Sunday, May 3, 2009

Time on Ice Tells Story

Time on ice can be misleading sometimes, but in the yesterday's 3-2 Caps' victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins it was quite the telling stat. The time on ice tallies by some of the Caps' superstars in the third period reveals what could be a trend as the series progresses.

Alex Semin (3:27) and Nicklas Backstrom (3:59) weren't on the ice that much, while David Steckel (9:17) led the team in TOI in the decisive stanza. Other notable numbers: Alex Ovechkin (6:00), Brooks Laich (6:57), Matt Bradley (6:15), Shaone Morrisonn (8:16) and Mike Green (7:43). Compare that to Sidney Crosby's 10:07 and Evgeni Malkin's 8:58.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is going to let the grinders win this series for two reasons: (a) they crash the net, which is even more necessary as the playoffs progress and (b) the trio provides match-up problems for Crosby and Malkin.

This is a direct correlation to the Caps' method of victory. Yesterday, the path towards winning was led by Steckel, Bradley and Laich -- three guys are the type of players you need to, as Boudreau put it, "win the big prize."

"You're going to need secondary scoring anytime you're in the playoffs," Steckel said after the game. "It's our time to step up and help the guys out."

"We didn't want to get behind in another series, nobody likes playing seven games and waiting for a team that's fresh," he added. "They took it to us tonight in the first part of that period and then they came out in the second period and did it again. We were fortunate to come away with a win tonight."

And then there was Simeon Varlamov's save on Crosby. Firstly, if you haven't seen it yet, watch it now. And if you have, view it again. It was that good.

"Yeah, probably [was the save of the series]. I don't know how he can get the puck, it's hard to say," Backstrom said. "It's amazing and that reaction he has all the time, that's pretty amazing of him. Hopefully he can keep doing it and we can win some games."

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