Friday, April 29, 2011

Playoff Round 2 Game #1 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals



Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  April 29, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. TAM: 0-1
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. TAM: 2-4
Last Meeting: 2003, WAS 2 TAM 4

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

TAM Record: 46-25-11
Standings Points: 103
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 4-1-1
Nov. 11, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 3
Nov. 26, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 0
Jan. 4, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 1 (OT)
Jan. 12, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 3
Feb. 4, 2011 WAS 5 TAM 2
Mar. 7, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 1 (OT-SO)


Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 29, 2011 at Washington
May 01, 2011 at Washington
May 03, 2011 at Tampa
May 04, 2011 at Tampa
May 07, 2011 at Washington*
May 09, 2011 at Tampa*
May 11, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 21 LAICH
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 52 GREEN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Tampa
Forward Line 1: 12 GAGNE, 91 STAMKOS, 9 DOWNIE
Forward Line 2: 16 PURCELL, 4 LECAVALIER, 26 ST. LOUIS
Forward Line 3: 6 MALONE, 19 MOORE, 10 BERGENHEIM
Forward Line 4: 18 HALL, 44 THOMPSON, 42 TYRELL
Defense Pair 1: 2 BREWER, 39 LUNDIN
Defense Pair 2: 7 CLARK, 5 OHLUND
Defense Pair 3: 13 KUBINA, 77 HEDMAN
Goalie: 35 ROLOSON
Back-up Goalie: 41 SMITH

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD, 22 KNUBLE (hand) DTD

TAM – None

Preview:

The Capitals second round opponent is Southeast Division foe Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington advanced last Saturday against New York and has been waiting around to see whom they would next face. The Lightning series went to seven games with the Bolts winning just two nights ago. The two teams are intimately familiar with one another and it will be interesting to see how Game #1 unfolds. Will the Caps be rusty, will Tampa be tired or will both teams come out flying? I’m thinking the later. These teams don’t get along well and have players that can light up the scoreboard. In the first round Alex Ovechkin led Washington in scoring but he led the League in hits and played just 5 games. In the regular season the Capitals went 4-1-1 against Tampa but the two losses came in shutouts to Lightning starting goalie Dwayne Roloson. Roloson was the key to victory in the first round and led the League in save percentage in the first round. At the other end of the ice, Capitals rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth led the League in goals against average and was second in save percentage. This series will be a little more wide open with less grinding but secondary scoring will be a major factor in the series. Watch Alexander Semin, who scored 7 goals in 4 regular season games against the Lightning this year, to be the difference maker in this series. It’s going to be a battle to shut down the big time scorers and I see the Caps doing it in 6. Game #1 will see a hungry well rested Capitals team take it to the Lightning with the big guns firing on all cylinders.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 5 TAM 2


Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 Washington Capitals Playoff Schedule - Round 2










After defeating the New York Rangers in Round 1, the Capitals will face Southeast Division rival Tampa in Round 2. The #5 seed Lightning knocked out the #4 seed Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round 4 games to 3. Washington retains home ice advantage as the #1 seed. Here is the schedule for the series:

Game 1: Friday April 29, 7:00 PM at Washington
Game 2: Sunday May 1, 7:00 PM at Washington
Game 3: Tuesday May 3, TBD at Tampa
Game 4: Wednesday May 4, 7:00 PM at Tampa
Game 5*: Saturday May 7, 12:30 PM at Washington
Game 6*: Monday May 9, TBD at Tampa
Game 7*: Wednesday May 11, TBD at Washington
* If required

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #5 Recap: Caps 3 New York Rangers 1

The Capitals showed no signs of letting down at all in this one and advance to the second round of the playoffs with a 3-1 victory against the Rangers. Mike Green drew first blood in the game with a power play goal. After some rough play in the crease the puck popped out to Alex Ovechkin who wined and faked a slap shot that froze the man in front. Ovechkin instead passed the puck to Green whose initial shot was stopped but he followed the puck and deflected it in the net off a defender. A melee ensued as Ovechkin and Green celebrated and Brook s Laich took a punch to the head from Dan Girardi that appeared to hurt Girardi's hand. As the saying goes, "If you punch Brooks Laich, its you who gets hurt." Interesting enough, the goal was the only first period goal in the series for either team. It set the tone early with the Capitals dominating possession, getting the puck in deep and using a tenacious forecheck. Later in the first Green slid to block a shot and took another slap shot off his head. Green went to the dressing room and later sat on the bench but was held out for precautionary reasons. Hopefully, it will not result in another concussion that has limited his action since February. The second period featured more of the same with the Ranger unable to breakdown the Washington defense or when they did Michal Neuvirth was solid in goal. The Caps went up by two goals when Brooks Laich and Scott Hannan sprung Alex Ovechkin on the right wing. Ovechkin raced down beating All-Star Defenseman Marc Staal into the offensive zone and then beat All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist with a forehand, backhand move from right to left across the crease. The goal sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy and the Capitals kept pushing. In the third period with New York throwing all caution to the wind. Marcus Johansson took advantage and set up Alexander Semin with a sweet aerial pass on a 2-on-1. Semin finished it off and the Caps led 3-0. The Rangers scored with less than a minute remaining spoiling Neuvirth's shutout bid but not the day. The Caps and Rangers met at center ice for the traditional post series handshake as Washington advanced to round 2 winning 4 games to 1.

Of Note:
  • Michal Neuvirth was the #1 Star of the game and finished the series stopping 140 of the 148 shots he faced. He sports a 0.946 save percentage and 1.38 GAA. Not bad for a rookie.
  • Alex Ovechkin got the series clinching goal and an assist on the Mike Green score. In the five games he put up 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points and led the team with 23 hits.
  • Green was the only player to register points in all 5 games. He was second on the team in scoring, behind Ovechkin, with 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points.
  • The penalty killers stopped both New York power plays in Game 5 and allowed only 1 power play goal against in 20 chances in the series. That's a 95% kill rate. Not bad at all.
  • The Rangers lead the regular season in blocked shots. In the series the Capitals blocked 104 shots to the Rangers 103. Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz led the Caps with 15 blocks each in the five games.
  • As he did throughout the series Boyd Gordon led the Capitals in the face-off dot. He won 12 of the 15 draws he took in Game 5 and was 69% effective in the five games.
  • And finally hats off to Alexander Semin and Jason Chimera who came through in the Game #1 overtime and the Game #4 double overtime wins.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #5 Preview: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals


Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  April 23, 2011, 3:00 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. NYR: 3-2
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. NYR: 18-15
Last Meeting: 2009, WAS 4 NYR 3

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

NYR Record: 44-33-5
Standings Points: 93
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 8th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 1-2-1
Nov. 9, 2010 WAS 5 NYR 3
Dec. 12, 2010 WAS 0 NYR 7
Jan. 24, 2011 WAS 1 NYR 2 (OT-SO)
Feb. 25, 2011 WAS 0 NYR 6

Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 13, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 1 (OT)
Apr. 15, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 0
Apr. 17, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 3
Apr. 20, 2011 WAS 4 NYR 3 (2OT)
Apr. 23, 2011 at Washington*
Apr. 25, 2011 at New York*
Apr. 27, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 21 LAICH
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 52 GREEN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

New York
Forward Line 1: 20 PROSPAL, 42 ANISIMOV, 10 GABORIK
Forward Line 2: 17 DUBINSKY, 21 STEPAN, 19 FEDOTENKO
Forward Line 3: 86 WOLKSKI, 22 BOYLE, 8 PRUST
Forward Line 4: 16 AVERY, 26 CHRISTENSEN, 23 DRURY
Defense Pair 1: 18 STAAL, 5 GIRARDI
Defense Pair 2: 27 MCDONAGH, 38 SAUER
Defense Pair 3: 28 MCCABE, 97 GILROY
Goalie: 30 LUNDQVIST
Back-up Goalie: 29 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD, 22 KNUBLE (hand) DTD

NYR – BIRON (broken collarbone) IR, BOOGAARD (concussion) IR, FROLOV (knee) IR, CALLAHAN (ankle) IR

Preview:

Washington will try to close out the series at home in Game #5. After the Game #4 double overtime comeback from 3 goals down the Capitals cannot afford to let down as the Rangers will be even more desperate this time around. Jason Chimera was the hero in Game #4 but the next game-winner for the Capitals will be even bigger. With a 3-1 series lead everyone in bringing up last year’s collapse with the same lead but this is not last year’s team. With everything that has happened this season, this team is much more prepared for these moments. Expect another tight, hard checking game. The Rangers will try to get out to a fast start offensively so look for Washington to counter. It should be interesting to see if either team can score in the first period. The previous 4 games of the series have been scoreless after 1 period. I think that Washington will have a good start and in another close game pull out the victory.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 NYR 2


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #4 Recap: Caps 4 New York Ranger 3 (2OT)


It took 12:36 of the second overtime period for the Washington Capitals to come all the way back from the 3-0 hole they dug for themselves in the second period. After a hard hitting, scoreless first period the Caps were first pierced by a fluke goal that was shot from behind the net. The puck deflected off Matt Hendricks' skate and by Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth for a 1-0 advantage for the hometown Rangers. Eight minutes later it got even worse. The Rangers' Ruslan Fedotenko circled the net and threw a backhand at the net that turned out to be a perfect pass to Marion Gaborik who stashed the puck for a 2-0 lead. Seven seconds later it was 3-0 when Fedotenko gained the zone and fired the puck wide but all five Caps were in traced by the puck and Fedotenko gathered the puck and fed the slot where the Rangers' Brandon Dubinsky blasted a one-timer home. It looked really bad for the visitors as the crowd serenaded Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau for his comments about the general terribleness of their building and the unloudness of the fans. This fan wondered if it wouldn't be wise to pull young Neuvirth to save him from losing his confidence in the face of such terrible defensive breakdowns. But Boudreau held firm and that is why he is the head coach and I have an unpaid blog.

They must have put something in the water between periods because Washington looked like a different team in the third. Alexander Semin got the Caps on the board first when he intercepted a pass in the Ranger zone and fired it on net. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist had trouble corralling the puck but appeared to cover it but play went on and it slid out and sat on the goal line where Semin tapped it in. Lundqvist argued that he had covered the puck but the whistle never blew so now it was 3-1. Less than a minute later Mike Green fed Brooks Laich coming into the offensive zone Laich breifly lost the puck in the left wing circle but regained the puck along the boards and fired a back door pass to Marcus Johansson who tapped the puck in at the far post. It was now a hockey game at 3-2. At the 12:07 mark the Caps would bring things back to level when John Carlson fired a slap shot from the left point that was clearly going wide but fortunately for the Capitals the puck hit Johansson at the side of the net and redirected straight in to tie the game at 3-3.

For the second time in the series the game went to sudden death overtime. In the first overtime the Capitals controlled much of the play but Lundqvist stood tall. Brooks Laich sent Alex Ovechkin in on a clear breakaway but Lundqvist stoned him with the glove. The Capitals had a golden opportunity when the Rangers were called for a delaying game penalty. The power play looked lively with Alexander Semin breaking down the defense and getting a couple of shots on but the Rangers held tough. The game went to the second overtime period. The teams looking more and more fatigued continued to battle but at the midway mark the Caps were caught with too many men on the ice. The Capitals penalty killers, although weary, were able to kill off the seventh Ranger power play on the night. The Caps kept pushing and were clearly the better team in the second overtime but just weren't getting that one bounce they needed. Finally they did when Jason Chimera took a drop pass at the Rangers blue line and fired a shot on goal and followed it to the net. Lunqvist made the save but was handcuffed by the puck. As he reached out to cover the free puck a defender tried to clear it to the corner but hit Chimera in the chest and the puck dropped in front of the empty net and Chimera tapped it in for the win and a 3-1 series advantage for the Capitals. The teams have two days off until they meet again on Saturday afternoon.

Of Note:
  • Michal Neuvirth stopped 36 of 39 shots in the victory. His 1.45 goals against average is second best in the NHL playoffs so far.
  • Marcus Johansson was named the game's #1 Star with 2 goals, a +3 rating, and he also made the little drop pass to Chimera on the game winner. 
  • The Capitals plan to cut down on the penalties didn't work out so well. For the second game in a row they gave the Ranger 7 power play opportunities but the penalty killers were up to the task and killed off all 7. In the series the Caps have killed off 17 of 18. Not bad at all.
  • With Mike Knuble out with an undisclosed injury Jason Chimera was elevated to the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. It didn't work out so well as the trio was on ice for two goals agaist but Chimera redeemed himself with the double overtime game-winning goal. He has 2 game winning goals in the series and 3 in 11 playoff games with Washington. Pretty clutch considering he only has 1 game-winner in 120 regular season game with the Capitals.
  • The Capitals out shot the Rangers 53-39 in the game and came on big time in the third period and first overtime out shooting New York 13-7 and 13-9 in those frames.
  • This was a big hitting game with the Ranger racking up 69 hits to the Caps 51. Matt Bradley led Washington with 7 hits in 10:59 of ice time.
  • Mike Green, John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Brooks Laich each had 1 assist.
  • Eric Fehr who replaced Knuble in the lineup was +3 in the game with 3 shots on goal and 3 hits.
Official Recap
Game Summay
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #4 Preview: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers



Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

When:  April 20, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. NYR: 3-2
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. NYR: 17-15
Last Meeting: 2009, WAS 4 NYR 3

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

NYR Record: 44-33-5
Standings Points: 93
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 8th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 1-2-1
Nov. 9, 2010 WAS 5 NYR 3
Dec. 12, 2010 WAS 0 NYR 7
Jan. 24, 2011 WAS 1 NYR 2 (OT-SO)
Feb. 25, 2011 WAS 0 NYR 6

Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 13, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 1 (OT)
Apr. 15, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 0
Apr. 17, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 3
Apr. 20, 2011 at New York
Apr. 23, 2011 at Washington*
Apr. 25, 2011 at New York*
Apr. 27, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 52 GREEN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

New York
Forward Line 1: 20 PROSPAL, 42 ANISIMOV, 10 GABORIK
Forward Line 2: 17 DUBINSKY, 21 STEPAN, 19 FEDOTENKO
Forward Line 3: 86 WOLKSKI, 22 BOYLE, 8 PRUST
Forward Line 4: 16 AVERY, 26 CHRISTENSEN, 23 DRURY
Defense Pair 1: 18 STAAL, 5 GIRARDI
Defense Pair 2: 27 MCDONAGH, 38 SAUER
Defense Pair 3: 28 MCCABE, 97 GILROY
Goalie: 30 LUNDQVIST
Back-up Goalie: 29 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD

NYR – BIRON (broken collarbone) IR, BOOGAARD (concussion) IR, FROLOV (knee) IR, CALLAHAN (ankle) IR

Preview:

Washington will try and regain the momentum after a late goal against allowed the Ranger claim a win in Game #3. The Capitals have been playing solid defense but the offense has been a bit sporadic. The top two lines have been getting it done with Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott who have amassed 4 and 3 points respectively. The Capitals will need to get some offense from the third and fourth lines. Hello Matt Bradley and Matt Hendricks. In addition to the toughness these guys bring to the lineup, combined 10 hits in 3 games, they need to disrupt Henrik Lundqvist in the crease. So far he has pretty much had a free pass this series and a little heat on him could be a big boost for Washington. Expect another bruising game with lots of hitting and clogged neutral zone. Look for the Capitals to crash the net more in this game and try to take control early. Michal Neuvirth has been stellar in the series through three games. He has stopped 78 of the 82 shots he’s faced and been unflappable under pressure. Watch for the Caps to be more aggressive in the offensive zone and force the Rangers to react. The Capitals will need to do this if they want any time on the power play. Last game the Caps allowed the Rangers to dictate play and ended up defending 7 power plays against including two 5-on-3 chances. I think the Capitals will pressure the Rangers early and get the first goal but it will be another tight game with the winner in doubt until the third period. With a strong forecheck and more offensive presents the Caps can wear down the New York defense and come out on top.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 2 NYR 1


Monday, April 18, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #3 Recap: Caps 2 New York 3

The Capitals fell for the first time in the series after ending up on the wrong end of a 3-2 score. The Rangers twice took one goal leads that the Capitals matched but the final tally came at the 18:21 mark of the third period and the Caps ran out of clock. For Washington the main lesson to be learned is that the aggressor is going to get the calls. By pushing the play the Rangers forced the Caps to defend their own zone and in doing were reacting to plays rather than controlling plays. This led to the discrepancy in penalty calls where New York had 7 power plays to Washington's 3. The Capitals penalty kill was valiant in its work. Stopping 6 of the 7 New York man advantage chances including 1:34 of 5-on-3 play where the Caps allowed only 2 shots on goal. The first New York goal came on the power play 5:30 into the second period with John Carlson in the box for a cross check. The Capitals responded late in the third with a a tip in goal by Alex Ovechkin that was set up by Jason Arnott and Mike Green. The Rangers thought they had replied with a goal at the very end of the period when a seeing-eye puck shot from the left wing corner found its way through a maze of bodies, went off the far post and across the goal line. Video review concluded that the puck completely cross the goal line after time had had expired so there was no goal. The third period saw the Ranger retake the lead eight minutes into the frame when a rebound fell right onto a Ranger stick on the right side of the crease. After killing off another New York power play the Caps got their third man-advantage of the game. Mike Knuble tied the score from in close on a goal set up by Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. From there the game appeared to be headed to another overtime but with just over four minutes remaining Carlson and Rangers forward Brian Boyle were sent to the box for roughing. During the 4-on-4 action, Brandon Dubinsky took the puck out of a scrum in the left wing corner and went straight to the net. His shot was initially blocked but the puck deflected off of Karl Alzner's shoulder, Michal Neuvirth's right pad and Ovechkin's stick before dribbling into the net giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead with 1:39 remaining in regulation. The Capitals pulled the goalie to no avail. The Capitals lead the series 2-1 with Game #4 on Wednesday.

Of Note:
  • Michal Neuvirth stopped 32 of 35 shots in his first playoff loss. He has now given up 4 goals on 82 shots he's faced for a 0.951 save percentage.
  • Alex Ovechkin continues to score and dish out the punishment. He finished Game #3 with 1 goal, 1 assist and a team high 5 hits.
  • The Capitals were out shot 35 to 25 in the game and were not good in the face-off dot. Only Boyd Gordon who won 11 of his 16 draws was above 50%. These are two areas the Capitals will need to address in Game #4.
  • Jason Arnott and Mike Green contributed 1 assist each in Game #3 and have 3 points apiece in the series.
  • It was a rough game for the young defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Carlson had 2 penalties and Alzner was on ice for 2 of New York's 3 goals. On the plus side the duo combined for 5 hits and 2 blocked shots.
  • After putting up 53 blocked shots in the first 2 games the Caps only managed 11 blocks in Game #3.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Playoff Round 1 Game #3 Preview: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers



Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  April 17, 2011, 3:00 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. NYR: 3-2
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. NYR: 17-14
Last Meeting: 2009, WAS 4 NYR 3

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

NYR Record: 44-33-5
Standings Points: 93
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 8th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 1-2-1
Nov. 9, 2010 WAS 5 NYR 3
Dec. 12, 2010 WAS 0 NYR 7
Jan. 24, 2011 WAS 1 NYR 2 (OT-SO)
Feb. 25, 2011 WAS 0 NYR 6

Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 13, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 1 (OT)
Apr. 15, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 0
Apr. 17, 2011 at New York
Apr. 20, 2011 at New York
Apr. 23, 2011 at Washington*
Apr. 25, 2011 at New York*
Apr. 27, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 52 GREEN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

New York
Forward Line 1: 20 PROSPAL, 42 ANISIMOV, 10 GABORIK
Forward Line 2: 17 DUBINSKY, 21 STEPAN, 19 FEDOTENKO
Forward Line 3: 86 WOLKSKI, 22 BOYLE, 8 PRUST
Forward Line 4: 16 AVERY, 26 CHRISTENSEN, 23 DRURY
Defense Pair 1: 18 STAAL, 5 GIRARDI
Defense Pair 2: 27 MCDONAGH, 38 SAUER
Defense Pair 3: 28 MCCABE, 97 GILROY
Goalie: 30 LUNDQVIST
Back-up Goalie: 29 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD

NYR – BIRON (broken collarbone) IR, BOOGAARD (concussion) IR, FROLOV (knee) IR, CALLAHAN (ankle) IR

Preview:

With a 2-0 lead in the series the Capitals have an opportunity to put a death grip on the Rangers chances. To do it, Washington will have to win Game #3 in New York. The Caps were very good on the road this year but this will be the first chance to show that they have that killer instinct that all great teams have. Expect New York to come out flying with great desperation. They gave the Capitals a big dose of it in the first period of Game #2 but Capitals rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth held them in check. The Capitals need to start in the way they started the second period of Game #2. Using their strong forecheck and speed they will need to turn the play against the aggression of the Rangers. The Caps have been very adept at winning the board battles so far so watch for the Capitals sense of urgency in Game #3. This should be an even more physical game than the previous two. Washington has bent but not broken on defense and allowed only 1 goal against in almost 7 periods of play. Look for another Washington shot blocking exposition in Game #3 and I expect Capitals to keep the pressure on and take this one with a strong, convincing effort.  

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 NYR 1



Playoff Round 1 Game #2 Recap: Caps 2 New York Rangers 0

New York managed 22 shots on goal and Michal Neuvirth was up to the task. The Capitals rookie goalie stopped all 22 for a shutout victory and a 2-0 series lead. Another strong defensive effort from the Capitals stifled the New York attack which saw the Caps block 21 Ranger shots. With a strong surge to begin the game the Rangers out shot Washington in the first period 13-7. The game was played at a fanatic pace with both teams trading big hits all over the ice. Alex Ovechkin really threw his weight around and it appeared to be working on the defensive pair of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. The Rangers top pair seemed to wilt as the game went on. The Capitals pressed early in the second period and broke through on a good shift from the third line. The Caps kept the pressure on the Rangers in their own zone and Brooks Laich, after initiating contact with the Ranger defenseman, made a strong one handed pass from behind the net to Marcus Johansson in the left wing circle. Johansson quickly sent it to the crease where Jason Chimera one-timed it into the net. One minute and fifty-seven seconds later the Capitals made it 2-0. While on the power play Mike Green took a pass from Ovechkin and fired a slap shot from the right point. The shot hit a body in front of the net and caromed directly onto Jason Arnott's stick in the left wing circle. Arnott calmly settled the puck and fired it home before Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist get across the crease giving the Caps a 2-0 lead. The Rangers were stunned and took their timeout to regroup but the Caps wouldn't allow them to generate many scoring chances the rest of the way. The Caps allowed just 7 shots on goal in the third period and Neuvirth gobbled up anything that came his way. The series now shifts to New York for Games 3 and 4 with the Caps up 2 games to none.

Of Note:
  • Jason Chimera now has 2 game-winning goals in 9 playoff appearances with the Capitals. His line with Brooks Laich and Marcus Johansson was buzzing all night long. The trio combined for 7 of Washington's 17 shots on goal and 7 hits. Laich was excellent in the dot winning 6 of 9 draws.
  • Michal Neuvirth in his first career playoff shutout stopped all 22 shots he faced. His play in the first period was spectacular with several key saves that stemmed the Ranger initial push.
  • While Alex Ovechkin didn't score a goal, his presents was felt all over the ice. He recorded 6 hits and was fearless on the forecheck. He picked up an assist on the Arnott power play goal and has 42 points in 30 career post season games.
  • Jason Arnott, who was dealt for at the trade deadline, scored on the power play and has points in both games of the series. His leadership has been such a positive influence on this Washington team.
  • The Caps went 1 for 3 on the power play and killed off both New York advantages and nearly scored a shorthanded goal. The penalty kill has been a strength for the Caps all year long.
  • Karl Alzner and the rest of the defense continued their excellent play blocking shots and winning the key battles along the boards. Alzner has 11 blocked shots in the series and his tandem with John Carlson has been playing against the Rangers top line. Not bad for a couple of rookies.
  • Mike Green recorded an assist and doesn't look like he missed 20+ games prior to the series. His ability to skate the puck from harm is huge in this series. In 16:29 of ice time he had 1 assist, 1 shot on goal, 1 hit and 2 blocked shots.
  • Finally rookie Marcus Johansson got his first career playoff point with an assist on the Chimera goal along with 1 shot on goal, 1 hit and 2 blocked shots.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Playoff Round #1 Game #2 Preview: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals



Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  April 15, 2011, 7:30 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. NYR: 3-2
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. NYR: 16-14
Last Meeting: 2009, WAS 4 NYR 3

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

NYR Record: 44-33-5
Standings Points: 93
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 8th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 1-2-1
Nov. 9, 2010 WAS 5 NYR 3
Dec. 12, 2010 WAS 0 NYR 7
Jan. 24, 2011 WAS 1 NYR 2 (OT-SO)
Feb. 25, 2011 WAS 0 NYR 6

Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 13, 2011 WAS 2 NYR 1 (OT)
Apr. 15, 2011 at Washington
Apr. 17, 2011 at New York
Apr. 20, 2011 at New York
Apr. 23, 2011 at Washington*
Apr. 25, 2011 at New York*
Apr. 27, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 52 GREEN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

New York
Forward Line 1: 20 PROSPAL, 42 ANISIMOV, 10 GABORIK
Forward Line 2: 17 DUBINSKY, 21 STEPAN, 19 FEDOTENKO
Forward Line 3: 86 WOLKSKI, 22 BOYLE, 8 PRUST
Forward Line 4: 36 ZUCCARELLO, 26 CHRISTENSEN, 23 DRURY
Defense Pair 1: 18 STAAL, 5 GIRARDI
Defense Pair 2: 27 MCDONAGH, 38 SAUER
Defense Pair 3: 28 MCCABE, 97 GILROY
Goalie: 30 LUNDQVIST
Back-up Goalie: 29 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD

NYR – BIRON (broken collarbone) IR, BOOGAARD (concussion) IR, FROLOV (knee) IR, CALLAHAN (ankle) IR

Preview:

The Capitals took Game #1 in overtime with Alexander Semin scoring the game winning goal. For Semin it was his first playoff goal since scoring against the Rangers in 2009. Keep watch on the Capitals second lie as I think they are the key to Washington’s success in this series. Michal Neuvirth fared quite well in his playoff debut but he needs to be aware that the Rangers have said that they need to generate more scoring chances and have vowed to get in Neuvy’s grill to do it. The defense will need to be aware of this and punish anyone taking liberties with their young goalie. Game #2 will have the same grind it out defensive tone as Game #1 so look for more board battles and clogged neutral zones. The two teams combined for 60 blocked shots in the first game so the Capitals should look to their go to the goal guys, Mike Knuble and Brooks Laich, because it looks like ugly goals are going to be the order of this series. I am thinking that the Ranger will press early in this game trying to get more offense but that will leave them vulnerable to counter attack. The Caps will exploit this and come away with another close victory.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 NYR 1


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