Since the New York Rangers acquired Ryane Clowe from the San Jose Sharks the Rangers have seen a more intense and consistent forecheck. However, Clowe has missed the first two playoff games against the Washington Capitals and the Rangers have struggled to produce on offense, often getting dominated by a Capitals team that has been able to control the puck and keep the Rangers back on their heels.
As the Rangers get ready to take on the Capitals in Game 3, it looks like Clowe will be ready to go and the Rangers certainly can use his physical play. He is still a game-time decision but Clowe did practice in a contact jersey which is a good sign.
It is easy to point to the addition of Clowe and of Derek Brassard, John Moore and Derek Dorsett in the trade that sent Marian Gaborik to the Columbus Blue Jackets as the point the Rangers found their identity.
Before coming to the Rangers Clowe had been without a goal in 28 games with the Sharks. However, since coming to the Rangers, Clowe has tallied three goals and five assists in 12 games and has looked like the player who averaged a shade over 20 goals and 54 points for the Sharks in the previous four seasons.
More importantly, the Rangers need Clowe’s physical play. Had Clowe been active for Game 2 it is unlikely the Capitals would have been able to turn the overtime period into their own private shoot-around as they did. Clowe helped bring an identity to the Rangers and reignited the physical play that was the team’s trademark last season. Right now the Rangers hope they have Clowe back in the lineup or they might be staring at an 0-3 deficit that would almost impossible to overcome.