NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: How the Washington Capitals Can Win in New York

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IMay 5, 2012

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: How the Washington Capitals Can Win in New York

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    The NHL's main attraction Saturday pitted the New York Rangers against the Washington Capitals.

    Coming in a game up in the series, the Rangers were hoping to push the Capitals' collective backs up against the wall in what would make their return to New York the first Eastern elimination game.

    The Caps would have none of it.

    Alexander Ovechkin got the scoring started, followed by fellow young guns Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green with the game-winning power-play goal. 

    The Capitals are two wins away from the Eastern Conference Finals, somewhere they have never been during the Alexander Ovechkin era. 

    The following are some tips on how the Capitals should look upon the upcoming Game 5 in New York on Monday Night. 

Keep Beating Up Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh

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    When the Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins, they did so by not being pushed around by the biggest bullies the NHL had to offer. 

    While the Caps didn't come anywhere close to matching Boston's size, they did match their grit and won the battles they needed to win along the boards, in those hard-to-get areas, and in the faceoff circles. 

    One that thing that has impressed me tremendously is Alexander Ovechkin's penchant for going after Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, the Rangers' top defensive pairing. 

    Ovechkin has made it known to Dan Girardi that Girardi cannot cover him without feeling the pain.

    Although it has been mostly clean fun to this point, Ovechkin's recent hit to Girardi might be looked at by the NHL's discipline office. 

    Even if some disciplinary action is handed down, the Capitals have made it clear that they are and always will be the tougher team. 

Get Bodies in Front of the Net

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    How many times have we seen a power play with two deep at the blue line, one behind the net and two on opposite sides of the ice? 

    That kind of power play won't work against Vezina candidate Henrik Lundqvist. 

    If the Capitals are going to have continued success at the hands of offensive defensemen—Mike Green, John Carlson and Dennis Wideman—coach Dale Hunter is going to have to demand a body must always be obstructing King Henrik's view all the time.

    The Caps have plenty of niche players like Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer who can crash the net, screen the goalie and put any loose pucks home. 

    Role players have been the key to success since the playoffs started, it only makes sense the second- and third-line guys are going to cash in and make their money on a power play that demands rough and tumble play. 

Always Make Sure a Defensive Forward Is in Play

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    One of the reasons I have noticed the New Jersey Devils have been so successful against the Flyers is that whenever Philadelphia is rushing down the ice, two New Jersey defensemen always have another Devils forward nearby.

    If the Capitals can bring down the number of odd-man rushes or flat out eliminate them from New York's forwards, the Rangers are going to have an incredibly difficult time getting goals. 

    The bottom-six forwards have shown a willingness to play both sides of the puck and give 100 percent every shift. If the Ovechkin and Semin lines can keep a man ready to jump back and help the defense, it's going to give the Rangers fits.

Trust in Roman Hamrlik

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    The Capitals' version of Danny Briere.

    Has there been a better turnaround story than Roman Hamrlik? 

    Once the subject of endless trade debate and fans calling for his head, Hamrlik has shifted into his top gear he didn't seem to want to show us during the regular season.

    Roman is 38 years young and despite having been in the league for 18 years, he has never made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

    One has to figure that the Caps' resident elder is giving all he's got and then some.

    Everything we expected out of the old Czech is coming to fruition. Roman's ability to cover Caps' top offensive defenseman Mike Green is nothing short of amazing, as it's something we've all hoped for.