[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the second round playoff series between the Capitals and the Rangers, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but perhaps lesser-known players on the Rangers and how they might impact the series.]
#62 / Left Wing/ New York Rangers
August 23, 1988
Birthplace: Sodertalje, Sweden
Drafted: 168th overall, 2007 by New York Rangers
|Assets||Has excellent offensive instincts, as well as a defensive conscience. Also displays a feisty side that is infectious.
|Flaws||Doesn't have ideal size for the National Hockey League game, so he must continue getting physically stronger to better handle big defenders.
|Career Potential||Two-way winger with upside. (Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via SB Nation player page)|
Why you should know who he is - Hagelin is still a relative unknown to most fans, but he's rapidly gaining a strong reputation within the stats-based community. He's second on the Rangers in Corsi-on and third in Corsi Relative, and he plays against much tougher competition than the players ahead of him on either list. The Rangers were a mediocre puck-possession team before he was called up full-time, but their possession metrics have been better since then. Maybe it's correlation more than causation, but it's something to keep in mind. Finally, for most of the season he's played with Brad Richards, and lately he's been playing with Richards and Marian Gaborik. That is obviously going to be a line the Caps will need to keep in check if they want to have success.
How the Caps can stop him - The Senators were able to control Hagelin during the middle three games in the first round by sending out Daniel Alfredsson to take an elbow to the head. That's obviously not a preferable tactic for the Caps to employ (unless, of course, the Senators want to loan Alfie to the Caps...), so the Caps will have to do it the old-fashioned way. As stated above, Hagelin is very fast and shifty, but he's not a very big player. The Caps will need to use mobile defensemen with good strength and body position to help keep Hagelin to the outside, preferably along the boards, and prevent him from gashing the defense through the middle. Based on that description, and the fact that Hagelin has been playing on the Rangers' top line, it seems likely that Karl Alzner and John Carlson are going to get plenty of ice against the speedy Swede.