May 2, 2013, 11:51 AM EST
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.”
Feb 26, 2015, 6:18 PM EST
Head coach Joel Quenneville said it’s “all news to me.”
Feb 26, 2015, 5:30 PM EST
A familiar face goes back to the Toronto organization.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:49 PM EST
Buy hey, you never know.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:39 PM EST
Bold move from Florida GM Dale Tallon.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:35 PM EST
Looking forward to playing “a better role.”
Feb 26, 2015, 4:31 PM EST
Joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Chick Hearn and Oscar De La Hoya.
Feb 26, 2015, 4:06 PM EST
Former “CPR Line” line member is headed back to St. Louis.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:42 PM EST
A lost campaign for the veteran Sharks forward.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:04 PM EST
“People are getting excited for mid-range players.”
Feb 26, 2015, 2:31 PM EST
A couple of tweets are causing a stir in Chicago.
Feb 26, 2015, 2:24 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Feb 26, 2015, 2:02 PM EST
But, his agent says the organization has “respected our position of leaving negotiations until after the season.”
Feb 26, 2015, 1:42 PM EST
“We would love to have him as an Av for a long time.”
Feb 26, 2015, 1:09 PM EST
Willie Desjardins, playing it safe.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:02 PM EST
The two teams meet again, just 48 hours after the incident.
Feb 26, 2015, 12:43 PM EST
Just days after he said he’d report to AHL Norfolk.
Feb 26, 2015, 12:12 PM EST
Has 16 goals and 21 assists this season.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:48 AM EST
According to GM Dean Lombardi.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:42 AM EST
“I don’t think you’re going to see an overwhelming number of top-four guys who are going to be available, period.”
Feb 26, 2015, 11:32 AM EST
It’s also believed Montreal is keen on Oilers d-man Jeff Petry.
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