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.”
Jan 27, 2015, 4:26 PM EST
For the old barn in Anaheim.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:33 PM EST
He’ll play on the top line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey against the Rangers.
Jan 27, 2015, 3:11 PM EST
Kick off six straight games at Rogers Arena tonight versus Anaheim.
Goalie nods: Greiss starts for Pens, which has nothing to do with Fleury getting lit up at the All-Star Game
Jan 27, 2015, 2:27 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 27, 2015, 2:20 PM EST
“We know what the standings look like. That’s no secret. But we can’t make up all those points this week.”
Jan 27, 2015, 1:38 PM EST
We already knew he tried to use Seattle for the same purpose.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:23 PM EST
And so ends one of the most storied goaltending careers in NHL history.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:56 PM EST
Bill Peters sounds fed up.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:35 PM EST
Defending champs are just 20-15-12 after 47 games.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EST
After failing to find a trade partner for the 28-year-old.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:17 PM EST
Your move, Los Angeles.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:47 AM EST
“He wants to build for the long term and he understands that there is some suffering involved.”
Jan 27, 2015, 11:43 AM EST
Bob Murray wants a defenseman, according to pretty much everyone.
Jan 27, 2015, 11:12 AM EST
The worst of the storm was saved for New England.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
Get back into the swing of things.
Jan 27, 2015, 10:48 AM EST
“I’m still a little ways away. Hopefully I keep making the right strides.”
Jan 27, 2015, 9:41 AM EST
Update: Moving him might not be such a bad thing, really.
Jan 27, 2015, 8:28 AM EST
Tuesday’s snowy links.
Jan 27, 2015, 1:35 AM EST
He’ll likely start Tuesday paired with Dan Hamhuis.
Jan 27, 2015, 12:30 AM EST
Latvia could soon have another NHLer to cheer for.
- Martin Brodeur to retire, become Blues asst. GM (Updated) 27
- Mike Richards clears waivers 31
- Game on: Islanders-Rangers to be played despite storm 14
- Flyers’ Rinaldo suspended eight games for his hit on Letang 54
- Isles’ rise to be tested as they lose Okposo for 6-8 weeks 16
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards 123
- Bobrovsky out 4-6 weeks, Jackets recall goalie Forsberg 3
- Blue Jackets proud as Columbus shows it’s a hockey town 24
- From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year 17
- Columnist: Flyers ‘orchestrated’ fight night versus Pens during meal at ‘a local steakhouse’ (130)
- L.A. Sorry? Kings waive Mike Richards (123)
- Flyers’ Rinaldo: ‘I changed the whole game, man’ (112)
- Video: Rinaldo tossed for boarding Letang (79)
- Report: Flyers’ Rinaldo waives right to an in-person hearing (61)