habs agree to four-year, $14 million contract 10
- Cory Sarich hospitalized following cycling accident, expects ‘full recovery’ 7
- Stamkos shrugs off talk of LeBron-like homecoming to Toronto in 2016 31
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain 45
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal 39
- Zuccarello takes Rangers’ one year, $3.5M deal 42
- NBC Sports to air over 100 NHL regular-season games in 2014-15 (69)
- Vanek connected to federal gambling investigation (61)
- Report: O’Reilly wants $6.7M deal, Avs counter at $5.5M (58)
- Return that toaster: Ovechkin-Kirilenko engagement broken off (54)
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain (45)