Just when the New York Rangers finished battling perennial Hart Trophy candidate Sidney Crosby in the first round, another stellar veteran is playing at Madison Square Garden in the second round, and causing just as much trouble.
After Crosby put up four points and generally made life difficult for the Rangers in their uber-tight five-game series with the Penguins, Alex Ovechkin has taken over where Crosby left off, collecting three points in the first two games of the series. With the best-of-seven now tied at one a piece, the Rangers need to find a way to control the Russian wunderkind now that the Washington Capitals have taken control of home ice advantage.
At this point, the odds to win the 2015 Stanley Cup at this online sportsbook favor the Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks, all three of which are tied at +300, but coming into Monday night both Chicago and Anaheim hold commanding two-game leads in their respective series.
The way Ovechkin is playing right now—roaming the ice freely and creating chances every time he touches the puck—there’s only so much that can be done to shut him down. For that reason, the focus for now should go towards avoiding giving Ovie any extra advantages. In Games 1 and 2, the Rangers only gave the Capitals three powerplays. Staying out of the box the rest of the way will be critical.
Ovechkin aside, Rick Nash could stand to make his mark on the scoresheet in this series. The big man has certainly impacted the flow of play, creating chances and roughing opponents up around the ice, but at a certain point the top tier talent on Cup contenders must produce.
Speaking of leaders, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been taking care of his end of things in these playoffs, posting a 1.67 GAA and even more impressive .938 save percentage through seven games. And why not: after scoring a pretty goal against him, Ovechkin was sure to taunt Lundqvist.
Here’s hoping this great series never ends.