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.”
Apr 28, 2015, 12:04 AM EDT
It’s also tough to say what happens next.
Apr 27, 2015, 11:16 PM EDT
Barry Trotz says he has the joy of a kid and the maturity of a man.
Apr 27, 2015, 10:33 PM EDT
Apr 27, 2015, 10:17 PM EDT
Washington shuts it down, big time.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT
Some great individual performances propel Tampa Bay.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:36 PM EDT
Game 7 is one of those “let them play” games.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:02 PM EDT
No penalty on the play.
Apr 27, 2015, 8:23 PM EDT
Apr 27, 2015, 7:47 PM EDT
Tampa Bay needed a strong start like this.
Apr 27, 2015, 7:22 PM EDT
Just one appearance in this series.
Apr 27, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT
Tough to argue with this two-way trio.
Apr 27, 2015, 6:16 PM EDT
One Game 7 and one team hoping to force another.
Apr 27, 2015, 5:28 PM EDT
Tom Stillman did say “I’m sure there’ll be changes” following another first-round playoff defeat.
Apr 27, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT
Expected to make full recovery within 4-6 weeks.
Apr 27, 2015, 4:11 PM EDT
Former Maple Leaf and Red Wing appeared in over 1,200 career games, winning five Stanley Cups.
Apr 27, 2015, 3:11 PM EDT
Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis were each asked if they’d be willing to waive their no-trade clauses.
Apr 27, 2015, 2:47 PM EDT
Flames head coach Bob Hartley confirmed the decision on Monday.
Apr 27, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Tournament will be a big one for the Flyers forward.
Apr 27, 2015, 1:17 PM EDT
Thus ending the Scott Darling era… for now.
Apr 27, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
New building could open by the fall of 2017.
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