Sunday, April 17, 2011
W2W4: Game 3, Capitals vs. Rangers
By Mike Hume
Though the Rangers' two-games-to-none hole is daunting, it doesn't signal the end of the line yet. Should they fail to emerge with two home wins over the next four days, then things get a little dicier. It's no secret that to get those W's their offense will have to be considerably better than it's been thus far in the series. So with that key note in mind, here's what to watch for when the puck drops at the Garden Sunday afternoon.
The Caps keeper has been very solid, but he hasn't yet had to be spectacular. Neuvirth's strength is his positioning and staying square to the shooter. However he's not that big for a goalie in today's NHL and he's not quite as athletic as his counterpart and teammate Semyon Varlamov. The Rangers need to get traffic to the front of the net and screen the slightly small stopper. And making him move across the crease a little couldn't hurt either. Considering the Rangers have been getting a lot of their shots blocked by the Caps' D anyway, the extra pass might be a smart idea.
Respect The Completion
Marian Gaborik's scoring struggles this season have been well documented, but the first two games this series he's created some good chances for himself -- he just hasn't been able to convert. If those chances weren't coming, I'd say it was futile to hope for a breakout, but it feels like a matter of time before the Rangers' top goal scorer starts to convert them. For the Rangers' sake, today would be the right time for his luck to change.
Don't Forget the D
Washington's disciplined defensive approach has been phenomenal in the first two games. Look at some of the highlights from Games 1 and 2 and you'll see as many as five skaters below the circles, including Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin who, in the past, have tended to cheat while looking for breakout passes. Having five skaters below the circles makes life very tough on opposing forwards and clogs up lanes to the net, but it should give the Rangers blueliners a little more space to work with. If the forwards can deliver the puck back to the blueline as the D collapses in, they could have some nice shot attempts through traffic.