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.

Notes:

*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.

14 comments:

Avery's Purse said...

one down, three to go!!

Dennis said...

Rangers looked like an 8th place team and Caps a 1st place team. It was like the Rangers were riding a bull all night, just holding on as tightly as possible and hoping not to fall off the ride.

All except Hank of course. And Prust. They were the only two who showed up last night in my opinion.

NYR34 said...

Overall, I have to be pretty pleased with their resilience as well last night. I of course don't subscribe to that MSG commercial they kept running: "the pressure is on them".

While I also do agree that several of our setbacks last night were the direct result of our flaws being exposed by a premier NHL team on their home ice, I still think OV's goal was pure ice-tilting.

I've watched that replay a few times now. At no time did the ref signal goal - he LOOKED like he was about to and suddenly make the "play is dead" signal. I saw no conclusive evidence of where the puck was when he whistle did blow, or if the net had been dislodged. I hate to think it, but I've seen a lot more blatant examples of goals go as "the call on the ice stands", and also have seen that if a ref signals goal, the accompanying emphatic pointing inside the net to it. Neither of them happened.

I'll sidestep the usual tinfoil hat theories about Bettman gushing to get OV a deep playoff run to ensure better TV ratings sans-Crosby, or something thereof, and just say that once it was sent up to the War Room for review, I knew we were screwed.

NYR34 said...

I also somewhat disagree that were dominated in the game. I think we COULD have been dominated, but if anything I felt it was somewhat evenly matched. This is if only because I think that our flaws, bad plays, and general playoff inexperience were matched by what I saw as a tense Caps team clutching their sticks a bit too tight. Easily could have been 4-1 if they didn't spend so much time during regulation beating themselves.

Knowing Butterball Bruce, though, I don't think that team is coming back out tomorrow night with that same look, and that worries me.

Steve N said...

Watching Staal vs. Ovechkin is great entertainment. Gotta admit that the Rangers effort and grit was trumped by the Caps skill.. really the only thing preventing a blowout was Hank. Imagine if we had an average goaltender during that onslaught.

Paul said...

Joe Micheletti was nauseating to listen to last night. He makes mistakes all the time and his voice is so annoying. That shot Gaborik had in front when he shot it right into Neuvirth's chest. Somehow Joe calls that an amazing save!

Anonymous said...

@ NY34...I agree there was no emphatic signal of a goal you normally see, but he clearly points to the net (albeit in a confused sort of way). Replays clearly show the puck over the line and in the back of the net before the whistle. The only gripe would be a slow whistle, but this is the playoffs and the whistles come later and a lot less often. Tough fought game, but your lack of objectivity gives your post no credibility.

Could the Rangers have won? Absolutely, thanks to Henrik.

Did they get outplayed? Yes.

Is there hope they can win this series? If Henrik keeps playing like last night, they have a punchers chance.

Ben said...

First - Not a CHANCE Henrik should have been able to save Semin's shot. That was a one-time rocket that had Hank moving side-to-side and it was put in the top corner where no goalie was stopping it.

Second - Green an "overrated clown"? Really? He played a great game and it was his first in 26 games. Give a little credit where credit is due.

Third - the Prust line was by far the best line for the Rangers. He's such an underrated player, and i'm not surprised that his work led to the Rangers goal.

Good game overall, with a little luck the Caps would've won 3-1 or 4-1, but this series is not over, not by a long shot.

Pete said...

I think the boys could step it up and make a series out of this, but, they will have to step it up. It's games like this where you see how much Callahan's effort is missed. I would like to see Avery in for Zook on Friday. Say what you want about Avery, but when he's on his game, he's a fore-checking madman. I think he'll step it up for the playoffs.

John Druce said...

I would give the #1 star to the crossbar. Good for you for throwing Hank under the bus. He played well, but could of been the goat of the game as well.

Anonymous said...

Caps fan here, looking over the Rangers fan sites. Very impressed by your comments,good analysis and objectivity. Refreshing changes from the blather on the Pens sites.

I thought the Rangers played a good game, very tough defense and controlled the puck for 2+ periods.

Caps grit earned the tying goal, and wide open space in OT worked to their speed and stick handling advantage. Can't count on that every night though, and they've had more than enough nights like it all season that their luck could run out if Rangers can produce 2+ goals per game.

I see this as a very, very tough series if Ranger defense and King Henry keep it up, and Caps donn't turn up more offense.

Blue Seat Bastard said...

No way in hell Hank stops Semin's goal, Semin simply managed to one-time the shit out of a puck on edge to the top corner from the slot. Nothing Hank could do about that.

I sure felt like an 8 seed playing a 1 last night. Hank could stand on his head and this could still be a 6 game series (either way) or a sweep, depending on whether Neuvirth feels like shitting the bed.

Marc Staal 4 Eva said...

I agree with Dennis 100%. The Rangers looked like they were holding on for dear life for a good portion of the game, and in OT? Forget it. Caps looked like they were on a fucking power play the majority of the overtime period! We would frantically clear the zone after a barrage, only to have the Caps start another rush and get planted in the zone 10 seconds later. Something had to give eventually.

Gaborik is TERRIFIED every time he touches the puck. No wonder why the prick misses the net with nearly every shot. He's gripping the stick too tightly. Anyone who's ever played hockey can see that clear as day. Why can't the Rangers coaching staff? Gaborik is tentative to shoot, and when he does, it's a Godawful shot (usually ridiculously wide or right at the goalie's bread basket). Why? He's gripping the fucking stick like Sasha Grey grips a cock!

King was excellent, the Caps first goal was a goof, and playing Zuccarello over Avery is disturbing. Tortorella despises Avery, but Avery could be a key player in this series. Instead, he's watching from a suite high above the ice.

Matt said...

Couldn't agree more with your analysis of the game of of it's importance to the future of this young club.

Anyway, the only way the Rangers are going to win this series is by getting great efforts out of the Girardi Staal pairing and Mcdonough Sauer pairing on the likes of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom, Being able to hold the puck in the Caps zone for an extended period of time, peppering Neuvirth with pucks, and most importantly having Hank stand on his head.

And one more thing, will Marian Gaborik please give us all a reason to understand the 6.5 mil he's being paid each year? Put the god damn puck in the net Gabby.