Entering the Eastern Conference Semifinals series with the New York Rangers, the Caps stuck to their game plan from round one of surviving the opponent’s pushes and capitalizing on their mistakes. It appears that in the New York Rangers, the Capitals are facing another even match-up. Winning games in this series will come down to which team can find more consistent play, stick to their game plans, and take advantage of opportunities. We’re in for another long series, folks.
- On the road, it seems the en vogue thing to do in the NHL is “bend but don’t break”. The Rangers pushed hard in the first 10 minutes of each period. So far, weathering the storm has worked for the Caps and Braden Holtby has bailed them out when needed. How long can this last in the modern NHL that favors run and gun hockey?
- With each game, the Caps’ role players like Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, Matt Hendricks, Mike Knuble, and Joel Ward seem to get more hungry. They make the little plays that support the Hunter game plan. Look for more plays like Chimera using his speed to score goals or Mike Knuble beating out an icing to keep the clock moving late in a game.
- There was much belly aching about Ovi’s ice time. I’m in the “play your best guys unless they’re injured” camp. However, there is something to be said for using Alex Ovechkin in an efficient way. Ovechkin skated 18 shifts at an average of 45 seconds per shift, for 13:36 total ice time. When he was on the ice, it looked like he had some room to make plays. He was able to gain the middle of the ice a few times and had a couple of chances go awry due to bouncing pucks on the horrible Madison Square Garden ice. Ovechkin was able to convert on the power play by moving to the high slot area and throwing a puck on net. In games three and four, as the home team, the Caps will have the right to last change and get the match-ups they want. This should favor Ovi’s ice time and his ability to find open ice.
- In game one, the Caps hit a couple posts that likely would have changed the outcome of the game had the puck found the twine. Game two saw the iron sing in favor of the Capitals a few times. I’m a big believer in hockey karma. Hopefully, everything is balanced now.
The Washington Capitals can take an early lead in this series. They return home to the Verizon Center having accomplished another vital split on the road. Ovi and the Caps silenced the critics at MSG. It’s time for them to rock the red.