Playoff Pregame #4: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers

#1 Washington Capitals at #8 New York Rangers
Capitals lead the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series 2-1
Location:  Madison Square Garden
7:00 PM
TV:  LocalComcast SportsNet (HD), NationalVersus (HD)
Radio 106.7 FM, 1500AM
Previous Games:
Apr 13, 2011 NYR@WSH, 2-1 W (OT)
Apr 15, 2011 NYR@WSH, 2-0 W
Apr 17, 2011 NYR@WSH, 2-3 L
Next Game:
Apr 23, 2011 NYR@WSH, 3:00pm
Know The Enemy: Our Bloguin Partner: The New York Rangers Blog, Sports Haze, Blueshirt Banter

Feast Your Eyes on the Big Apple Showdown!

The Washington Capitals dropped a dud on Sunday, when they were unable to match the Rangers’ intensity.  Don’t expect the Caps to be flat-footed tonight, as they know what level of effort will be expected from them in this crucial game.  With a 2-1 series lead, the Caps need to win tonight if this is going to be a short series, a must if they want to advance deep into the playoffs.  Rangers Coach John Tortorella has already gone to the well and has pulled out all his stops and was only barely able to win one game, don’t expect many surprises from the Rangers tonight outside of line-shuffling.  At least the Rangers fans will have something to get excited about, because apparently their arena is “horrible.”

Injury Report:  Capitals’ defensemen Dennis Wideman (leg hematoma), and Tom Poti (groin) are out. 
-The Rangers are missing RW Ryan Callahan (broken leg), LW Derek Boogaard (shoulder), G Martin Biron (broken collarbone), and RW Alexander Frolov (knee).

Three Things To Watch For:

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
General George S. Patton, Jr.
This is more or less what the Rangers have been doing to the Caps.  Hitting hard and bothering the goalie are not exactly genius ideas, but if you do them well it can give you an edge.  The rest of the Rangers’s plan is to try to block as many shots as possible and rely on their goalie to bail out their anemic offense.  It got them to the playoffs and got them a Game 3 win.  If the Caps had this mindset going into Game 3, there might not need to be a Game 5. 

“If you want money, go to the bank.  If you want bread, go to the bakery.  If you want goals, go to the net.”
Brooks Laich
The Capitals need to get back to playing some basic hockey.  This includes scoring goals, and to score goals regularly, you must attack the net.  To be fair, the enemy has a vote, but while the Rangers are playing excellent defense, the Caps’ forwards aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.  The Caps have scored 2 goals in each game, which may be enough to beat the Rangers, but it’s not very good otherwise.  Of the Caps 6 goals, 3 were scored within 7 feet of the goal and another was scored off a bounce from a point shot.  Imagine what would happen if the Caps crashed the net more frequently, especially Brooks Laich.

“Take the shortest route to the puck carrier, and arrive in ill humor.”
Fred Shero
The legendary Flyers coach got it right with this maxim and the Caps need to have this tatooed to their foreheads.  The Caps need to keep throwing their weight around against the Rangers.  Many of their best scoring chances in the first 2 games came when they had worn down the Rangers’ defense, but they seemed to let up in Game 3.  The Caps shouldn’t expect any of their opponents to take a night off, nor should they expect their opponents not to try to put them through the glass every chance they get.  Why do the Caps think they can coast through any part of a shift and think and there won’t be consequences?