Throughout the Washington Capitals' postseason, their secondary players have been the ones making the big plays. Secondary scoring is indeed very important, but with the exception of Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals' big players remained mostly silent when it came to scoring.
Before Game 4, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich, and Marcus Johansson, the team's leading forwards in scoring during the regular season, each had not recorded a goal since the first round.
Behind Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals' leading goal-scorers in the postseason are third-liner Jason Chimera and Semin, who scored his three postseason goals in the first round.
"People, I guess, (have) been talking about it -- that we (top line players) need to step up," Nicklas Backstrom said. Eventually, it got to the point where coach Dale Hunter began reducing his top lines' ice time in the first two games of the series against the Rangers, instead favoring the bottom two lines, who were the ones putting up the points.
Saturday afternoon, the Capitals got a big win in Game 4 against the New York Rangers, and for the first time in the playoffs, the names on the score sheet were the ones you would expect to see. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green scored the Capitals' goals in their 3-2 win over the Rangers to tie the series 2-2.
It's the first time those three big players have scored in the same game since Oct. 30, 2010.
Green was glad to could contribute, and had definitely realized the need to get the primary scorers back on the postseason score sheets. "We needed to step up," Green said after Game 4. "It was important that we got a win tonight here in our building and that it be the guys that need to start scoring. Alex (Ovechkin) is one of them. Myself and Nicky (Backstrom). So it was good."
Green in particular was in desperate need of a goal. After a difficult year battling injuries that limited him to 32 regular season games, Green is slowly getting back into a groove, and his second goal of the postseason ended up being Saturday's game-winner.
"We needed that today," goaltender Braden Holtby said. "We've been kind of relying on our character guys and it's great to see those guys have good games, especially Greenie. He's been working hard and doing all the little things right and to see it rewarded on the stat sheet is huge."
"Before he was injured a lot, we used to see that all the time," added Backstrom. "It's great for him and it's great to see him score a goal. It gives him confidence. Huge goal for us."
Green's goal, scored in the last six minutes of regulation, was made even more huge by the fact that it came on the Capitals' power play, which has been anemic in the postseason so far. After Saturday, the power play is 5-for-31 in 11 games, good for just 16.1%.
Prior to Game 4, Brooks Laich dissected the issues with the power play with the media. "I think we want to bring the tempo up, make the passes a little quicker, a little crispier," Laich said.
According to Laich, the power play hasn't been scoring because the players have been moving their feet too much and waiting too long for chances. "Sometimes we're drifting a little bit: Make a pass and drift a little bit, instead of passing and stopping and staying in your exact position," Laich said. "A couple feet on the power play here or there really change."
If the Capitals have their way, Green's goal will be the spark that the power play needs. Scoring on the man advantage may well put the series in the Capitals' favor. But, of course, they must continue scoring those power play goals. And it wouldn't hurt if Green, one of the NHL's Top 10 power play point-getters in 2009-2010, was the one to score those clutch goals.
"That's going to be the difference (in the series), special teams," Green said. "We're doing a good job at it but we can be better."Photo Credit: Getty Images