Saturday, April 16, 2011
R1, Game 2: Washout In Washington
According to Wiki a washout is the sudden erosion of soft soil or other support surfaces by a gush of water, usually occurring during a heavy downpour of rain. The downpour came in a two minute span of the second period, and the Rangers hopes of victory were quickly eroded away.
We saw this happen in the final five games of March - the Rangers scored five goals in that span and somehow came out of it 2-2-1. Well the Washington Capitals aren't about to let the Rangers break even when they can't break onto the scoresheet. This is playoff hockey and the Blueshirts need to realize that. Sure goals come at an even higher premium than the regular season but they are still there for the taking. The problem is that you have to work harder to take them and certain players aren't putting forth the effort.
Now before you go off please keep in mind that effort is the physical manifestation of a determination to do something. And, watching several of the Rangers, it is clear to see that that determination is lacking. That has to change. Whether it is due to pride or panic, the Rangers need to find that drive and take it right to the net on Sunday or this season is over.
*The team was delightfully deliberate in their attempts to batter the Caps early physically along the boards but they needed to take it a further. Those hits needed to remove opponents from the puck, those hits needed to give the guys room to make plays, those hits needed to create chances and the follow ups to those chances. All credit to Washington for not allowing those hits to do any of the above in the opening period. The Rangers pushed hard, the Caps pushed back and the Rangers relented in the second. Sure they found the strength for a few more shoves but by then it was too late to do anything about the final result.
*Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko and Brian Boyle are back to trying to do too much out there. It is only natural when you see their counterparts on the Caps collecting goals but the blue collar Blueshirts just need to keep things simple. Skate, hit, shoot. Hell, that stands for all of the Rangers, not just the unsung heroes we have come to expect too much from.
*Marian Gaborik has done his best to lower expectations with his atrocious play this season. That is the only explanation as to why MSG Network anointed him their Ranger star of the game. He had four shots - none that really tested Neuvirth - and four hits - none that tangibly achieved anything. MSG must have figured that Joe Micheletti shrieked Gabby's name enough times that he must have done something.
*Micheletti, of course, was atrocious. It took less than two minutes before he asininely asserted himself with his obnoxious "pardon me Sam but ..." and it just went downhill from there. He, like Sean Avery, has no chemistry with anyone else and it shows.
*Avery, at least, has some redeeming qualities. The Rangers needed to forecheck and Avery brought the forecheck. Sean was the best Blueshirt on the ice not named Lundqvist yet again, it is just a shame that he can not get comfortable with any linemate because Torts juggles him so much. And that results in the many offsides and the many feeds off the endboards that harmlessly slide away. It is inexplicable that Tortorella held him to just two shifts in the second period when the team desperately needed a spark after giving away the two goals.
*The defense of the team's overpaid captain is that he wins faceoffs and kills penalties. On this night Chris Drury failed at both. Drury lost the defensive zone faceoff to Jason Arnott and went chasing after the puck. When two of his teammates went after Mike Green, Drury was caught up in the high slot watching Arnott score a power play goal from the bottom of the circle. Frankly it was just an unlucky deflection but if Dru wins that draw back then that play doesn't happen. For those that still think he is the team's leader, what message does it send when the leader plays just two shifts in the third period because the coach feels he is incapable of contributing?
*Speaking of being incapable of contributing, Artem Anisimov and Wojtek Wolski. The two players do possess a high level of skill but they somehow have to find the spines to make it work. Washington's physicality has marginalized them and that is unacceptable. I mean, c'mon, even Mr. Softie Erik Christensen ventured into the danger zone a few times.
*Henrik Ludqvist deserves zero blame for either of these losses. It is simply sad to see the Swede's stellar work night after night wasted.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jason Arnott - one goal.
2-Jason Chimera - one goal.
1-Michal Neuvirth - 22 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Neuvirth - Smart, simple goaltending. See the puck, stop the puck, don't give up bad rebounds.
2-Brooks Laich - His one-handed feed on the first goal was the definition of determination. Never give up, never surrender.
1-Arnott - The Rangers rolled right over Washington when Arnott wasn't there and you had better believe that the former Devil simply would not have allowed results of 7-0 and 6-0. Ovechkin may wear the C but this man is skippering the Caps ship at this point and he has them pointed towards a long run in the playoffs. A veteran leader with Cups on his resume showing his younger teammates the will and the ways to win. Wouldn't it be nice if the Rangers had someone like that?