For additional insight into the Eastern Conference Second Round series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers, NHL.com has enlisted the help of Dave Farrish to break down the action. Farrish will be checking in throughout the series.
Farrish was an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs from 2005-14. He won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007. He also coached 1,027 games in the minor leagues, including the American Hockey League. In addition, Farrish, a former defenseman, played 430 games over seven seasons in the NHL.
Proper adjustments and some good luck go a long way in determining how a team survives in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Dave Farrish said the New York Rangers did what they needed to do and got a 2-1 overtime win in Game 5 Friday to stay alive in their Eastern Conference Second Round series against the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-2. Game 6 is at Verizon Center on Sunday (7 p.m., ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
"Getting shots through by getting a different angle, and getting traffic to the front were both very effective for the Rangers," Farrish said. "You have to have a little bit of luck too and they had some of that going for them. I thought they played well."
Farrish thought the Rangers were too stationary prior to Game 5 and it resulted in the Capitals being able to get in the shooting lanes to block shots. Washington blocked 25 in Game 4 and 27 in Game 3.
He said the Rangers adjusted in Game 5 by moving their feet to get the defense moving before shooting. The players they had in front of the net also moved laterally to create moving screens in front of Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
New York had 43 shots on goal; Washington had only 13 blocked shots.
The two goals the Rangers scored were off shots from the outside that went through traffic in front of the net.
Forward Chris Kreider's game-tying goal with 1:41 left in the third period was off a pass from center Derek Stepan down low that essentially forced Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik to turn quickly and act as a high screen on Holtby.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh's goal in overtime was a one-timer off a drop pass from Stepan that went into the net off of Capitals defenseman Tim Gleason's hand. Before passing, Stepan faked a shot, drawing Capitals forward Curtis Glencross and defenseman Mike Green to bite and go down for the block. Kreider was in front of the net.
"They got a little bit of a bounce there, but there was a good screen in front and Holtby wasn't able to pick it up," Farrish said.
Finally solving Holtby, who had stopped 94 of 95 shots before Kreider scored, should give the Rangers confidence heading into Game 6, Farrish said. Instead of wondering if they can beat Holtby, knowing how should be fresh in their minds.
"They have been playing well all along and they just haven't had any breaks, so maybe this will loosen them up a little bit to be able to create some more offense," Farrish said. "You do realize that maybe [Holtby] is only human, even if he is a little superhuman. There is a way to beat him and you just have to stick with that. It's the traffic and don't pass on shooting opportunities."
Goalie - WSH
GAA: 1.51 | SVP: .951
Farrish also said he thinks the Capitals played another strong game, but they were too passive in trying to protect a 1-0 lead after Glencross scored at 10:54 of the third period.
"They kind of sat back and they were happy to weather the storm, dump the puck in and change lines," Farrish said. "What that does is it creates wave after wave of offense coming back at you and it's not easy to sustain that."
The Rangers had the puck a lot and had three shots on goal and five shot attempts leading to Kreider's game-tying goal. They needed goalie Henrik Lundqvist to make back-to-back saves on Jason Chimera at the left post with 25 seconds remaining in regulation, but carried the play in overtime by outshooting Washington 6-2.
"If [the Capitals] tried to provide some more offensive pressure, forechecking instead of just making line changes, it might have made a difference in the game," Farrish said. "But it's hard to do. Everybody wants to get the puck out and get off and let the next line do their thing, but you end up receiving and that's tough to defend."
Farrish expects the Capitals will be more aggressive in Game 6, when they have the ability to get the matchups they want with the last-change advantage.
"That will be interesting to see, though," Farrish said. "The Capitals have been very patient and methodical in how they are doing things. If the game really does open up that can be an advantage to the Rangers. This opportunity will afford the Rangers a little more confidence."