Dan Rosen at NHL.com feels that improved play through the middle of the ice will be important for the Rangers if they want to even up this series…
"The Capitals see the neutral zone as the most important area on the ice for their system. They want to apply pressure there to force turnovers. They even play a risky style to do it by pushing up their forwards and defensemen."
Ryan McDonagh agrees…
"One thing we talked about was we were able to get pucks into that neutral zone and we weren't strong enough on stick battles, loose pucks. We were reaching with one hand as opposed to skating and reaching with two hands. I think we got better as the game went on as far as winning battles there, but we want to try to start the game with a strong neutral zone."
…having a bigger, stronger line-up is likely what the Rangers need to maintain better puck possession as well as winning this loose puck battles in the neutral zone. Let's hope for appearances from Clowe and Dorsett today.
…getting Staal back would be huge as well. As his puck moving ability through the neutral zone is a very under-rated part of his game.Really not much offense being generated from the defense since he went down.
…and when the Capitals are looking to advance the puck through the middle of the ice let's hope McD and Girardi have their heads on a swivel today.