Author: Ryan Dadoun

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Three

Capitals’ third line stands out in Game 3

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It seems premature to even talk about the possibility of the Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup, but if it happens, it likely won’t be because Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom carried them there. They’ll have to be major contributors, but Chicago didn’t capture the Cup twice exclusively because Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were at the top of their game just as Pittsburgh didn’t win it all in 2009 thanks solely to Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.

Winning a championship typically requires star players in key areas, but it also demands depth. The Blackhawks have it and at one time so did the Penguins. The most dangerous teams in the league can get key performances out of their third line. That was the case tonight for Washington as Jay Beagle, Andre Burakovsky, and Troy Brouwer had a great game. The trio combined for the lone goal in Washington’s 1-0 win over the Rangers in Game 3, but that’s not all they did, as Bob McKenzie noted:

“I sort of said, we’re going to need some new heroes every night,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.

Of course the Rangers are still very much in their second round series. If Washington is to capitalize on its 2-1 edge, it will need help from a variety of different players.

Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead

Braden Holtby
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For the third straight game, the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers were separated by just one goal. Thanks to a Jay Beagle’s marker, it was the Capitals that came out ahead 1-0 on Monday to take a 2-1 series lead.

This was truly a goaltending duel as even Beagle’s goal was the result of a shot that bounced off Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle’s skate right next to the line. It would have consequently been very difficult for Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to stop it. In fact, Lundqvist has been great so far in the 2015 playoffs and the fact that the Rangers now find themselves trailing shouldn’t be put on his shoulders.

Rather than put too much blame on the Rangers in general, it seems appropriate to credit Capitals netminder Braden Holtby. The 25-year-old saved 30 shots to earn his first shutout of the playoffs. The Rangers had some good chances in this one, including this literally last minute attempt by Rick Nash:

Nash fired a team-high seven shots on goal, but is still stuck at just one goal in seven playoff games this year. Postseason woes are nothing new for him as he has six goals in 49 career playoff contests compared to 378 markers in 862 regular season games. His drought is particularly glaring considering that he found the back of the net a career-high 42 times in 2014-15.

The Rangers need to hope that he finds a way to solve Holtby in Game 4 because while their situation isn’t desperate yet, it wouldn’t take much for it to reach that level.

Colorado College, University of Denver will play at Coors Field

Coors Field
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The University of Denver has announced that they will be playing against the Colorado College Tigers in an outdoor game at Coors Field. The NCAA contest is scheduled for Feb. 20, a week before the Red Wings and Avalanche play outside as part of the 2016 Stadium Series.

“It’s going to be awesome,” DU junior center Quentin Shore told the Denver Post. “We all watch the outdoor games and it will be a dream come true to play in one. The fact that we get to play CC in downtown Denver is unreal.”

The festivities will also include an alumni game between the Red Wings and Avalanche. The two franchises were fierce rivals in the mid-90s through early 2000s.

Before the Red Wings and Avalanche play outdoors, Minnesota will host Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium on Feb. 21. The Winter Classic will feature Montreal and Boston in Gillette Stadium.

Video: Capitals strike first on Beagle’s determination goal

Beagle goal
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Neither the New York Rangers or Washington Capitals could get an edge in the first period of Game 3 tonight, but that changed 7:31 minutes into the second thanks to Washington forward Jay Beagle.

Beagle fired the puck wide of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, but he chased after it and was able to retrieve his own shot while behind the net. Beagle wrapped around and shot the puck towards the goal. Once more the puck was heading away from the net, but this time it hit Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle’s skate and went in.

You can see that sequence below:

That was Beagle’s first goal of the 2015 playoffs and it was also Andre Burakovsky’s first career point in a postseason game. The 20-year-old rookie had nine goals and 22 points in 53 regular season contests.

Washington is 3-0 in the playoffs when scoring first.

Shero aims to bolster Devils offensively

Ray Shero
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Lou Lamoriello announced today that he’ll be handing over the general manager’s job to Ray Shero while retaining his position as team president. Shero appreciates all that Lamoriello has done since taking over in 1987, but in light of New Jersey’s recent struggles, he also wants to do things a bit differently.

“Lou and I have discussed a lot of things as far as philosophy. I’m not Lou and I’m not like Lou. And he’s not like me. We’re different,” Shero told NJ Advance Media. “There are a lot of different philosophies that we do share, but when you look Pittsburgh and New Jersey they are certainly different teams.

“You look at the Devils and it’s about his defensive philosophy. That’s been very successful for them. But in terms of where the are now and moving forward to be successful, let’s be honest. There has to be a complement of that with a philosophy of offensive hockey and scoring more goals. If not, there is not much room for error. Without that, goaltending and team defense can only take you so far.”

Shero has a lot of experience with offensively gifted teams from his days with Pittsburgh, but then, he had plenty to work with in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Devils ranked 28th in goals per game last season, but it’s not as if their defense-first approach has always gone hand-in-hand with offensive anemia. New Jersey was a middle-of-the-road team offensively in 2011-12 when it last made the playoffs and went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Back then the Devils had Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and Zach Parise leading the charge though. Parise and Kovalchuk have since left the team while Elias turned 39 in April.

Filling the void left by the departure of superstars is an extremely difficult task, but it’s the one Shero inherited. He’s already got a strong goaltending tandem in Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid and a promising blueline. Whether or not he is able to elevate the Devils’ offense to at least respectable levels could determine how his tenure with New Jersey will ultimately be viewed.