Alzner Plays Like Playoff Vet

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

While Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth and center Marcus Johansson were getting their first taste of Stanley Cup playoff hockey in Wednesday night’s Game 1 against the Rangers, Washington defenseman Karl Alzner suited up for his second career Stanley Cup playoff tilt. It was also Alzner’s second consecutive Stanley Cup playoff game for the Caps. If you recall, Tom Poti’s gruesome eye injury against the Canadiens during last spring’s playoffs occurred in Game 6 in Montreal. Alzner was summoned from AHL Hershey, and was put in the unenviable position of making his playoff debut in a Game 7 situation. Alzner skated just 15:09 on the night in that game, but he led the Capitals with three blocked shots. Fast forward to this spring. Coming off a season in which he played in all 82 games and averaged 20:01 in ice time per night, Alzner is solidly entrenched among Washington’s top four defensemen. In Wednesday night’s Game 1, he showed why. Alzner logged 23:42 in the series opener and blocked eight shots to lead the Caps. The 22-year-old blueliner has just those two games worth of NHL playoff experience to his credit, but he has also played in 59 postseason contests spread over four WHL seasons and 30 AHL playoff games spread over two consecutive championship seasons. Both the Capitals and the Rangers took to the ice with a few young defensemen in their respective for this series, and Washington was more effective at wearing down the New York blueliners in Game 1. “I think that’s exactly what it is,” says Alzner. “I noticed when we played them [in the regular season], we didn’t manufacture many scoring chances, good scoring chances. It was always shots from the outside, trying to shoot from the point and we couldn’t get it through because they were blocking a lot. “The key is finding a way to penetrate their little bubble that they create and not let them block those shots. Force rebounds from [New York goaltender Henrik] Lundqvist, because he is almost always going to stop that first shot. I think it’s up to us to grind them down low and battle in front of the net and try to wear down their defense with our big forwards.” Of course, the Rangers are trying to accomplish the same thing against Alnzer and his 21-year-old partner, John Carlson. Washington’s forwards did a great job of getting back and supporting in the defensive zone in Game 1, so Alzner and the rest of the Caps’ blueline corps didn’t have to try to dig many pucks out of the corners and make plays with their backs turned. Alzner is not envious of his peers on the New York blueline. Washington features a big-bodied group of forwards, and they can be a punishing bunch to play against physically. “It’s not easy when a team is on you like that they way that we play sometimes,” says Alzner. “It’s tough. I think Florida does it really well. They dump the puck in and pressure, pressure. Their forwards aren’t that big; I can only imagine what it would be like trying to do it against a team like ours every game if they’re on point. “It’s difficult if you don’t have that good chemistry and communication with your partner and your goalie. It’s not easy to get the puck out.”

next up:

Caps And Rangers Setting Up for Game 2

January 14, 2013

As the Caps and Rangers get set to do battle in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series, Washington will seek to keep on keeping on, for the most part. On the other hand, the Rangers will need to come up with a way to generate more scoring chances and more offense. Much was made of

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