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Capitals vs Rangers

Posted On Friday, 05.10.2013 / 2:19 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Hart honor nice, but Ovechkin focused on winning

ARLINGTON, Va. -- When the Washington Capitals were faced with a 10-point deficit in the Southeast Division standings in mid-March and were in danger of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years, Alex Ovechkin turned his season around.

Beginning March 14, Ovechkin had a League-high 23 goals and 36 points in the final 23 games of the regular season as the Capitals went 17-4-2 to clinch the division title.

Ovechkin's efforts were recognized Friday when he was named one of three finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the "player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team." Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and John Tavares of the New York Islanders are the other finalists.

"It's nice and I'm sure I'm going to have time to celebrate later, but right now it's all about business and focus on the game," Ovechkin said as the Capitals prepared Friday for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

"It's big. It means like I'm still [a factor]," he said of his fourth career Hart Trophy nomination, his first since 2009-10. "It was a hard year, it was hard season for all of us, and I'm happy to be in that kind of position."

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 1:33 PM

By Ben Raby -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Capitals' Erat to miss Game 5

ARLINGTON, Va. -- According to Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates, forward Martin Erat will not play in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers on Friday.

Erat left Game 4 on Wednesday with an upper-body injury with 1:34 remaining in the first period after a collision involving teammate Alex Ovechkin and Rangers forward Derek Stepan.

Erat was favoring his left forearm as he returned to the Capitals dressing room, and Oates said Thursday the team is awaiting results on an MRI exam.

Erat's injury means that the Capitals' lineup will have a different look for Game 5 at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), but Oates would not confirm who will draw a sweater.

The first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series is even at two games apiece.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 10:22 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Capitals recall Crabb, Wilson from AHL Bears

The Washington Capitals have recalled right wings Joey Crabb and Tom Wilson from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, and they will participate in Thursday's practice with the team.

Martin Erat left Game 4 against the New York Rangers on Wednesday with 1:34 remaining in the opening period and appeared to be favoring his arm following a hard collision involving Rangers center Derek Stepan and Capitals wing Alex Ovechkin.

After the game, Washington coach Adam Oates said Erat was dealing with an upper-body injury and would be re-evaluated Thursday.

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Posted On Thursday, 05.09.2013 / 12:06 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Rangers' McDonagh praises Staal for deciding to sit

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal didn't play in Game 4 Wednesday night, and still fellow blueliner Ryan McDonagh found a way to heap praise on him for helping the team.

"I think it's an honest and humble decision by him knowing he didn't want to put the team in any jeopardy," McDonagh said. "It takes a lot of guts to do that."

Staal's absence from the Rangers' lineup was surprising only because he showed no indications that he wouldn't play for a second straight game after missing 29 in a row with a right eye injury.


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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 7:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Rangers have Clowe in lineup; Staal out

NEW YORK -- Ryane Clowe returned to the New York Rangers lineup for Game 4 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden after missing the previous four games with an undisclosed injury.

Defenseman Marc Staal is not in the lineup after playing in Game 3 Monday, his first game since March 5.

The Rangers trail the Washington Capitals in the best-of-7 series, 2-1.

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 2:12 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Holtby's puck-handling proving key in series

NEW YORK -- As in any series, the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers has come down to the play of both teams' starting goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby have come up with remarkable saves at the timeliest of moments, but when it comes to one aspect of this series, which Washington leads 2-1 heading into Game 4 on Wednesday (NBCSN, TSN, RDS2), Holtby does hold one sizeable advantage over the defending Vezina Trophy winner.

Against an aggressive Rangers team that has been keyed by its energetic forecheck, Holtby's puck-handling skills have been vital to the Capitals' potent breakout. While Lundqvist never has been known for playing the puck, Holtby occasionally has seen fit to fire a two-line pass down the wing, squashing any opportunities for the Rangers to set up in the Capitals' zone.

"It's been huge," defenseman Mike Green said of Holtby's puck-handling. "He's been great at it all year. Especially being a defenseman, it really helps out. It's another utility that we can use. Also, we don't have to go back and pick up pucks behind the net. He's making plays. Not many goalies can do that. It's impressive."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Laich skates, still no timetable for return

NEW YORK -- After being limited to nine games this season and dealing with an aggravation of an injury that held him out of the first two months of the 2012-13 season, Brooks Laich's first practice in over a month didn't get off to a smooth start.

The Washington Capitals forward, who hasn't played since April 4, lost an edge and stumbled into the boards at the beginning of the team's morning skate prior to Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers, which the Capitals lead 2-1.

Laich and his teammates got a nice chuckle out of the fall.

"That was the first contact I've taken in a while. It felt good to get into that," Laich said following the skate. "It was a bit of a wake-up call, maybe. The guys had a good laugh at it. I had a good laugh at it too."

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Posted On Wednesday, 05.08.2013 / 11:59 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Rangers know Lundqvist is their 'backbone'

NEW YORK -- How do Henrik Lundqvist's teammates feel about him?

"He's the backbone of this team," New York Rangers forward Rick Nash said Wednesday from Madison Square Garden.

What about the coaching staff -- how do they feel about Lundqvist?

"He's the backbone of our club," coach John Tortorella said Wednesday in advance of Game 4 of the team's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Washington Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS2).

Sensing a trend here? For good reason, of course -- Lundqvist, who won the Vezina Trophy last year, again is a finalist for the award given to the NHL's best goalie.

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 1:51 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Capitals-Rangers series blog

Clowe continuing to improve; Powe misses practice

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers forward Ryane Clowe finally got to test himself in some battle drills Tuesday afternoon and said he felt good, but there is still no indication if he is going to play in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.

Clowe has been practicing since last Friday but has missed the past four games dating to the regular season with an undisclosed injury.

"I was hopeful for Game 2, but that's just how I think," Clowe said. "Sometimes you've gotta be smart when you've got an injury, you don't want to push it. If you asked around to people who know me, I don't like missing games, and if it's an opportunity to play I'm going to play"

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.07.2013 / 1:28 PM

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

Home ice has served Capitals, Rangers well so far

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals forward Eric Fehr said he feels the first team that's able to break serve in this best-of-7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals might have the best chance at taking the series.

Fehr spoke to reporters Tuesday morning outside his hotel during a rare off day to discuss how important home ice has been for his club and the New York Rangers in the opening three games of what has become an intriguing showdown between two very evenly matched clubs.

"I don't think there was any difference in the way the Rangers played [on Monday], but they played with the crowd behind them which is what we did at Verizon Center and that's a big difference," Fehr said. "Momentum plays a big part in the games and when you have the fans cheering you on, it's a lot easier to play."

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