2013 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS
(3) WASHINGTON CAPITALS VS. (6) NEW YORK RANGERS
Game 1: 7:30 Thursday at Verizon Center. Game 2: 12:30 Saturday at Verizon Center. Game 3: 7:30 Monday, May 6 at Madison Square Garden. Game 4: 7:30 Wednesday, May 8 at Madison Square Garden. Game 5*: Friday, May 10 at Verizon Center. Game 6*: Sunday, May 12 at Madison Square Garden. Game 7*: Monday, May 13 at Verizon Center.
1. Contrasting Styles
Unlike Dale Hunter hockey, what coach Adam Oates has the Capitals playing is much different than John Tortorella’s shot-blocking style. Last year, there wasn’t a whole lot of entertainment, but the Caps’ aggressive forecheck and opportunistic offense should improve that. It’ll be an interesting chess match in Washington’s defensive zone, too, as the Rangers’ pressure will test the Caps, who like to keep their defensemen from getting hit a lot.
2. Emphasis on Ovechkin
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi could play 30-plus minutes every game, as Tortorella matches his top pair up with the Caps’ first line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Ovechkin scored 22 goals in his final 21 games, and he’s more than a point-a-game performer in the playoffs, so the Caps need that kind of production to continue.
3. Holtby vs. Lundqvist
Braden Holtby is 5-6-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in his NHL career against the Rangers. He’s one of the major reasons the Caps even pushed New York to seven games a year ago. Henrik Lundqvist won that series, and even though the Rangers have more offense this time, he’ll have to be great to beat the Caps.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Capitals’ second line of Martin Erat, Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer vs. Rangers’ second pairing of Michael Del Zotto and Anton Stralman
When the Caps’ offensive stars are on the ice against the Rangers’ shutdown defensemen, it’s strength vs. strength. It’s up to Erat, Ribeiro and Brouwer to take advantage of what could be a favorable matchup against Del Zotto and Stralman, or even Steve Eminger and John Moore.
“Obviously our line wants to help that top line and create confusion on how to play against us or which Ds you’re going to put against Ovi,” Ribeiro said. “And for us it’s to help that line just create offense, create scoring chances.”
If Erat finds a groove and Brouwer maintains his scoring touch from the regular season, the Rangers might have to consider splitting up McDonagh and Girardi. If that happens, Oates will have won in a big way.
LINES, PAIRINGS AND INJURIES
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Martin Erat – Mike Ribeiro – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Mathieu Perreault – Eric Fehr
Aaron Volpatti – Matt Hendricks – Jay Beagle OR Matt Hendricks – Jay Beagle – Joel Ward
Karl Alzner – Mike Green
John Erskine – John Carlson
Jack Hillen – Steve Oleksy
F Joel Ward (left knee, questionable for Game 1), F Brooks Laich (groin, out indefinitely)
Carl Hagelin – Derek Stepan – Ryan Callahan
Rick Nash – Brad Richards – Mats Zuccarello
Taylor Pyatt – Derick Brassard – Chris Kreider
Darroll Powe – Michael Haley – Kris Newbury
Ryan McDonagh – Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto – Anton Stralman
John Moore – Steve Eminger
F Derek Dorsett (broken clavicle, questionable for series), C Brian Boyle (right knee, status uncertain), F Ryan Clowe (undisclosed/possible concussion, status uncertain)