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.”
Nov 25, 2014, 3:31 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Nov 25, 2014, 3:31 PM EST
“I would rather fight than turtle or anything like that.”
Nov 25, 2014, 2:36 PM EST
This is… surprising.
Nov 25, 2014, 2:25 PM EST
Cory Schneider to “see what kind of player he is” tonight.
Nov 25, 2014, 2:01 PM EST
The Blue Jackets, Flyers, Avalanche, Stars, and Sharks all made the playoffs last season. But they’re not in position now.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:47 PM EST
GM Dale Tallon reportedly wants to make room for some youngsters.
Nov 25, 2014, 1:25 PM EST
For the first time since Nov. 1.
Nov 25, 2014, 12:38 PM EST
That’s a picture of former first-rounder Alex Plante.
Nov 25, 2014, 12:28 PM EST
Pointless in 17 games this season.
Nov 25, 2014, 12:01 PM EST
So says Patrick Roy.
Nov 25, 2014, 11:34 AM EST
Isles were the biggest risers.
Nov 25, 2014, 10:43 AM EST
“Of course, I’m not too happy.”
Nov 25, 2014, 9:55 AM EST
“So I won’t be playing that much next game, I don’t think.”
Nov 25, 2014, 8:59 AM EST
They’re drawing just 12,404 fans per game.
Nov 25, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Tuesday’s collection of links.
Nov 24, 2014, 11:54 PM EST
“I understand the business.”
Nov 24, 2014, 10:32 PM EST
Steve Mason stole a point for Philly tonight.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:59 PM EST
The Bruins manage a point via that 3-2 OT loss.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:31 PM EST
It’s been a rough ride since he signed with Detroit.
Nov 24, 2014, 9:01 PM EST
They enter the third period tied with Pittsburgh 2-2.
- On the odds of fighting back after Thanksgiving 2
- Why are the Oilers still bad? Look at their drafting 9
- The Leafs are worth almost seven times the Panthers, says Forbes 11
- Isles make some history; Are the Flyers headed for trouble? 40
- Crosby, Malkin power Penguins, help Fleury grab 300th win 5
- Sooner than later? Bruins GM hopes Chara can return in 10-14 days 1
- With worst save percentage in NHL, Oilers fire goalie coach 22
- Pat Quinn, ‘one of hockey’s most respected individuals,’ has died 14
- NHL on NBCSN: Bruins seek perfect game vs. Penguins 8
- Legendary hockey coach Viktor Tikhonov has died 15
- Video: Milan Lucic calls Dalton Prout one-punch ‘gutless’ (99)
- Prout drops Lucic: ‘As far as I was concerned we were engaged in a fight’ (88)
- The Leafs didn’t salute their fans last night, so that’s a thing now (79)
- Jack Johnson filed for bankruptcy, parents allegedly took advantage of him (58)
- After Voynov suspension, Lombardi wonders if teams need a ‘cushion’ in case a player is a ‘bank robber, kleptomaniac’ (51)