Alan May breaks down what needs to be done in Game 7
Game 7 by the numbers: The Caps are 3-8 all-time in Game 7s. The Rangers are 5-5, but 0-5 in Game 7s on the road.
Return of Laich?: It might seem like a long shot, but could we see the triumphant return of Brooks Laich in Game 7 tonight? The Caps’ 29-year-old left wing has been trying to get himself up to speed after having a groin-related procedure in early April. He has not played in a game since April 4 and played in just nine games this season. The Caps went 6-2-1 in those games. Caps coach Adam Oates has not ruled out the return of Laich for Game 7. “I know he wants to,” Oates said on Saturday, “but winning [Game 5] bought us a day. We'll have to wait and see.” If Laich returns to the lineup, look for rookie Tom Wilson to come out. Wilson took just five shifts in Game 6, one in the third period, and logged 5:12 of ice time, recording one shot and one hit.
Green OK: Caps defenseman Mike Green, who leads the club in average ice time in the playoffs at 25:34, appeared to take a skate in the head in the game-ending scrum that ensued following Game 6. A Capitals spokesman said late Sunday night that Green was “fine.” If there is any chance Green misses tonight’s game, rookie defenseman Tomas Kundratek or veterans Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz are possible options.
Benching Brad: Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn’t need to say much to let his players know how he feels. In Game 6 on Sunday Tortorella bumped center Brad Richards to a fourth line with Arron Asham and Chris Kreider and gave him just 9:34 of ice time and just two shifts in the third period. Richards, who was third on the Rangers with 34 points in the regular season, has one goal and is a minus-2 in the series.
Ovi watch: Alex Ovechkin had a strong Game 6 with five shots on goal, three that were blocked and four that missed the net. He had Henrik Lundqvist beaten in the second period but had the puck roll off his stick on an attempted backhander. He also delivered three hits and blocked two shots in 19:03 of ice time. Yet through six games Ovechkin has just one goal on 29 shots, one assist and is a minus-2.
Nash watch: Rangers left wing Rick Nash has not been any better. He managed just one shot and two hits in 17:46 of work in Game 6. Through six games Nash has no goals on 20 shots, eight of them coming in Game 1, and one assist.
Dueling goalies: Through six games Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have had quite a goaltending battle. Lundqvist is 3-3 with a 1.91 GAA, .937 save percentage and one shutout. Holtby is 3-3 with a 1.77 GAA, .938 save percentage and one shutout. In two career Game 7s, Holtby is 1-1 with a 1.48 GAA and .952 save percentage. In three career Game 7s, Lundqvist is 1-2 with a 1.33 GAA and .946 save percentage.
Leaders through six: For the Capitals it’s Mike Green [2 goals, 4 points], Mathieu Perreault [4 points], Joel Ward [4 points], Karl Alzner [plus-4], Alex Ovechkin [29 shots, 21 hits], John Carlson [22 blocked shots] and Nicklas Backstrom [60 faceoff wins]. For the Rangers it’s Derrick Brassard [2 goal, 7 points, Carl Hagelin [2 goals], Brian Boyle [2 goals], Rick Nash [20 shots], Ryan Callahan [28 hits], Dan Girardi [plus-4, 21 blocked shots] and Derek Stepan [66 faceoff wins].
Home-ice advantage: Dating back to Game 5 of the 2009 conference quarterfinals the Capitals are 10-1 in their last 11 home playoff games against the Rangers at Verizon Center. Their only loss in that span was a triple overtime defeat in Game 3 of last year’s conference semifinals.
Rematch: The Capitals and Rangers are the first NHL teams to play a Game 7 in back-to-back years since Colorado and Los Angeles did so in 2001-02. This will be the fifth time in NHL history two teams will meet in Game 7 in back-to-back seasons.