It's a bit of a cliche to say that the Caps need to take it one game at a time -- that they face three separate one-game series. But it is, in fact, what they need to do, down three games to one as they take on the Rangers Friday night in Game 5.
The Caps had every chance to steal all the momentum from the Rangers in Game 4. But King Henrik was there to turn away all but two of Ovie's shots. One went in. Another blistered off the post -- and with it, went the Caps chances.
They had some furious flurries, but came up short.
The Caps have certainly fired a bunch of shots toward the net, but it's probably fair to question the quality of them. Far too many have come from the perimeter. And the ones that have been flung from the point often find little in the way of traffic.
They've been relying on their high-wire passing and finesse game. It worked so well in the regular season, but against these Rangers -- who've sacrificed their bodies time and again to block shots, and swung out their sticks to knock down passes -- it hasn't worked.
When those passes have connected, the Caps have generated some high-quality chances. In Game 3, for example, Alex Semin got behind the Rangers defense a number of times, and buried the puck past Hank. But the Caps need more of that.
They need Ovie to play like the Hart Trophy winner he was and probably is. The Rangers haven't been able to adapt to the move he has, where he charges in on a defenseman, gets him to cede ground, then uses their legs as a screen for his lethal wrister. It worked for a goal in the last game. He needs to do that more.
And they need Mike Green to have the game of his life. While his somewhat tentative play likely means he's injured, he's going to need to pick his spot, lead that rush, and drive to the net, the way he did so often during the season.
It's not an impossible feat. The Rangers are the inferior team.
But they've played sharper and more crisply. But the Caps can overcome it -- just one game at a time.