If the Rangers do one thing during their playoff series against the Capitals, it must be to stay out of the box.
Not only did the Capitals have the number one power play in the NHL with a 28.6% success rate (44 power play goals) this season, they generated just 63.7 percent of their total goals via even-strength play, which amongst playoff teams, only Detroit generated less of its offense playing five on five this year.
While the Rangers were the least penalized team in the NHL (183 penalties), their penalty kill, which was such a strength of the team last year (5th in the NHL), has been inconsistent all season (15th in the NHL) as they've failed to adequately replace guys like Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust and Brandon Dubinsky.
Here's Henrik Lundqvist on the importance of cutting down on their penalties (via Washington Post)...
“I think going into the playoffs special teams always play a big part, but playing a team that’s red hot on the power play, we know we can’t take too many penalties and we also know special teams will play a huge part. It’s a lot of times also when you play five on five it’s so tight, a lot of times games are decided on the PK and power play.”
...discipline, discipline, discipline. If the Rangers can stay out of the box, they will win this series. Period.
...the Capitals have a number of guys on their power play who move the puck real well (Ribiero, Backstrom) and they will be looking to set-up either Ovechkin or Green for one-timers all day long. Rangers need to clog up the passing lines and force the Capitals to stay along the perimeter.
...the Capitals power play personnel aren't exactly Jan Erixon defensively, so the Rangers should have a some opportunities short-handed that I hope they can take advantage of.
And if the Capitals are able to get their passes through the Rangers penalty kill, here's where they'll likely be shooting on Henrik Lundqvist (via ESPN)...