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. Quenneville plans to start Richards between Saad and Kane in Chicago

    Sep 19, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    Joel Quenneville AP

    Hopes to find the right fit on his second line.

  2. Bordeleau (back) out about three months, others Avs limp into camp

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Colorado Avalanche v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    Jamie McGinn and John Mitchell also rank among the already-wounded.

  3. Bruins GM on Krug, Smith: ‘They’re not going anywhere’

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT

    Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron, Justin Florek, Reilly Smith, Kevan Miller AP

    Peter Chiarelli also (kinda sorta) addressed Johnny Boychuk rumors.

  4. Ouch: Wild reportedly suspend Harding for ‘non-hockey injury’

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:07 PM EDT

    Josh Harding AP

    He won’t be paid or count against the cap while he’s injured.

  5. Selanne regrets harsh words toward Boudreau

    Sep 18, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v Anaheim Ducks - Game Seven Getty Images

    Maybe the English version of his book will be kinder?

  6. Columbus reacts to Horton (back) being out indefinitely

    Sep 18, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Dallas Stars v Columbus Blue Jackets Getty Images

    At least the Blue Jackets’ GM is ruling out surgery.

  7. Flyers’ Timonen admits chances of playing are ‘really slim’

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:51 PM EDT

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    He’ll miss at least months, GM Ron Hextall said.

  8. Jagr: ‘I want to play until 50′

    Sep 18, 2014, 3:16 PM EDT

    Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac AP

    Hey, he’s got less than eight years to go.

  9. Desjardins (a.k.a. not Torts) makes good first impression on Canucks

    Sep 18, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    Willie Desjardins AP

    “I don’t think I had a conversation with Torts until Christmas last year.”

  10. Silent Blue: Armstrong will no longer comment on Schwartz

    Sep 18, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Doug Armstrong AP

    “The next time I’ll talk publicly about Jaden is when we sign him.”

  11. Rangers to name new captain at end of camp

    Sep 18, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    McDonagh

    And it’s probably going to be Ryan McDonagh.

  12. Eakin, Dillon still without contracts in Dallas

    Sep 18, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

    Cody Eakin, Corey Perry AP

    Two key youngsters on a Stars team with high hopes.

  13. Veteran d-man Lee going to Preds camp on PTO

    Sep 18, 2014, 12:06 PM EDT

    Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders Getty Images

    Former first-round pick missed extensive time to a torn ACL.

  14. Ex-1st rounder Barker goes full circle, will attend ‘Hawks camp

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

    Cam Barker AP

    Remember him? Taken 3rd overall in 2004… behind Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. R. Johansen (2314)
  2. J. Harding (1951)
  3. D. Alfredsson (1560)
  4. S. Crosby (1400)
  5. J. Quick (1355)
  1. D. Kuemper (1306)
  2. S. Bennett (1265)
  3. A. Ovechkin (1104)
  4. B. Schenn (1084)
  5. J. Tootoo (1050)