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Ovechkin: Capitals’ top line has to play better

May 9, 2013, 12:02 AM EDT

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 8: Derek Stepan #21 of the New York Rangers celebrates his third period goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 8, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images) Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have squandered a 2-0 series lead and the New York Rangers seem to have gained some momentum. After being limited to just one goal in their first two games, New York has beaten goaltender Braden Holtby eight times to even the series.

Still, neither team has won on the road yet, and unless the Rangers can do that, Washington will take this series.

“We’ll go home and play against them with our fans, in our building,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin told the media, “so it’s going to be much, I hope, much better for us.”

It’s worth noting that both of these teams were strong at home during the regular season, but mediocre on the road.

Ovechkin was also asked what the Rangers have been doing to limit him to just a goal and an assist in four games.

“I think our line have to play better,” Ovechkin answered.

Going into this series, Ovechkin was on a tear with 22 goals in 21 games.

You can watch Ovechkin’s full postgame press conference below:

  1. mp1113 - May 9, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    Everyone but the 3rd line needs to play better. Riberio has been a ghost and isn’t a threat on the pp right now. Huge game Friday. Go Cap!

    • blackfoot11 - May 9, 2013 at 9:53 AM

      The Caps need to continue to put pucks on net. They were better at doing so in Game 3. At times they look to pass instead of shooting or driving the net (ex. Ward drive with Perreault’s rebound goal) Oates will get this thing corrected. Looking forward to Game 5. Go Caps!

  2. caps4cup - May 9, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    Lets go caps. Lets win this

  3. ravenscaps48 - May 9, 2013 at 1:34 AM

    You don’t say

  4. operwapitsai - May 9, 2013 at 4:06 AM

    team just needs some energy. nyr just out-worked and out-hustled them the last two games, plain and simple

  5. watermelon1 - May 9, 2013 at 7:48 AM

    It kind of helps if the referees would stop making up stuff, and possibly penalizing rangers for after whistle stuff.

    Caps getting put in the box for clean hits, and rangers allowed to hit after goals and icing and keep playing.

    Sure, Caps are horrible at making passes on point. Green couldn’t deliver a pick into ovechkins strike zone if his life depended on it. Which is the major reason they’re not getting many shots on net. But still… Doesn’t mean the refs have to keep them playing down a man(or two) the whole game.

    • magicrat13 - May 9, 2013 at 8:01 AM

      seriously?…..i admit there have been missed calls on both sides, but overall i think the refs have done a decent job calling the games….it should be noted the rangers were the least penalized team in the league this year…unless you think it is all a big conspiracy by all the referees…

    • jpelle82 - May 9, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      i really hope you’re not talking about chimera diving on a soft cross check last night. after ovechkin sold that high stick in game 3, caps arent gonna be getting the benefit of the doubt anymore. i thought they were calling it pretty straight, i will say though that ovechkin check on erat shouldve been just the charge, erat didnt deserve anything on that one

    • stakex - May 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      The “cross check” on Chimera was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. He got hit in the arm, and flopped down grabbing his face… ooops. If anything, the Caps are lucky he didn’t get two for terrible acting.

      I don’t really get why so many Caps fans are whining about the penelties, or lack there of. All the calls, aside from the charge on Ovechkin, were decent calls last night. There were missed calls both ways, but nothing mind blowing. The fact of the matter is the Rangers were the least penelized team in the NHL during the season, and the Caps were just so-so in that catagory. That probably has a lot to do with why the Rangers have had a slight advantage in power plays… that and the fact that have out skated, and out played the Caps pretty bad the last two games.

  6. jkulha86 - May 9, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    Would also help if Ovechkin didn’t injure is on players. Just ask Martin Erat.

  7. rsl22 - May 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    There are a couple ways to look at this series:

    1) The Caps played like absolute garbage for about 75% of both game 3 and game 4. But they still had a chance to tie both at the end. Holtby also was pretty bad in games 3 and 4. If the Caps can play well for around 50% of the game, and Holtby plays marginally well, then the Caps could easily win game 5.

    2) Perhaps the Caps played so poorly because the Rangers have indeed figured out a way to shut down Ovechkin, when no one else really could for the last month and a half. If it wasn’t just the Caps playing terrible hockey, but was actually the Rangers playing really solid defense, then the Caps won’t win this series.

    Also, I’d love for Neuvirth to start game 5. I know that won’t happen, but it’d be a good time to do it.

    • jpelle82 - May 9, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      i dont disagree with your holtby assessment in game 3 and 4 – the numbers dont support him “playing well”…but…he has made some big saves and he has kept them in it. i think he benefitted from some serious puck luck in games 1 and 2, he looks the same as he did in those games, the rangers just werent getting the bounces like they are now.

      ovechkin needs to shoot more. i dont know why he has decided to start passing too much again but he is making the ranger’s life a whole lot easier. i counted 3 good shot opportunities on the pp last night that he did not take. granted, they are shading him exclusively over there but he still hasnt done anything to get open or find a lane to shoot through. he literally just stands there while green and ribeiro pass it back and forth. he made one or two attempts to move his feet but ended up right back to the same spot with a man standing right next to him, not moving his feet either.

  8. cruuuzcontrol - May 9, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    Yeah? That starts with you, Coasty McCherryPicker.

  9. sheppyshep8 - May 9, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    The ‘top’ line hasn’t been the problem as much as the ‘top’ player has.

    Anyone who watches Ovechkin’s play progress from period to period can see that his game is primarily dependent on how involved he is early in the game. If he doesn’t score, or at least record a point…or his team does not get ahead early and stay ahead, his desire and energy level seems to plummet.

    You would think that after gaining a 2-0 series lead, getting points in both games, throwing his weight around, getting involved in every shift…there would be some fire, some urgency, to continue that in games 3 and 4. But aside from the early goal in game 3, he’s been MIA. The Rangers have figured out something in his play that stunts him early on in games, and they know that shutting him down early will cause his lack of energy to snowball.

    Ovechkin’s total stat line for games 3 and 4:

    0 goals
    0 assists
    -2 rating
    4 PIMs
    3 shots
    2 hits

    Aside from the goose-egg in the points columns, anytime Ovechkin has just 3 shots, and 2 hits, in 2 full playoff games, his team is more than likely going to hang another one in the ‘L’ column.

    He needs to bring the punch early in game 5, get involved, and often. Or else this will be Rangers in 6 in the blink of an eye.

  10. stakex - May 9, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    People are looking at this all wrong. A large part of the reason Ovechkin was so hot over the last couple months is because his linemates were also finding the back of the net. Their line was so dangerous as a whole, teams couldn’t cheat on Ovechkin and it allowed him to find space.

    In this series however, Johansson and Backstrom have been invisible. When they have had chances they have passed them up, or failed to cash in. This has allowed the Ragners to play semi-double coverage on Ovechkin, and he simply has no space to do anything. Perhaps he could do a bit more to find space, but its really the vanishing act by Johansson and Backstrom thats killing that line.

    It also has to be said that McD and Girardi have done a great job against Ovechkin, and part of the reason his line is cold has to do with them.

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