Even without Mats Zuccarello, the New York Rangers will still pose a speedy challenge for the Washington Capitals when the two teams kick off their second-round series tonight at MSG.
“I think [Carl] Hagelin and [Chris] Kreider jump out as probably their top speed guys,” Caps d-man Brooks Orpik said, per NHL.com. “I think from video we have watched it’s more the way they play than the individual speed. If you turn the puck over, the transition from their defense to the forwards with those stretch passes is good. It forces teams to play fast so that’ll be really important. We need to manage the puck well so they don’t hit us with that transition speed.”
As Orpik noted, not only can some of the Rangers really skate, their coach, Alain Vigneault, demands his players move the puck quickly.
“It’s about making good, clean passes to our forwards to help them get up the ice,” d-man Keith Yandle learned upon joining the Rangers from Arizona, per NHL.com.
But remember, these are Barry Trotz’s Capitals now. Washington plays with the kind of patience and structure that can stifle a good offense, as we saw Monday when John Tavares and the New York Islanders were held to just 11 shots.
“They really respect the way their coach wants them to play,” said Rangers center Derrick Brassard, per CBS New York. “They have a really good structure now. Their players are willing to pay the price. They’re competing real hard. That’s why they’re having a lot of success this year.”
Related: Here’s the second-round schedule