Playoff hockey puts a decisive shine on role players
With Sunday's road wins, the Hurricanes and Ducks tied their respective series at one apiece. The Blackhawks earned their split in Vancouver against the Canucks on Saturday night. Will the Penguins follow suit in Washington and head home with the series tied?
One would presume it's a good possibility. Game 1 was close and it turned on Capitals' goaltender
That first game saw Ovechkin's gang -- namely
After all, much was made of Ovechkin versus Rangers goaltender
So, while Varlamov made the big save, Ovechkin scored, Semin and Backstrom each had two assists, and
It's the same every year: The game is tougher and tighter in the playoffs, which leads to increased reliance on role players. They get more ice time than during the regular season and the game suits their style of play a little better. Look at the playoffs this year already:
So, if everything else is equal -- goaltending, star contributions and special teams -- the Penguins need a boost from below the top-six demarcation. That production must be consistent in this series in total because depth is a quiet, hidden strength of the Capitals. Bradley and Steckel, along with the likes of
Ovechkin and Crosby will garner the headlines, but buried on the back page is the real story: The team that gets more from their group of grinders will win this game . . . and the series.