Game 3 Preview: Capitals at Rangers

#3 Washington Capitals at #6 New York Rangers
Capitals Lead Series 2-0
Location: Madison Square Garden
Time:
7:30 PM
TV:  Local: CSN, National: NBCSN, Canada: TSN
Radio: 1500AM & 820AM
Previous Games:
Game 1, May 2 in Washington: 3-1 W
Game 2, May 4 in Washington, 1-0 W (OT)
Remaining Games:
Game 4, May 8 in New York, 7:30 PM
Game 5*, May 10 in Washington, 7:30 PM
Game 6*, May 12 in New York, TBD
Game 7*, May 13 in Washington, TBD
*If necessary
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals:  D Steve Eminger (212 GP, 2002-08)

Rangers in Danger! Read on!


Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have a stranglehold on this best of 7 series after taking a 2-0 lead on Saturday. It is only fitting that Mike Green's overtime game-winner came on the powerplay, as the Capitals have been dominant in that regard. The Capitals have scored on the powerplay in both games in this series while the Rangers have been dormant with the extra man. This is a hallmark of Adam Oates' coaching, and there is no reason to think the Capitals' special teams units will falter at any point in this series. Unless the Rangers can find a way to level the playing field on special teams, this series will be over quickly. 

The New York Rangers return to Madison Square Garden with their backs against the wall. Head Coach John Tortorella made adjustments in Game 2 to keep the Capitals off the board at even strength and through all of regulation, but it wasn't enough to win. With the way the Capitals are disrupting the Rangers forecheck, the Blueshirts need help from their powerplay, a point of concern for John Tortorella, who said, "We're just too stagnant. We're almost paralyzed." Look for Tortorella to mix up his powerplay attack for game 3 and make adjustments to his forecheck to try to generate more offense.

Injury Report: Capitals' C Brooks Laich (hernia surgery) is out. 
-For the Rangers, D Marc Staal (eye) and RW Ryane Clowe (leg, head) are questionable, but may return at some point during the first round.

Three Things To Watch For:

Killer Carlson:  The Washington Capitals have gotten huge offensive contributions from two of their defense pairings in this series so far. Third-pairing defenseman Steve Oleksy made a sublime pass to Marcus Johansson for the game-winning breakaway goal in Game 1 and top-pairing defensmane Mike Green scored the game-winner in Game 2. Second-pairing defenseman John Carlson has a history of scoring big goals against the New York Rangers but has been quiet in the series so far. After leading the Capitals in scoring in the season series against the Rangers this year, the New Jersey-raised Carlson should be a major factor as the series turns to the bright lights of Broadway.  Carlson played a game-high 27:07 in game 2, nearly 4 minutes more than the next skater on either side, and he should continue to get plenty of chances to make his mark on the series. Look for him to be a factor in Game 3.

Richie Rich:  Rangers' playmaking center Brad Richards is the highest paid player in the NHL with an prorated annual salary of $12 million this season, meaning he is under intense pressure to produce after going pointless in the first two games of this series.  He knows a thing or two about producing in the playoffs, too.  Brad Richards was on the 2003 Tortorella-coached Tampa Bay Lightning team that came back from a 2-0 series deficit against the Washington Capitals.  He was also playoff MVP as the Lightning won the Stanley Cup the next season, setting an NHL record with 7 game-winning goals.  Richards didn't quite make a Mark Messier prediction after game 2, but he said, "we know we will score more than one goal in two games." Richards is coming to play, expect him to make an impact especially on the powerplay with his creativity. 

Big Mac:  Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was the goat in Game 2, throwing the puck over the glass and giving the Caps the game-winning powerplay in overtime. Of course, the 6'1, 213-lb McDonagh had already been on the ice for a 3-minute shift, and not by accident.  As a measure of how much Coach Tortorella depends on him, McDonagh was second on the Rangers in total ice time this season, behind only defense partner Dan Girardi, playing 1,144:50 in 47 games, or 24:21 per game. The 23-year old St. Paul native took the loss hard, and much will depend on his ability to bounce back. If he is off his game at any point during the game, the Capitals' top line has the ability to eat him alive.  On the other hand, if he is able to internalize the mistake and bounce back, he will be that much harder to beat in Game 3.

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