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Posted On Thursday, 05.14.2015 / 1:20 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

McDonagh 'outstanding' for Rangers in Game 7

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault needed one word to describe captain Ryan McDonagh in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

"Outstanding," was his concise appraisal.

McDonagh, who had been playing big minutes alongside defense partner Dan Girardi throughout the series, turned in another stellar effort in leading his team to a 2-1 overtime victory.


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 1:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

Green focused on Game 7, not future with Capitals

NEW YORK -- Mike Green, the longest tenured defenseman on the Washington Capitals, wasn't in any mood to discuss his future with the organization hours before Game 7 on Wednesday against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Second Round series at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, is just looking forward to helping the only team he's ever played for advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite being the subject of numerous rumors prior to the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2, the 29-year-old is not thinking about the possibility of this being his final game as a member of the Capitals.

"It's not on my mind; we'll see what happens," Green said. "Right now all I care about is playing for as long as I can [with the Capitals] and [Wednesday] is the night we need to continue it. There are too many friendships and pals I've made over the years; I wouldn't want to go to the Stanley Cup Final with any other group of guys."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.13.2015 / 12:17 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

Rangers' Lundqvist has proven to be Game 7 king

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has built a reputation as being a top performer in the face of elimination during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I've only been here a short time but that's the reputation [Lundqvist] has around the League," Rangers forward Tanner Glass said Wednesday. "He's a big-game goalie."

Lundqvist will look to continue that trend in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

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Posted On Sunday, 05.10.2015 / 12:54 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Matthews continues to mull options for 2015-16

Auston Matthews, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, still is mulling his options on where he will continue his hockey career in 2015-16.

Matthews confirmed Sunday that in addition to the NCAA and Canadian Hockey League route, he is considering playing in Switzerland. He didn't identify which team he was considering but did say it likely would be with a team in the top division of the Swiss professional league.

"I am looking at all opportunities," Matthews told NHL.com via a text message. "Switzerland, Everett [Silvertips in the Western Hockey League] and the CHL, as well as the NCAA are all great options for me. I am speaking with my family and advisers Pat Brisson and Judd Moldaver and will probably make a decision soon."

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Posted On Friday, 05.08.2015 / 12:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

Rangers looking to stave off elimination in Game 5

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers have yet to experience a galvanizing moment against the Washington Capitals in their Eastern Conference Second Round series.

That moment potentially could take place Friday in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). The Rangers trail the best-of-7 series 3-1 and need to win three straight to keep their season alive.

A win on Friday would go a long way in instilling some confidence in the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers. It might also plant, perhaps, a seed of doubt into the minds of players on the Capitals.

"A win could do that, yes," Rangers forward J.T. Miller said. "We need a big moment to turn the series around, we're down 3-1. And it's not just about getting the big guys going because everybody needs to step up."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.07.2015 / 4:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

Capitals limiting Rangers offense with blocked shots

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers are discovering the Washington Capitals to be a much more well-balanced and determined group in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than the one they faced during the regular season.

The Rangers won three of four games against the Capitals in the regular season but find themselves trailing their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series 3-1 entering Game 5 on Friday at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Rangers center Dominic Moore said the Capitals are committed to coming to the aide of goaltender Braden Holtby whenever possible. The Capitals have 86 blocked shots in four games against the Rangers, including 52 in two victories at Verizon Center.

The Rangers have 46 blocked shots.

"They are a little bit more pronounced in the philosophy of how they've caving up in front of Holtby, and they've done a good job of that," Rangers forward Dominic Moore said. "They've waited for their opportunities and they've capitalized on them, so they've been pretty consistent with it in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.06.2015 / 2:12 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Erie's McDavid sets sights on OHL championship

What is the formula to stopping Erie Otters captain Connor McDavid in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs?

Oshawa Generals coach D.J. Smith hopes to that out beginning Friday when the Generals play the Otters in Game 1 of the Ontario Hockey League best-of-7 championship series in Oshawa.

McDavid, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, had eight goals and 19 points in a six-game series victory against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the conference final last week. He leads all playoff performers in the Canadian Hockey League with 19 goals and 42 points and is averaging 2.80 points per game in 15 postseason games. McDavid has at least one point in all 15 playoff games, the longest streak in the OHL since Taylor Hall had points in 16 straight games for the Windsor Spitfires in the 2010 playoffs.

That 2010 Windsor team with Hall, who went on to be taken by the Edmonton Oilers with the first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, had Smith as an associate coach.

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Posted On Sunday, 05.03.2015 / 4:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Prospect Matthews caps big year with USA Hockey

Just when 17-year-old Auston Matthews thought his season couldn't get any better, he scored a goal for the United States Men's National Team in an exhibition game in late April at the 2015 IIHF Men's World Championship in Vienna, Austria.

It was a fitting way for Matthews to cap off an incredible 2014-15 season in which he established two records with the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program (USNTDP), earned a fifth-place finish for the U.S. at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, and won a gold medal as an alternate captain for his country at the 2015 IIHF U-18 World Championship.

"Initially I was in awe; I was excited to play at that stage," Matthews said. "When I got there it was everything I could have imagined playing with NHL players like Trevor Lewis and Matt Hendricks and guys like that who are really established in the NHL. It was really cool and an honor to be around those guys. They were all super nice and very welcoming."

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Posted On Friday, 05.01.2015 / 4:09 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

Trotz has Capitals playing on an even keel

NEW YORK -- The Washington Capitals have proven to be a resilient bunch during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The core of this team, that includes captain Alex Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom, seems content that getting the job done in even the most tense situation is not a big deal, a sign that Washington could be playing with more maturity and a renewed confidence.

The Capitals will look to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round series when they play Game 2 against the New York Rangers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"It goes back to first game of our first-round series [against the New York Islanders]," Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said. "We lost that game and could have gotten down, but we wanted to bounce back and wanted to come out with the win. I thought we had a good response against the Rangers in the first game of this series when they tied the game late in the third, and we still had enough left to win it."

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Posted On Friday, 05.01.2015 / 10:18 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Capitals series blog

Ovechkin dominant for Capitals in Game 1

NEW YORK -- There are times that Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin is performing like a player possessed.

Ovechkin certainly appeared in that state of mind during a 2-1 victory against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

His first-period goal against Henrik Lundqvist was majestic. His assist to right wing Joel Ward for the game-winner with 1.3 seconds remaining in the third period was highlight reel-worthy.

"He made an unbelievable pass across his body; he was almost behind the net," Ward said after the game.

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Quote of the Day

Obviously there's a lot of expectations around me but it's something I try not to focus on. I'm just trying to go out there, be myself on the ice every day, try to get better, be myself around the guys in the locker room. I think that's what's made me successful and the person that I am.

— Sabres forward Jack Eichel on transitioning from college hockey to the NHL