Wednesday, April 13, 2011
R1, Game 1: Semin Ends The Evening
The Rangers shouldn't have made the playoffs with the finish that they had. The Rangers shouldn't have won tonight's game with the start that they had. The Blueshirts were completely and utterly dominated after the first two minutes and yet had a perfectly good chance to win the game. They didn't - losing 2-1 in overtime - but just having that chance is what matters. This series is all about getting the youngsters experience and this was a great opener for them.
Do you think Derek Stepan will stand by and allow Ovechkin to hack the hell out of Hank again? Can you imagine how high Matt Gilroy's confidence is right now, despite the loss? And Sauer and McDonagh? Feel free to insert the cliche here: you have to learn to lose before you learn to win. As long as the team doesn't roll over and die in Game 2 this loss will be a success in the long run, and that is the game we're playing at this point in time.
*What is more unlikely and amazing: two rookie defensemen stepping into the lineup this season and looking rock solid or two rookie defensemen stepping into the lineup this season and looking rock solid as a pairing? Sauer and McDonagh were fantastic.
*Staal and Girardi were even better but let's face it, that's to be expected when the Rangers go up against Washington. They were every bit as good as Ovechkin and Ovie looked like the best player on the planet.
*Ovie's goal, what can you say? First reaction was intent to blow but hey, the refs did their best not to blow their whistles in this one and that was what made it a pretty fairly fought game.
*Lundqvist was impressive but he let what, five pucks get past him? Two goals and three shots that hit the iron. It has been said before here with sadness and a sigh, Hank has to be perfect for this team to win.
*While I think Henrik could have stopped Semin's shot - he was on his knees - that goal was captain Chris Drury's fault. Dru was on the ice with Dubi so there were two centers for the defensive zone draw. Dubi, however, headed out to the wing. When the puck was chipped back Dubi followed his man out of the zone. Dru couldn't clear and the puck went back to Staal. Dru left to check on the pizza at his restaurant and Staal did what most defensemen under pressure should - he put it off the wall ... right to Arnott, who he couldn't see had been left completely alone. Semin stepped back to separate himself from Girardi and had the room to blast the one-timer in. Sad ending to a hard-fought game.
*The Rangers were able to get 25 shots through to DC's rookie goaltender in 78:24. That's just not enough. Washington blocked a ton of a shots (as the Rangers did) but the Rangers simply did not have the talent to overcome it. Nor the gameplan. Each time a guy went to the wall there should have been a Blueshirt somewhere remotely near the slot but there never was.
*On the talent topic ... Gaborik. Unacceptable. Again. Look at the chances that Washington's top players earned and then look at the ones that Gabby did. His defensive play was pretty good but dammit Braden, that isn't what you're paid for.
*He was a big reason of why the power plays were so atrocious. The unit is completely predictable at this point - either get the puck to McCabe for a shot or to Gabby. And the Slovak is somehow reluctant to shoot it when he gets it. When you have Boyle on the ice you plant his oversized body down low and just put the puck into play. Let Dubi hack away at it, don't swing it around the perimeter while waiting for a lane to open up.
*Zuccarello bad penalty in the first, three shifts in the second, two in the third. Have to be happy that he is getting some experience but how bad does this performance kill his confidence?
*Zuke played because Torts benched Sean Avery. Most think because he is scared of undisciplined penalties. And yet Torts took a too-many-men, heh.
*Brandon Prust won't make it into the three stars but he did put forth a very Prustian effort. Gilroy's goal was all because of his forecheck and he helped the Rangers match the Caps physicality.
*Arty needs to be stronger, that simple. He was marginalized by the tough Washington defense and that can't happen. Look at how Johansson was able to use his speed to get chances, you have to use what you have. Johansson is half a foot shorter so he has to use his quickness, Arty isn't that fast and he isn't going to be given the room he wants. He has to earn it.
*I'll be honest, I missed Tom Poti. Need someone to loathe on the Caps. Green is just an overrated clown, Erskine and Chimera are talentless grinders and Arnott is an opponent that I've always respected.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Matt Gilroy - one goal.
2-Alex Ovechkin - one goal.
1-Alex Semin - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Semin - Nice goal. If only Gaborik had a shot like that ...
2-Staal - You could see Staal getting angrier and angrier and it just fed the beast. You play up to the level of your opponent and he matched up with the very best.
1-Ovechkin - Even with Staal's stellar effort Ovie was a force of nature. He could easily have had a hat trick and we still would have walked away impressed with the Ranger defense.