The Capital team the Rangers will face beginning tomorrow night will look nothing like the team they faced last postseason or even the one that they secured five of six points against earlier this season.
While last year's version of the Capitals under Dale Hunter played a grinding, shot blocking style similar to the Rangers, this year, new head coach Adam Oates has them playing a more up-tempo game that took awhile to click says Katie Carrera at the Washington Post…
"But Washington, under Coach Adam Oates, plays an aggressive, pressure-based style in all three zones that thrives off creating neutral-zone turnovers. The Capitals want to protect their own zone and limit quality chances against their goaltenders, but they’d rather do it by spending time in the offensive zone."
Karl Azner feels that this new style allows the Capitals to maintain that grinding style while also opening up the offense…
“I feel better. I was very confident in what we did last year but the games were so tight always, we never blew a game open. Where as this year I think we can still play in those tight games but we can still blow games open. I feel very confident in the team now, the way we’ve been playing. I don’t think I’ve felt as good going into playoffs since I’ve been with Hershey. That’s a good sign, I think.”
…while the Capitals new game plan might work against Florida, Tampa and Carolina, I think it'll backfire against the Rangers. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the few opportunities to present themselves, the Rangers can be aggressive in taking advantage of the Capitals pressure offense by using their transition game from defense to offense to expose some of Washington's weaknesses.
…while I think this series will go seven, I agree with Azner that Washington's new style will lead to a few of these games being won by three or four goals instead of all the one goal games we saw last season.
Carrera also takes a look at the top five storylines of the series.