Everyone recovered from watching the triple overtime loss to the Rangers in game three? Good because now the Capitals have to bounce back and tie the series back up at two games a side. As I mentioned before game three, this Eastern Conference Semifinals series is all about who can convert prime scoring opportunities. The puck luck went the Rangers’ way in game three. The Caps need to create some of their own luck in game four.
- The pace of game three was something we have not seen in the 10 previous playoff games played this Spring by the Caps. It was a fun but very nerve-racking game to watch, regardless of the three OT periods it required. Under Dale Hunter, the Caps have been successful by dictating a slower, defensive pace. They should try to return to that style in game four. Especially, with Marian Gaborik emerging as the game three hero for the Rangers. The Caps don’t want to play run-and-gun hockey with the Rangers’ top scoring threats in Gaborik and Brad Richards.
- While Jay Beagle was thrust into the spotlight as a playoffs role player in the first half of these Stanley Cup playoffs, Matt Hendricks stole it in game three. Hendricks went into “beast mode” by punishing the New York Rangers physically and setting up his linemates with prime scoring chances. At times, it looked like he was everywhere on the ice. I think in his mind he was saying, “Every puck is mine.” While he was on the ice, it quite literally, was. As a puck possession line, Beagle, Brouwer, and Hendricks could do some damage in game four.
- Similarly, Alex Ovechkin looked like a very motivated hockey player. After registering an average shift length of 46 seconds in game two, Ovi was given 57 seconds of ice time on the average by Dale Hunter as the Caps held the last change on home ice. Ovechkin responded to the increased time and to the critics of his limited time in game two. Ovi almost ended the game in overtime but the rolling puck he picked up all alone in front of Henrik Lundqvist hit the post.
- Ovechkin’s almost game winner combined with Brouwer’s miss in overtime and a Semin crossbar shot off of King Henrik’s glove looked like a swing in hockey karma and puck luck back in the Rangers’ favor. As long as the Caps keep getting these types of chances, there’s no need to worry. Eventually, those pucks find the back of the net.
- Braden Holtby hasn’t lost 2 games in a row in these playoffs. Let’s see how the kid steps up in game four.
- There are two sides to a loss in extended overtime. Some will say it’s a huge momentum shift in favor of the winners. Others will say that it’s just another game and there is still hockey to be played. Here’s to hoping the Caps stay focused on winning Saturday because they can.
Just like the Boston series, the Capitals need to even up the series with the Rangers, on home ice. Heading back to Madison Square Garden down two games is really not an option. Survive and advance.