Rangers Try To Knot Series On Wednesday

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Players To Watch


Rangers-Marc Staal: After a 29-game absence---27 in the regular season and the first two in the playoffs---Staal was back in the lineup Monday in Game three against the Capitals. Wearing a visor for the first time in his career to protect the right eye that was struck by a puck two months earlier, Staal played a strong, yet somewhat cautious game, as he tried to find his way playing with blurred vision in that right eye, as well as getting accustomed to the visor. He took a big hit early in the game and shook it off, while playing 17+ minutes. Staal was not overly physical or too involved in the offensive end, but he was positionally strong and smart with the puck. His presence was a calming one as he stepped right back into the second defense pair, and he should only get better each game he plays, though it would be hard for him just yet to regain the All Star level form he was playing at before being injured. Still the Rangers have received a major boost to their blueline with Staal back in the lineup against this deep and talented Caps team.


Capitals-Braden Holtby: Perhaps Holtby's greatest quality is that he exudes an extremely calm demeanor, and seems to shrug off adversity---something that most definitely aids a goaltender in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Last spring Holtby was outstanding in net for the Caps, helping oust Boston in seven games while playing in four overtime games, including the decisive 2-1 victory in Game Seven on the road, before battling---and often baffling---the Rangers through seven games, eventually falling short 2-1 in Game Seven at The Garden. All told he was 7-7 in 14 starts last spring with a 1.95 goals against average, and he was off to an even better start allowing one goal through 128 minutes of action in Games 1 and 2 this year. How he bounces back after surrendering four goals in losing Game Three Wednesday will go a long way in likely determining how the rest of this series plays out.