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.”
Apr 20, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT
The Bruins are one of the most effective teams in the league with the man advantage.
Apr 20, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT
He was pulled late in Friday’s game.
Apr 20, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
The contest will start at 12:00 p.m. ET.
Apr 20, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
He has seven points in his first two playoff games.
Apr 20, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
With a two-goal lead, Pittsburgh had four forwards on during a power play, which proved to be the turning point of this game.
Apr 20, 2014, 9:06 AM EDT
Meanwhile the Lightning are in a dangerous position.
Apr 20, 2014, 1:15 AM EDT
“You can’t defend on your heels,” Ryan Suter said.
Apr 20, 2014, 12:35 AM EDT
Colorado overcomes some strange officiating late in Game 2.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:56 PM EDT
Colorado’s rookie sensation is inspiring some bold words.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:19 PM EDT
Colorado might want to keep Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon together.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:54 PM EDT
Special teams factored in.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:37 PM EDT
Apr 19, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
The defenseman last played in the first period.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
He’s clearly not wilting in the postseason spotlight.
Apr 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Columbus has been in the NHL since the 2000-01 season.
Apr 19, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
More magic from Paul Stastny?
Apr 19, 2014, 8:36 PM EDT
Quite a busy 2:26 of ice time.
Apr 19, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT
“I have to be better.”
Apr 19, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT
The Blues coach mostly pleads the fifth.
Apr 19, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT
His play may wind up costing him a suspension.
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- Flyers’ Mason out of Game 2, Emery to start again 51
- Lucic fined $5,000 for spearing DeKeyser 80
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