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.”
Dec 28, 2014, 10:03 PM EST
Winnipeg recalled Patrice Cormier in case the power forward can’t play.
Dec 28, 2014, 8:57 PM EST
Head coach Claude Julien has some choice words for his team.
Dec 28, 2014, 8:09 PM EST
Florida’s breathing down Toronto’s neck in the East standings.
Dec 28, 2014, 7:05 PM EST
There are some concussion concerns.
Dec 28, 2014, 6:25 PM EST
Reto Berra might not see much action going forward.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Has been out of St. Louis’ lineup since Nov. 25.
Dec 28, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Playing for the first time since Nov. 4
Dec 28, 2014, 4:15 PM EST
Has missed three games with an upper body injury.
Dec 28, 2014, 3:30 PM EST
The forward will miss a few weeks with a lower body injury.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:45 PM EST
Recalled goaltender Christopher Gibson from AHL.
Dec 28, 2014, 2:00 PM EST
Kevin Poulin returned to Bridgeport.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:15 PM EST
Has missed the first 35 games of the season.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:30 PM EST
Boston’s Matt Fraser also on the waiver wire.
Dec 28, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Anton Forsberg reassigned to Springfield.
Dec 28, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
Rasmus Ristolainen is sick.
Dec 28, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
The Dallas forward has been suspended three times in two seasons.
Dec 28, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Expected to serve as an extra defenseman as the Canucks visit the Ducks.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:59 AM EST
Darryl Sutter must like what he sees with the advantage.
Dec 28, 2014, 1:03 AM EST
Dec 28, 2014, 12:36 AM EST
Meanwhile, the Rangers are playing OK.
- Cardiac Cats: Panthers win as Reimer, Leafs fade in third 4
- Report: Canes’ Jordan Staal to make season debut Monday 1
- ‘We can build on this': Devils lose with Lou Lamoriello behind the bench 7
- Video: Nyquist scores OT winner on incredible individual effort 8
- Video: Ovechkin crushes Letang, Capitals cruise by the Penguins 7
- Video: Prout, Lucic drop the gloves in highly anticipated scrap 73
- Video: NHL on NBC panel breaks down the coaching situation in New Jersey 4
- Lou Lamoriello unveils highly unorthodox coaching plan 37
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities 3
- NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins? 2