Rangers-Capitals: The Invisible Men, Playoffs Edition
By now everyone knows who Alexander Ovechkin is. Same goes for Alex Semin, Niklas Backstrom, and even young Simeon Varlamov. The Capitals find themselves on the brink of elimination against the Rangers because many "key" guys have not shown up in this series, not because of Ovie, Semin, and Varly.
Oh where, oh where has Mike Green gone? The Norris finalist, power-play anchor, and puck-rushing defenseman had (arguably) the best season by a defenseman since the days of Raymond Bourque and Paul Coffey. Green was magic with the puck, on the power play, and controlling end-to-end rushes at even strength.
In this series, Green has been slow, sloppy, and careless. He has (at times) left his defensive position to throw a poorly timed hit, or taken his eyes off his passing target—both causing turnovers.
Mike Green, please come back. The Capitals need you.
Speaking of needing you, where are the third and fourth lines for the Capitals? It is easy to see why Ovechkin double shifts. However, you need grit, checking, trapping, and a couple of shut-down lines to neutralize the opposition when the guns are resting.
Aside from David Steckel, whom I think has had a very strong series, the Caps have received little to nothing from Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Matt Bradley, and Tomas Fleishmann.
The New York Rangers have been matching lines well, and using the Capitals' tendency to stay out on the ice too long to their advantage. When the poor changes are made, and the second-tier players like Fehr and Bradley have to scramble, they end up out of position and giving up chances.
The series still rests on the shoulders of Alexander Ovechkin. The Caps can still steal Game Five at home on the backs of Varlamov, and the Russian attack.
However, for the team to do that, and go back to New York, and push the series to a seventh game, the Caps have to get help from the fringe players and the stars that have not been shining this postseason.
I'd like to see the Caps wake up and make the Rangers work for it, rather than just allowing Henrik Lundqvist to steal the series outright. I know they are capable...they just have to find a way. It will take a big response from the entire team Friday night at the Verizon Center.
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