Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are the Rangers’ shutdown pair, so it was no surprise when many pegged New York’s hopes to winning this first-round series directly on their ability to shut down Alex Ovechkin. They managed to keep Washington’s superstar off the scoreboard during the regular season, but that’s not the case in the playoffs.
Like any good shutdown pair, Girardi and Staal have sacrificed their bodies to block shots, registering 14 against Ovechkin and his linemates in the first three games during even strength, but it has not been enough to stifle the Capitals captain in this series.
| ||EV TOI||EV Shots for||EV Goals for||Avg distance of shot on goal||Avg distance of goal scored|
The reason for the increased goal output is simple: Ovi is crashing the net. Even though Girardi and Staal are pushing his shots from farther out, he is being rewarded by driving to the scoring-chance area, where almost one out of every three of his shots have lit the lamp in the series.
They say defense wins championships, but when one of the NHL’s top players drives to the net, there is not a defensive pair that can shut him down.