- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

No. 2 WASHINGTON CAPITALS at No. 7 NEW YORK RANGERS

Capitals lines

FORWARDS

First line

Alex Ovechkin

Nicklas Backstrom

Viktor Kozlov

Second line

Brooks Laich

Sergei Fedorov

Alexander Semin

Third line

Tomas Fleischmann

Michael Nylander

Eric Fehr

Fourth line

David Steckel

Boyd Gordon

Matt Bradley

DEFENSEMEN

First pair

Shaone Morrisonn

Mike Green

Second pair

Tom Poti

Milan Jurcina

Third pair

John Erskine

Brian Pothier

GOALIES

Jose Theodore

Simeon Varlamov

Extras: D Jeff Schultz, RW Chris Clark, LW Donald Brashear

SPOTLIGHT ON:

Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin

Last season’s MVP was great in Game 1, firing 13 shots on net, helping create two goals and leveling several big hits. His impact was muted a bit in Game 2. Maybe the Caps can rescue this series from the brink of disaster with secondary scoring and great goaltending, but it is more likely that they’re going to need a transcendent effort from No. 8. He has done it before at Madison Square Garden (see Dec. 23, 2008), and Monday night would be a good time to do it again.

Rangers lines

Forwards

First line

Sean Avery

Scott Gomez

Nik Antropov

Second line

Markus Naslund

Chris Drury

Ryan Callahan

Third line

Lauri Korpikoski

Brandon Dubinsky

Nikolai Zherdev

Fourth line

Fredrik Sjostrom

Blair Betts

Colton Orr

Defensemen

First pair

Wade Redden

Michal Rozsival

Second pair

Marc Staal

Dan Girardi

Third pair

Paul Mara

Derek Morris

Goalies

Henrik Lundqvist

Stephen Valiquette

Extra: RW Aaron Voros

SPOTLIGHT ON:

C Blair Betts

Betts has played a little more than 21 minutes in this series, less than Michal Rozsival, Wade Redden, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green logged in either game. Yet he has been an invaluable member of the Rangers’ defense in front of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. He has nine blocked shots, one less than the entire Caps team had in Game 1. Should the Rangers continue their tactics of getting in the way of Washington’s shots en masse, it just might frustrate the Caps enough to help the Rangers take a nearly insurmountable lead.

STORY LINES

1. A KING BEATS FOUR ACES?

To this point in the series, that has been true. “King Henrik” and the Rangers’ defense have been able to slow Washington’s “Young Guns.” Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin have combined for one goal. While Backstrom and Ovechkin helped create two others in Game 1, none of those four were particularly impressive in New York’s Game 2 shutout. Sure, the Caps haven’t received much from the grinders, but they’re going to need more from this quartet to make this series interesting again.

2. STABILITY OR SHUFFLE?

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau went to his 20-year-old rookie goaltender in Game 2, and Simeon Varlamov stopped 23 of 24 shots in a tough-luck loss. So now what? Does Boudreau go back to the guy he called his No. 1 goaltender in Jose Theodore for Game 3 in a hostile environment, or did Varlamov’s performance earn him another start? If the one Boudreau picks doesn’t play well, he’s going to receive a lot of criticism.

3. A GARDEN GALA

Madison Square Garden can produce some of the most raucous crowds in the NHL, so what do the patrons have in store for Game 3? With the Rangers returning home with a surprising 2-0 lead, expect the fans to be in a frenzy. The Rangers can all but end this series with a win, and the New York fans are going to do all that they can to impact this one.

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