May 2, 2013, 11:51 AM EDT
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.”
Aug 27, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT
The defenseman had 34 points in 66 OHL games last season.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:58 PM EDT
He might end up with a two-year deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:21 PM EDT
He’s entering the final season of his five-year, $22 million deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 6:48 PM EDT
Playoff seeding will be determined by points percentage.
Aug 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
It could prove to be a bargain deal.
Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT
The Penguins are a win now team coming off of a quick first round exit.
Aug 27, 2015, 2:55 PM EDT
Can they stay healthy?
Aug 27, 2015, 2:06 PM EDT
“I’m fully aware that at some point in time we may have to address that position.”
Aug 27, 2015, 1:15 PM EDT
At which time he’ll be reevaluated.
Aug 27, 2015, 12:17 PM EDT
The two have a bit of a history, as you may recall…
Aug 27, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
It’s a benchmark he’s never hit before.
Aug 27, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
The 21-year-old looks like he’ll be counted upon heavily.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:48 AM EDT
For a border incident that occurred in mid-June.
Aug 27, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT
A first round exit has led to a busy summer.
Aug 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Aug 26, 2015, 9:32 PM EDT
Development coach Patrick Rissmiller is among New Jersey’s latest additions.
Aug 26, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
His conditioning comes on the ice, not in the weight room.
Aug 26, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT
Two terrible seasons didn’t dissuade fans expecting brighter days ahead.
Aug 26, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT
Philadelphia has a great core, but does it have the depth?
Aug 26, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Tanking isn’t likely, yet may it be wise?
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- Pens’ plan for now: Crosby starts as Kessel’s center 25
- O, Dear: Russia fined $85K for skipping Canadian anthem 28
- Kings ink Ehrhoff to a one-year, $1.5 million deal 27
- Quebec City, Vegas advance to final phase of NHL expansion process 50
- Here’s the full NHL 2015 preseason schedule, starting Sept. 20 5
- Wild assistant Sydor arrested for suspected drunk driving, child endangerment 30
- It’s Montreal Canadiens day at PHT 14
- Capitals’ biggest question: Is this finally the year? 32