The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals have two great goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby, but their netminders also get a lot of support. In the first round of the playoffs, the Rangers and Capitals led the league with 155 and 139 blocked shots respectively.
To put that in perspective, their first round opponents – the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators – only blocked a combined 172 shots.
“It’s definitely huge. Everyone knows that. Everyone knows you have to pay, [to] sacrifice to win in the playoffs,” goaltender Holtby said. “We did that in the first round. Obviously, the Rangers are known for doing it. It’s a challenge for our guys to get it through and on [Henrik] Lundqvist, and I don’t think we’ll be taking any steps back in terms of sacrificing.”
Of course, with both teams trying to get in front of as many shots as possible, they’ll have to modify their offensive strategy a bit to compensate.
“You have to try to miss the net a little bit. You just have to the shoot by the block,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “You can’t hit the net as much so you have to miss the net by 10 feet and then hopefully it bounces back out in front.”
It’s worth noting that Washington and New York also employed a pretty physical style of play in the first round. This might turn into a painful series for those on the ice.