Lesser-Known Key Players in the Lightning-Capitals series

We all know that guys like Ovechkin, Stamkos, Semin, St. Louis, etc. are going to have a huge impact on this series so I thought a fun idea would be to look at some other players who I feel will be key parts in this series since there’s actually a few, especially on the Lightning.

Washington:

Marcus Johansson


4 points in the first round and he usually gets moved around on the first three lines but he usually does well when given good linemates. Still has some brutal corsi and face-off numbers but I honestly don’t see why whenever I watch him. He’s shown to be good in his own zone and has some solid playmaking skills so I think he will be a factor in this series.

Brooks Laich


Had the most shorthanded ice-time among forwards in the Rangers series and was given a lot of defensive assignments (33.9 OZ start%) but he was placed on the top line for game 5 in place of Mike Knuble. The status of Knuble is still up in the air so Laich could get more time on that line and we might see him get his first goal of the post-season. If not, his penalty killing has been outstanding and it’s good to have someone who can win defensive zone face-offs like he can. We might see more of that if Nicklas Backstrom scoring troubles continue.

Boyd Gordon


Like Laich (hah), he’s an excellent penalty killer and was buried with defensive zone starts in the Rangers series with only 10% of his starts coming in the offensive zone. Also somehow managed to get 11 shots on goal despite that. Also, 21/36 on defensive zone faceoffs. That’s pretty damn good.

John Erskine


Had the best corsi rating on the team against the Rangers and actually played really well in his own zone. Wonder if it’s because he’s possibly battling for ice time with Dennis Wideman returning? You can never have too many d-men playing well, though. Which brings me to my next player…

Scott Hannan


Only on ice for one goal allowed against the Rangers and has gotten the most ice time out of anyone on the Capitals. Him and Jeff Schultz were also on ice for the least amount of shots per game. Now why these two weren’t playing as a tandem for most of the series is what I’m wondering but Schultz/Green haven’t been bad either.

Tampa Bay

Sean Bergenheim


Tampa Bay’s best forward in terms of balanced corsi during the regular season, which is probably because he gets a lot of defensive zone starts and usually does a good job at moving the puck in the right direction. He had 14 goals and 15 assists this season and three goals against Pittsburgh. Guys who can kill penalties and still contribute offensively like him are pretty key in the playoffs.

Dominic Moore


I’m sure we know all about this guy from the Montreal series last year. He also plays in a defensive role but still put up points. He’s also a good face-off guy and has shown some decent play-making skills. It should also be noted that him and Bergenheim usually play on a line together and they do well against weaker competition (aka 3rd line/defense pairing).

Ryan Malone


Has prior playoff experience and still a pretty dangerous scorer. He was kind of forgotten about this year with injuries issues and guys like Stamkos and St. Louis lighting up the scoresheet but the Caps shouldn’t look over him at all in this series. I know his numbers are underwhelming but I think he will make an impact. Just watch game 6 against Pittsburgh.

Eric Brewer


Plays in every situation and also has past playoff experience. He also was arguably the Lightning’s best defenseman in the first round. He led them in ice time and had 5 points. He doesn’t exactly play the role of a shut-down guy but one thing the Lightning lacked all season was depth on the pack end and a guy who could move the puck aside from Kubina. He has given them just that.

Brett Clark


Has a great shot and was on ice for only one goal against. Him and Victor Hedman have been pretty solid as a pairing in the playoffs but it’s interesting that Clark hasn’t been contributing offensively yet considering his potential. This is why I would keep an eye on him.

Steve Downie


Let’s see…an agitating winger who can still score a lot of goals, will see a lot of ice-time and has a history of past incidents against the Caps. Yep, sounds like someone to worry about.

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NHL Semi-Final Predictions

I’ve only got a few hours before game time so I’ll make this quick.

Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

I already wrote a brief statistical overview of the series and judging from that, this series will be a lot closer than most think. It seems that a lot of people are thinking that this will be an easy series for the Caps but it’s easy to forget that the Lightning were a slightly better team at even strength this season and have shut out the Capitals twice. It’s also easy to discount the experience of players like Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Simon Gagne who have been to the playoffs many times before and will be a big factor for the Bolts in this series. The Caps played some fantastic defense in their series against the Rangers but this forward corps has a lot more firepower in it.

That said, the Caps did a great job at limiting Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis during the regular season (2 goals, 6 points between the two of them) and the Lightning’s defense is pretty suspect (surrendered over 30 shots per game against Pitt) so the Caps should be fine if they can have a better offensive showing than they did last series. The Lightning are a team that is hard to outscore with the system they play in so it’s important for the Caps to score early and not fall behind in these games like they did against New York.

I still see Dwayne Roloson as the biggest factor in this series. As I have noted several times, he’s capable of stealing any game for the Lightning just like Lundqvist is for the Rangers and the Caps are going to need to get to the front of the net to score against him. Also of note is that the Lightning’s powerplay hasn’t been that great despite all of the potential there (when your team has to sign Marc-Andre Bergeron to help out then there’s a problem) and the Caps have a distinct advantage on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Washington will need to get to Roloson and jump on the Lightning early (much like they did in game 5 against the Rangers) if they want to win this series and they are fully capable of doing that so I think Washington will advance. Capitals in 6

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins

Both of these teams were taken to seven games in the first round but it should be noted that the Flyers outplayed the Sabres in nearly every game and lost due to bad penalties and terrible performances by Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher (along with great performances from Ryan Miller). The Bruins struggled to control play against Montreal and have a much weaker forward and defensive corps than Philadelphia and it will show in this series.

The Flyers biggest issues are that they lack consistency and have some pretty brutal goaltending compared to Boston and Tim Thomas. However, Brian Boucher did play well against Buffalo aside from when he was pulled in game 5 and he should be fine if he can stop all of the shots he’s supposed to, which is always a concern with him. Getting Chris Pronger back should also help the Flyers both defensively and on the powerplay. The Flyers powerplay was bad..but Boston’s was even worse in the first round scoring zero goals.

In the end, I have to side with Philly on this one. There is just too much talent there and when they are on, they are probably the best team in the East but that team has only showed up a few times in the last month. Regardless, they should be able to advance past Boston. That and I don’t have too much confidence in a team with zero powerplay goals. Flyers in 6

Vancouver Canucks vs. Nashville Predators

Yes, the Canucks blew a 3-0 lead and were taken to 7 games by an 8 seed but the Blackhawks were probably one of the strongest 8 seeds in recent memory. Nashville is a better team than Anaheim but they do not match up that well with Vancouver and will need to avoid taking costly penalties if they want to win this series. It would also help if Rinne regained his regular season form because he wasn’t that good against Anaheim. Vancouver had their problems against Chicago and one of which was relying too much on their top two lines to create offense (see game 4-6) resulting in some ridiculous ice times. If they let guys like Chris Higgins, Max Lapierre and Cody Hodgson have more ice time, I think it will play a factor in this series since Nashville’s lower defense pairs were very shaky against Anaheim.

The only way I see the Preds pulling off the upset here is if Rinne can regain his form from the regular season and if Shea Weber and Ryan Suter can really shut-down the Sedins. Duncan Keith had his problems against them but these two have been a better tandem this seasons o we’ll see what happens. The Preds are a good team but they kind of have an unfavorable matchup here. Canucks in 6

San Jose Sharks vs. Detroit Red Wings

Probably the toughest series to predict. The Sharks ousted the Wings in five games last year but this team looks a little weaker than that and the Wings look a lot stronger, too. It’s a little hard for me to imagine that Red Wings coughing up leads like the Kings did but I also think the Kings have a better defense than Detroit and I don’t think Jimmy Howard will have a lot 50+ save performances in him. However, Niemi really struggled for San Jose against LA and I think that will continue against Detroit. Same with the Sharks defense having a lot of gaffes which I think Detroit will make them pay for.

This one really could go either way but the fact that the Sharks have three solid lines contributing could go a long way in this series and the playoffs but I think the Red Wings still have the edge here. The only thing that doesn’t exactly work in their favor is that Howard has struggled against the Sharks in the past. Red Wings in 6

A statistical look at the Caps-Lightning series

The Caps should be familiar with their second round opponent since it’s none other than their Southeastern Divisional foe the Tampa Bay Lightning.  I’m going to skip over most of the “getting to know your opponent” stuff since I’m sure most Caps fans know all about the Lightning and instead over the next day, I’ll be going into more depth about some things about the team and certain matchups I want to highlight. First, let’s take a look at the season series between the two teams to get a general idea of how they match up:

Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Total
Caps Goals 6 6 0 0 5 1 18
Lightning Goals 3 0 1 3 2 1 10
Caps Shots 26 29 34 23 35 30 177
Lightning Shots 41 17 38 38 25 28 187
Caps Corsi 0.430 0.52 0.495 0.439 0.549 0.598 0.504
Lightning Corsi 0.570 0.48 0.515 0.561 0.451 0.402 0.498
Caps Fenwick 0.409 0.533 0.474 0.378 0.569 0.571 0.483376
Lightning Fenwick 0.591 0.467 0.526 0.622 0.431 0.429 0.516624
Caps Save % 0.927 1 0.973684 0.921053 0.920 0.964286 0.947
Lightning Save % 0.8 0.793 1 1 0.886 0.966667 0.910
Caps Powerplay 1/1 2/4 0/3 0/2 1/4 0/3 24%
Lightning Powerplay 1/4 0/5 0/3 0/6 1/4 1/4 12%
Caps PK 3/4 5/5 3/3 6/6 3/4 3/4 88%
Lightning PK 1/4 2/3 3/3 2/2 3/4 3/3 70%

A 4-1-1 record for the Caps in the season series is very good but it should be noted that those first two games were before the Lightning acquired Dwayne Roloson to be their starting goaltender. They (well…Roloson) shut us out in the next two meetings and completely dominated the pace of play in game 4, not a good sign. However, the tables turned in game 5 where the Caps controlled the pace of play and were able to score four goals on Roli. Part of it had to do with Matt Hendricks rattling him early but take a look at ESPN’s shot chart and you’ll see that 3/5 goals came from right in front of the net.

It seems that the Caps will have to continue to do what they did against the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist to score goals.

The Fenwick numbers aren’t terribly promising but the Caps superior Corsi pencentage suggests that they are blocking shots better than the Lightning and Washington’s special teams have been more successful against Tampa Bay, as well. The Lightning also have a better Fenwick and Corsi percentage than Washington at even strength this year, too which is interesting to note.

A big player in this series has been Alexander Semin. Seven goals including two hat tricks (granted, those were against Dan Ellis/Mike Smith) and I think it’s clear that he will need to be a big player in this series for the Caps to be successful. Same with the usual “big guns” for Washington. One who appears to be in a slump now is Nicklas Backstrom (goalless in the NYR series) but one reason for it is an increase in defensive zone starts. Backstrom’s face-off numbers have remained solid despite his scoring troubles. This might be where the loss of David Steckel comes into play because Backstrom and Boyd Gordon have been getting the bulk of tough starts since Jason Arnott and Marcus Johansson haven’t been good at the dot. Maybe we could give some of Backstrom’s tougher starts to Brooks Laich to help out #19’s scoring woes. It works for the Sedins in Vancouver.

For the Lightning, the player who is the most dangerous is obviously Martin St. Louis. Obviously, Stamkos is a threat too but St. Louis was the best player in the Pens-Lightning series not named Dwayne Roloson so I expect him to carry his play over into this round. He’s won before and is coming off one of his strongest seasons. Simon Gagne has destroyed the Caps in his Flyers days so he is obviously a concern, as well. I’ll go into the Lightning players more in-depth in a later post.

The goaltending could be what makes or breaks the series for both teams. Roloson is 41 years old but he is still capable of stealing any game for the Lightning and he had to do that a few times against Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Michal Neuvirth was excellent against the Rangers but the Bolts carry a lot more offensive firepower so it will be interesting to see how well the Capitals defense handles them. The Lightning’s top line only had five points in the season series. Also of note is that Neuvirth only played in two games against Tampa Bay this season and was knocked out of one of them due to a freak mask accident. There is one back-to-back game in this series and the Caps have the option to switch goalies when/if one gets tired while the Lightning only have Roloson that could give the Caps an advantage. Varlamov played four games against the Bolts with a .949 save percentage so that’s something to take into account should the Caps be in this situation.

It’s looking like it will be a very exciting series and the Caps should like their chances here but there’s plenty of things that can go in the Lightning’s favor. Roloson can continue to stay hot and there is too much talent in their top 6 for their powerplay to stay quiet. Basically, the Caps can’t afford to take seven penalties a game like they did against the Rangers because the unit the Bolts have is 10 times more dangerous. Lots of things can go right too since the Bolts surrendered a ton of shots (over 30 per game) against Pittsburgh and if we can get to Roloson then we could see things go in our favor. The news of Dennis Wideman possibly returning should get fans excited, too.

Possible Second Round Opponents

The Caps have been playing the waiting game since Saturday after they took down the Rangers in five games in the first round. The only other team in the Eastern Conference to move on was the Philadelphia Flyers who eliminated the Buffalo Sabres in seven games yesterday. That leaves three possible opponents for the Caps to face in the next round; Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Montreal. The Caps have a winning record in regular season matchups between all three teams but the playoffs are a different game so let’s look into see who the lesser of three evils is:

Team      FENWICK   CORSI     S/G    SA/G    SV%   PPSF/60  PKSA/ 60
T.B.                  .522             .508         31.8     28.7    .928        50.0            46.0
PIT                   .543             .538         31.5     28.7    .929        47.5            44.3
MTL                 .525             .517         31.7     31.0    .921         53.6            48.5

Going by this, it seems that it doesn’t matter who the Caps play next since all three of these teams have similar even strength numbers. Pittsburgh being slightly better at controlling even strength play than the other two. Time On Ice is having trouble with showing Fenwick and Corsi data for the playoffs so I can’t use those to compare the teams but judging by shot data, Pittsburgh’s been creating the most offense while Tampa is producing the least and giving up the most shots. Montreal is in the middle with a -4.2 shot differential.

So which of these teams would you want to play the most if you’re a Caps fan? What about the least? My answer is that I don’t have much of a preference since we have our advantages and disadvantages against them. We won four games against Tampa and three games against both Pittsburgh and Montreal. All three have goalies who can steal games or completely flop, though Price has been the most impressive of all of them. Montreal’s penalty kill has also held the B’s powerplay to zero goals (with the 2nd least attempts in the playoffs) so that’s something to keep in mind. Tampa’s offense was shut down by Pittsburgh for the first four games but they have woken up in the last two now and that’s a forward corps which no one wants to face when they are on.

If the Caps play like they did against New York, then they should be able to beat any of these three teams. I don’t mean that in a cocky way but Tampa’s defense corps is surrendering a ton of shots against a team missing their top 2 centers, we should play fine against the Pens if Neuvirth is sharp and it will take a Halak-like performance from Price for Montreal to win. There are tons of things that can go wrong but as it stands right now, I don’t have a preference for who we face as long as Washington kicks some ass and moves on to the conference finals. I think Montreal might actually be the scariest to face since I can see a lot of things going wrong against them. Or maybe the Bruins just aren’t as good as I perceived?

A letter to Canuck fans

Dear Vancouver faithful,

I know you guys are in a tough spot right now with being on the brink of elimination after leading the series 3-0. As a Caps fan, I was in a similar situation last year where we were ousted by the 8th seed Montreal Canadiens in the first round and became the laughing stock of the NHL. Now a year has past and we managed to beat our first round opponent and it seems that title might be passed down to you if you are once again defeated by the Blackhawks tomorrow. I can only imagine how nervous you are for the game. I couldn’t even go to class the day of game 7 last year I was so sick to my stomach.

This Blackhawks team is a bit different than the Habs squad from a year ago. They are coming off a Cup win and still have been a very good team this year. We tried to warn you of this but they were ousted away with comments like “we’re a better team than we were last year.” and “They are nothing without Byfuglien, Niemi and Ladd.” Are you a better team than Chicago? Absolutely. By a wide margin? Debatable.  It looked like you guys were right at first but I don’t know if it’s just that your boys decided to take the foot off the gas pedal or if you awoken a sleeping giant in the Hawks.

Regardless, it was more than just “bad luck” that brought your Nucks down for games 4 and 5 like it did for my team last year since they looked like hot garbage in both of those games. I’m beginning to think that your team has an on/off button and they didn’t even bother getting out of bed for those games. Game 6, however, was more bad luck. Moreso it seems that everything is going wrong for your team at the worst possible time and a complete meltdown is near. It doesn’t get any worse when your coach loses faith in a goalie who was a Veznia finalist and has to play him anyway due an awfully timed injury.

Anyway, you have one game at home left to avoid the embarrassment that we suffered last year but it will take an effort greater than the one you had in game 6. Whether it means that Vigneault will have to ride his first two lines with all his might again or actually spread things around this time. Who knows? The good news is that he’s not keeping them on ice for a whole minute at a time like a certain coach did last year.

All that’s left to say is best of luck to your boys tomorrow. I had them winning in 7 games and there’s still a chance for that to come true. However, as someone who had to deal with some of the members of your fanbase’s snarky comments after game 7 vs. Montreal last season, you wont be getting any sympathy from me if you do lose.

Sincerely,

Corey

Rangers-Capitals Game 5 Recap (We’re going to the second round!)

Could we pick any better way to close out this series? Playing at home hasn’t been an advantage to most teams in this year’s playoffs but the Capitals played about as good of a home game as any team could to close out the series. They came out strong, forechecked hard and pinned the Rangers into their own zone early. Not only that but they capitalized on an early powerplay attempt to jump on top 1-0 and then it was no looking back from there. The Caps dominated the pace of play from then on and didn’t allow the Rangers to get any momentum until the last few minutes. After what happened last year when we were leading a series 3-1, today’s game was very refreshing to see.

The Caps will get a few days rest before moving on to round 2 where they will face an unknown opponent but a rest could be what they need with some of the injuries that happened today. For now, let’s enjoy this win and us advancing and give props to the Rangers for hanging tough through most of the series. They have a good young team who we could see again in the playoffs in the future.

Notes/Observations:

– “Your best players have to play like your best players” is what Jason Chimera said after game 4 and that’s what we got today. Mike Green, Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin all with goals today and the latter showed some of his vintage self with his marker. Great performance all around by all three (I’ll mention Green’s injury in later) and they definitely were at their best today. It’s especially good to see Semin stepping up in the playoffs after years of inconsistency.

– Mike Green had to leave the game after taking a Matt Gilroy shot to the head. This is his third head injury in the last few months so it was wise for the Caps training staff to not let him back into the game for safety reasons. Yes, we need him but it’s better not to risk his health in that situation. He was on the bench, though so that’s a good sign at least. Even more of a good sign is that Dennis Wideman could be back for round 2.

– This is going to turn into a big rivalry soon. All of the post-goal scrums and chippy play between whistles really indicated that. There’s a lot of growing hatred between some players on these two teams. It helps when one team has a super-pest in Sean Avery. I didn’t like that cheap shot Dan Girardi threw at Brooks Laich, nor some of the things Brandon Dubinsky did between plays. Still, those things come with the territory in a rivalry.

– John Erskine had his best playoff game so far tonight. He had a lot of defensive zone starts but still managed three shots on goal, three blocked shots and a positive Corsi and Fenwick rating. Good that he had a game like this with Green missing a lot of time.

– I mentioned how Karl Alzner and John Carlson were struggling the last two games but these two were outstanding today. Kept Gaborik, Dubinsky and Fedotenko off the scoresheet completely tonight and Carlson’s Corsi ended with a Corsi rating of 12.

– Brooks Laich was placed at the RW spot on the top line in place of Mike Knuble instead of Chimera. Had 2 secondary assists but he did his best work on the penalty kill, in my opinion.

– Marcus Johansson could be a big factor in later rounds if he keeps improving with every game like he’s been doing so far. He is showing some great speed (watch him and Chimera’s 2-0n-1 chance) and playmaking skills (see Semin’s goal) and I hope we can see more of that on a consistent level as time goes on.

– Neuvirth came up huge late in the game to keep the Rangers from coming back in the game and I think he’s going to start from here on out assuming a disaster doesn’t happen. He has been simply terrific so far and a huge factor in us winning this series.

– The “We Are Louder” chants got old fast. My favorite thing about those “Can You Hear Us” chants at MSG were when we put an end to them with the game-tying and winning goals on Wednesday and Rangers fans probably wanted the same thing to happen with us. Hey, I will take a five-game series win over having a louder building. Just like I’d rather have a coach who bad-mouths an arena to rile fans up rather than a coach who yells at an official and takes a bench minor penalty.

– Speaking of penalties, only two penalties taken and we killed off both of them. Scored on one powerplay, as well. Nicely done, gentlemen.

– Henrik Lundqvist is a goalie  I have a ton of respect for an enjoy watching a lot. Which is why I think it’s a pity that he hasn’t won a cup yet but once the Rangers get more of an offense in front of him, maybe that will happen. They have four solid defensemen in front of him but I can’t imagine how scarier the Rangers would be if they had more.

It feels really good to win a series early, doesn’t it? Nothing to do but celebrate and wait to see who our next opponent is. These playoffs have been amazing so far and I hope they don’t let up one bit.

Notes from the series and keys to game 5

The Caps find themselves in a very familiar position as they lead the Rangers 3 games to 1 heading back to Verizon Center with a chance to close out the series on Saturday. After rallying back from a 3-0 deficit on Wednesday to beat the Rangers in double overtime, most would think that the Caps should be able to finish off New York with out any troubles but after their collapse against Montreal last season and Chicago currently making a comeback against the Canucks, it’s hard to make that assumption. I’ve looked a few more stats and videos from the series to determine what needs to happen this Saturday for the Caps to move onto the next round in five games.

– Okay, some good news first; The Caps have the advantage in the possession game and have a Fenwick percentage of 55.4% and a Corsi percentage of 53.1%. Most of that is likely from dominating them in game 1 and for three periods (3rd-2OT) in game 4. The Rangers led the corsi/fenwick battle in games 2 and 3 but they didn’t outplay us by much. When the Caps have been controlling play, they’ve been running away with it.

– I wouldn’t say Michal Neuvirth has stole games for us but he’s played wonderful these first four games. Save percentage of .941 at even strength and only allowed one powerplay goal on 16 shots. He has had to come up big on penalty kills and he was a big factor in us winning game 2 and staying in game 3. This isn’t quite a goaltender’s duel yet but both him and Henrik Lundqvist have been outstanding so far.

– If New York could muster up more offense then I would consider it a goalie duel. It’s only four games but the only forward who has been giving the Rangers an offensive spark is Brandon Dubinsky and their defense corps haven’t been producing offensively except for Matt Gilroy and Marc Staal. Someone has to step up for the Rangers to come back in this series. They have 30+ shots on net the past two games so maybe an outburst is coming?

– Speaking of outbursts, I would like to see Nicklas Backstrom have one in game 5. He only has one point this series and hasn’t looked like himself at all. However, he has the best relative corsi rating out of any player on the team, showing he (and his line) are doing their jobs at getting the puck moving in the right direction. I would like to see some results soon, though.

– John Carlson and Karl Alzner have been getting plowed the last couple of games. They were on ice for all three Ranger goals (but they did set up the game-tying goal) and have been giving up a lot of chances as well. They played great in the first two games of the series, though so it hasn’t been all struggles for them.

– Boyd Gordon has only started 7.7% of his shifts in the offensive zone and somehow he has only surrendered an average of 12 shots per 60 minutes. That is pretty incredible.

– That Prust-Boyle-Avery line for the Rangers has been very effective at giving the Rangers momentum. They are the best line in terms of corsi and are going up against some pretty tough competition, as well.

– Everyone is talking about how well Girardi and Staal have been “shutting down” Washington’s top line and while they have been workhorses this series, it’s been Ryan McDonagh who I’ve been impressed by. Him and Mike Sauer have also been playing a lot of minutes and are doing a pretty good job of slowing down the Caps 2nd line. Only one goal surrendered while he was on ice. That’s really impressive, especially for a rookie.

– The Rangers have had the lead more times in this series than the Caps have. The only time the Caps have had the lead was in game 2, where they won 2-0. The Caps have been playing well with the score tied, though which is very good. Outshooting the Rangers by about 20 shots.

– The Caps have 12 powerplay opportunities, tied with Boston for the lowest in the playoffs.

Keys to Game 5

Top line needs to produce

Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin have been our best forwards in terms of possession and while they don’t always play on the same line, they need to produce if we’re going to win this series. As I mentioned earlier, Backstrom has been very quiet and Ovechkin has two goals which is good but I feel like he wasn’t a factor at all in game 4. Semin is well…Alex Semin. It was all Bad Sasha from his game winner in game 1 to the third period of game 4. Jason Chimera said “your best players need to play like they are” and these three aren’t right now.

Stay Out of the Penalty Box

I know the Rangers powerplay has been abysmal (1/18 this series) but 14 penalties in two games is way too many and it’s the reason why we were put in a hole in both game 3 and 4.

Crash the net.

This speaks for itself right now. It’s how we’ve gotten the most success against Lundqvist and I see no reason to change it.

Get physical with Girardi/Staal

As I noted earlier, these two have been worked like dogs by the Rangers this series and have played over 30 minutes in some games. They have to be getting tired right about now and Ovechkin has been known to get physical against defensemen so I think this would be a good time to do that. Putting Chimera on the top line again would also work if Knuble can’t play. Not only have these two played a ton of minutes, but the Rangers have been rolling with four defensemen during crunch time. Gilroy and McCabe have only been used in offensive situations while Staal, Girardi, Sauer and McDonagh have been used for everything else. We have the advantage of rolling six d-men now so let’s take advantage of it.

I think that covers everything I wanted to talk about. Enjoy the game, relax and let’s go Caps!