When all is said and done, what will be the difference in the second-round tug-of-war between the Capitals and Rangers?
Special teams, Brooks Laich said matter-of-factly. It always comes down to that.
Through the first three games of the series the Capitals are 1-for-10 on the power play. The Rangers have gone 2-for-11.
The Caps have been going with a top unit of Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman at the points and Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johanssson and Troy Brouwer up front. Wideman said the key is getting pucks through the Rangers shot-blocking forwards Ryan Callahan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and Derek Stepan.
Theyre the best shot-blocking team in the league, Wideman said. Their forwards do a great job of getting in that shooting lane and timing it well. You might think you have a lane and all of a sudden they slide in front at the perfect time. Weve got to get around that by faking shots, get them down and move it to the open guy.
Mike Green, whos been quarterbacking a second unit with John Carlson, Brooks Laich, Alexander Semin and Keith Aucoin, says the best way to find those lanes is by moving quickly in the offensive zone.
We stand still a little too much, he said. If we can walk across the blue line and get these guys moving there will be some lanes to shoot.
Wideman said hes not entirely disappointed in the puck movement of the Capitals power play, just its lack of production.
I thought we moved it around well last game, but there were times when the puck just bounced the wrong way, Wideman said. I had a shot fall right onto Ovis stick and he didnt see it and Dan Girardi just got his stick in there to poke it away.
Capitals coach Dale Hunter does not appear ready to make any changes to either of the two units, saying hard work is the answer to most power play shortcomings.
You always want to score, he said. We had some good chances on it. We need to get more pucks and more traffic to the net. Their penalty killers are working hard, so youve got to match their work ethic. Weve got to outwork them on the power plays to get scoring chances.