McKenzie: Capitals buying into Hunter's system

Bob McKenzie

5/10/2012 10:02:01 PM

Some quick thoughts from the NHL on TSN panel on Thursday.

The biggest surprise about the Washington Capitals thus far in the playoffs is the fact that their star players, like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green have seen the value in doing more with less ice-time.

In the first round of the playoffs, when a Capitals game was over, we would grab the time sheets to see how many minutes they played, and more often than not, it was closer to their career lows.

Fast forward to the Capitals' current run and it almost doesn't matter how many minutes they are each playing because they're contributing offensively.

In Game 6, Ovechkin was an offensive force at every turn. When the game ended, all I knew was that he played at a really high level. He played just over 15 minutes in the game, which is a stark contrast from the 20-25 minutes he averaged per game in previous playoff years. 

The players have bought into coach Dale Hunter's system and are showing that it's the quality of the minutes, not the quantity, that counts.

Too Close To Call

When it comes to Game 7 in the Stanley Cup playoffs, all bets are off, as there are too many intangibles and bounces to factor in.

With that said, the New York Rangers are a pressure-treated hockey team. They faced elimination in Game 6 against the Ottawa Senators, defeated Ottawa and then returned home to Madison Square Garden where they finished off the Sens in Game 7.

Over the course of the regular season, the Rangers played a lot of one-goal games. They don't have a lot of offence to back them up if they fall behind by a large margin, so they know that there will be a lot of pressure on Henrik Lundqvist.

I wouldn't say that the Rangers have the advantage over the Capitals, as Washington is also pressure-treated, but I don't think that they're at a disadvantage coming back home for Game 7.