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The Rangers could learn a lot from Ovechkin's work on Chara yesterday
Working off the former point, the Rangers have to answer physically, but all while using their heads. They have to be smart about when and how they decide to step up physically.
The best example of this was during yesterday’s game between the Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals. Alexander Ovechkin and Zdeno Chara have been working on each other most of that series.
Yesterday, Chara tried to get something going in front of his own net, and instead of responding immediately, Ovechkin ignored him and drew a penalty.
Ovechkin has answered the bell most of the series, throwing hits and shoving back when necessary after a play is over. Here, he drew a penalty and gave his team a power play. He has not backed down all series, but in this instance, he took an opportunity to give his team an advantage. That’s real smart hockey.
The Rangers must do the same thing.
Rather than predictably punching back and receiving a matching minor, step back and enjoy a power play from time to time. It’s not that they should stop hitting or standing their ground. There is just something to the idea of being smart about your play rather than swinging back at your opponent every chance you get. The time for sending messages is over; it’s time to bury the puck and win hockey games.
Take the body when you can, but be smart about when and how you decide to do it.