Skip to content

Five Q’s: Capitals-Rangers preview

May 2, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin and Carl Hagelin Getty Images

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.

Can Braden Holtby match Henrik Lundqvist?

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.”

For all the first-round playoff previews, click here.

Latest Posts
  1. Of course: ‘Hawks, Ducks’ back-and-forth series is going to Game 7

    May 27, 2015, 11:01 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Chicago endured Anaheim’s comeback attempt to win this one.

  2. Video: Goalie interference? Silfverberg bumps Crawford on Stoner goal

    May 27, 2015, 10:29 PM EDT

    Stoner goal

    The Ducks might have caught a break there.

  3. Video: Maroon stays hot in playoffs, gives Ducks hope

    May 27, 2015, 10:08 PM EDT

    Maroon goal

    He has seven goals in 15 playoff games.

  4. Video: Saad comes up short in first frame, opens floodgates in second

    May 27, 2015, 9:46 PM EDT

    Saad goal

    Chicago scored three goals within four minutes.

  5. Kings’ AHL team advances to Calder Cup Final

    May 27, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT

    Jordan Weal Getty Images

    Jordan Weal has been a big part of Manchester’s success.

  6. Voynov’s wife in counseling, still doesn’t want to testify

    May 27, 2015, 7:04 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzhzjmymgu1y2i3mgyxogjlmddmmte0zdlimze1mwjm AP

    She’s previously been warned that this course could lead to her being found in contempt.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 6

    May 27, 2015, 6:06 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptzinjawowi5ytdjzgvlogu3zwq0ndm4ywmxndq3zmu2 AP

    Anaheim has a chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final tonight.

  8. Ehrhoff likely headed to free agency

    May 27, 2015, 5:24 PM EDT

    Christian Ehrhoff Getty Images

    After just one year in Pittsburgh.

  9. McQuaid camp ‘holding out hope’ to re-sign with Bruins

    May 27, 2015, 4:16 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning Getty Images

    One of the many decisions facing new GM Don Sweeney.

  10. As Bolts deal with illness, extra day of rest could prove beneficial

    May 27, 2015, 3:49 PM EDT

    New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three Getty Images

    Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final goes Friday at MSG.

  11. Robinson calls DeBoer ‘a good choice’ for Sharks

    May 27, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT

    New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers - Game One Getty Images

    The two men worked together for a season in New Jersey.

  12. Etem likely to draw back in tonight versus Chicago

    May 27, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks Getty Images

    Tomas Fleischmann likely on his way out.

  13. Foley moves company to Vegas, hopes NHL sees him as ‘local owner’

    May 27, 2015, 2:21 PM EDT

    Hockey Vision Las Vegas News Conference To Announce NHL Season Ticket Drive Getty Images

    “We’re going to be embedded in this community.”

  14. Hitch thinks ‘goaltending is the least of our problems’

    May 27, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT

    Jake Allen AP

    “I get the fact there were three goals that went in that were ugly. That’s the growth of a young player.”

  15. On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’

    May 27, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT

    Rangers forward has had issues with it thus far.

  16. Report: Sharks to name DeBoer head coach

    May 27, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Peter DeBoer Getty Images

    Former Panthers and Devils coach will take over a team that missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

  17. Miller’s ‘attitude has been outstanding,’ says Brassard

    May 27, 2015, 12:13 PM EDT

    J.T. Miller, Derick Brassard AP

    Remember when AV called the youngster out?

Featured video

End of an era coming for Blackhawks?
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. M. Zuccarello (3866)
  2. H. Lundqvist (2499)
  3. S. Stamkos (2191)
  4. B. Bishop (1775)
  5. M. Carle (1623)
  1. M. Beleskey (1601)
  2. R. Nash (1592)
  3. M. Babcock (1498)
  4. N. Horton (1429)
  5. A. Vermette (1359)