Can you hear me now? Good.
If you don’t know what I’m doing with the first sentence, get up on your commercials.
The Washington Capitals will need all of the support they can get tonight as they hope to defeat the New York Rangers in game seven.
Game six was a contest where neither side really stood out. The Rangers didn’t do anything extremely creative offensively, much like the Caps. The physical game was fairly even on both sides. The goaltending was outstanding for both hockey clubs.
While the Rangers did have a distinct advantage in faceoffs, the area that stood out once again were powerplay opportunities.
5-0 in favor of the Rangers. 15-5 in favor of the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. 26-14 in favor of New York throughout the series.
I’m not one to single out officiating as a reason why a team is being defeated, but there have been some “noticeable” differences in how the game has been called away from Verizon Center.
While the Rangers scored the lone goal of the game at full strength, the Capitals have something to gripe about in regards to the officiating.
Constantly being on the penalty kill limits opportunities for your offensive stars like Alexander Ovechkin to not only showcase their skills by getting on the ice, but it also holds the Capitals back from ever creating opportunities on their own powerplay — where they were No. 1 in the league with a 26.8% success rate during the regular season.
That being said, as much as the Capitals have played man-down in this series, they have to stay aggressive and cease the tentative nature they have been forced to play with in this series.
Eric Fehr is a guy to watch in tonight’s game.
The third line player has been one that has stayed aggressive on each forecheck, backcheck and shift that he has been on. Whether it has been man-down, full strength or the powerplay, Fehr seems to always try to get involved in the action. He will be instrumental in bringing this team’s energy up, especially after losing a tough one yesterday.
Playing aggressive also forces the action on the Rangers. When team’s are allowed to dictate the pace of the game to their liking, the opposition tends to fall flat on their face and commit a penalty.
Taking more shots always helps. Taking them from anywhere helps too.
Whenever there is traffic in front of the net, the Caps have to be more willing to let the cannons loose. All they have to do is watch the film from game six and see when and where to take shots. Even good goaltenders can’t stop certain deflections, just ask Braden Holtby.
It never feels good to lose 1-0. It really doesn’t feel good when the goal came off of a deflection off your own player.
Coming back to D.C. may be the medicine needed to cure the Capitals’ playoff woes.
As of now, this series has been chalk. Every home team has won. This has to be an encouraging sign for the Caps, but they can’t let it get to their heads.
The Rangers will be poised to be that first road team to make the ultimate statement in this series. The first period will be a telling sign of who really wants to move on and who just cherished the opportunity of making the playoffs.
Ultimately, the big guns will have to show up in this contest. Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom will have to play possessed, especially Ovechkin. A legacy like his could be defined with games like tonight.
As of late, he has reverted back to his old ways. Using the curl-and-drag up the left-side boards, a step-over move to get into the slot and ultimately have his shot blocked, miss or have the puck poked away. He had a few great opportunities Sunday, but ultimately couldn’t capitalize. He will have to get off his four-game snide without a point if the Capitals expect to move on.
Just imagine the roar of the building if the Gr8 scores…
The Rangers would have to not only beat the boys in red on the ice, but the 20,000 fanatics rocking the red in the stands.