Dale Hunter would never let a little media pressure have an influence on his coaching decisions, now would he?
Looking for a little more offensive balance against the Rangers, the Capitals coach reunited Alex Ovechkin with center Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson on Wednesday morning, about 38 hours after limiting Ovechkin to a playoff career low of 13 minutes, 36 seconds of ice time.
Ovechkin netted the game-winner Monday night to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals at two wins apiece. Game 3 is tonight at the Verizon Center.
In two playoff games against the Rangers Ovechkin has one goal on eight shots, along with five hits and zero giveaways.
The Caps forward lines and defense pairings looked like this today at Kettler Capitals Iceplex:
LW Alex Ovechkin C Nicklas Backstrom RW Marcus Johansson
LW Jason Chimera C Brooks Laich RW Alexander Semin
LW Matt Hendricks C Jay Beagle RW Troy Brouwer
LW Mike Knuble C Keith Aucoin RW Joel Ward
LD Karl Alzner RD John Carlson
LD Roman Hamrlik RD Mike Green
LD Jeff Schultz RD Dennis Wideman
Clean, but frustrating: Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner says the Rangers play such a suffocating defense that even when the Caps play a patient game they dont feel like theyre making much progress.
Playing against these guys it almost never feels like youre having a really great game, Alzner said, just because you have to chip the puck off the glass and chase it down. It feels like youre chasing the puck the entire game.
That said, Alzner said the first two games of this series has been cleaner than the series with Brad Marchand, Rich Peverley and the Boston Bruins. Through two games the Rangers have outhit the Caps 80-63.
There are more clean, big hits, Alzner said. Boston was a little more chippy.
The Rangers biggest hitters have been captain Ryan Callahan (16), Derek Stepan (8), Brian Boyle (6) and Brandon Prust (6). Matt Hendricks leads the Caps with 8, followed by Jay Beagle (7), Roman Hamrlik (7) and Brooks Laich (6).
Chimmer: Jason Chimera scored the Caps lone goal in Game 1 and tallied again in Game 2 for his second goal of the series. Chimera now has six career playoff goals, three coming during these playoffs. Four of those six goals have come against the Rangers and Chimera has scored in each of his last three playoff contests at Madison Square Garden (dating back to last season). Three of his six career playoff goals have been game-winning tallies.
25 and counting: Caps rookie goalie Braden Holtby stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in Game 2 for his fifth career playoff win. Holtby has now gone 25 straight starts in the NHL including nine in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs without suffering back-to-back setbacks.
Holtby said his parents were in the crowd at MSG for Game 2. Holtby said it was his father's first live Stanley Cup playoff game since watching Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers in the late 1980s.
Closing it out: Alex Ovechkin now has five career playoff game-winning goals. He ranks tied for second place in Capitals franchise history in playoff game-winners (Joe Juneau and John Druce) and trails only Peter Bondra (6) in that category.
Defensive affair: The Capitals allowed just 14 shots in Game 1 against New York. That marks the lowest playoff road total for shots allowed in franchise history, surpassing the 15 shots allowed by the Capitals against the New York Islanders on April 13, 1985 in Game 3 of the Patrick Division semifinals.
Bruise brothers: Washington ranks second in the NHL in blocked shots (178) and leads the league in takeaways (73) during the playoffs while its 297 hits rank fourth in the league.