Sunday, March 7, 2010
29-28-8: At Least It Was Close
Looking at the NHL-best Washington Capitals, and looking at the New York Rangers, you would think that a matchup between the two would be a energetic, exciting blowout of Druce-ian proportions. Saturday night's tilt was not. It was a tight 2-0 affair with a few moments of edge-of-your-seat action. But no matter the final style, the result remained the same - a Ranger loss.
Seeing as the Blueshirts will be back in action Sunday night, I'll get right into it:
*Two Rangers, just two Rangers should be able to look in the mirror and be satisfied they gave it all after this one: Brandon Prust and Alex Auld. Prust saw limited minutes with the fourth line but he pressed the action every second he was on the ice - something no other Ranger did. And Auld had a fantastic debut with the Rangers wasted thanks to the guys in front of him.
*Granted, Auld nearly gave me a heart attack by straying so far from the crease a couple of times but he managed not to get burned so it is hard to hold it against him ... as long as Hank doesn't get any ideas.
*This had better be a pivotal game in the career of Brandon Dubinsky - one where he realizes just how close he is to stardom and what it will take for him to get there. Dubi made a great interception deep in the Caps end in the first period but couldn't beat a falling Jose Theodore. In the second he was just a half-step behind Eric Belanger and couldn't stop the new Cap from making it a 2-0 game. And in the third he subverted any thoughts of a Ranger comeback with a bad penalty; even though he barely touched Green, there was no reason to do it in the first place. He get sout of the penalty box, has a 2-on-0 break and gets cement hands. There have been games where Dubinsky has shown that he can be great, there have been games where he has disappeared and then there is tonight - he was so close, but not quite there. He just needs to put in that extra umph (and a little extra smarts) to be a star. Let's hope he has it in him.
*Chris Drury's streak of great performances came to a close this evening not with a bang but with a whimper; I had no idea he played until I looked at the event summary. Ryan Callahan was much more visible and had some great moments but he couldn't seem to put them together and get the puck in the net. Not for lack of effort by him and credit must be given to Jose Three-Or-More as Jose made a stellar save on Cally's spinning shot at the top of the third.
*Talking Drury and Cally leads to penalty killing leads to the officiating. The Rangers got off to a bad start with two quick, tic-tac calls against. It wouldn't be so bad had the officials made the call on the ensuing power play, the diving on Mike Green. Green burst in on Auld with Rozy behind him. Rozy got his stick around the left hand of Green and somehow the Washington defender had both of his skates go out from under him. The Oscars are Sunday night, hopefully for Cap fans their boy will get his proper consideration.
*Mentioning Rozy, the Czech defender continues to make mistakes but he has somehow escaped the wrath of Tortorella. Anyone have any idea of why? Wade Redden makes more money and he has been scratched, when will Rozy be put in his proper place off the ice?
*I still hate Tom Poti. Too bad the Ranger power play - especially the lackluster Marian Gaborik - couldn't make Poti pay for his stupid penalty in the early moments of the game.
*Gabby, if you can't give it your all, don't give anything. Rest, relax, heal and let someone else take your spot. Believe it or not, a 100% Enver Lisin is far better than a 75% Gaborik when Gabby is skating scared of being hurt.
*It is amazing how the broadcasts alter perception for some people. I saw notes that raced about Erik Christensen's performance. I watched the Caps broadcast live and am pretty sure Beninati didn't say Erik's name once (and deservedly so from where I sat). I caught a bit of MSG's encore just now and heard Micheletti say that Erik was one of the best Rangers on the ice. Seriously people, you are letting your perceptions be clouded by Joe Micheletti? Scary.
*As I said before, I was impressed with Prust's work but think back to last summer. Tortorella said he wanted more offense out of his fourth line so he got rid of Freddie Sjostrom, Blair Betts and Colton Orr. Back to the future and the fourth line is Prust, Brian Boyle and Jody Shelley. Are you kidding me?
*There surely is more to be said about this one but, as I said at the top, the boys are back on the ice in less than 24 hours so let's just hope for a better result Sunday night.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Eric Belanger - one goal.
2-Eric Fehr - one goal.
1-Jose Theodore - 30 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Belanger - The former King (and most recently Wild) forward is a smart hockey player who makes good plays on both sides of the ice. His addition should be huge for the Caps down the line.
2-Auld - He gave the Rangers a chance to win, even while wearing that silly mask. As I tweeted, the paint job on that thing leads me to believe that he drives a van with a airbrushed unicorn on the side.
1-Three-Or-More - Jose didn't give up three or more. He didn't give up any. Now whether that was because he stepped up and had a great game or he was just strong enough to bat off the mosquito attack of the Rangers ... well, that is debatable. But if he didn't stop Dubinsky on that first period turnover, it would have been a different game so credit is due.