Thursday, April 21, 2011
R1, Game 4: Manhattan Meltdown
If the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in the next three years we should be able to trace that victory back tonight's 4-3 double overtime loss. You have to learn to lose before you learn to win and tonight provided a great, great lesson. It also cast a fantastic spotlight on the two biggest problems that have plagued this team throughout this season: they don't play 60 minutes and they suck on the power play.
Giving up four straight goals to blow a 3-0 lead is just disastrous, and hadn't happened to a NHL team ... well, in 20 hours or so. Seeing L.A. blow 4-0 is heartening when you consider that they are virtually the same team as the Rangers. So at least we have that going for us.
Wish I had more time but I don't so just a few notes:
*Kudos of course to Bruce Boudreau, who got exactly what he wanted. He whined about the Rangers going to the net and he was given two power plays for it in the first period. He incited the Garden crowd and the thunderous "Can You Hear Us" gave him the ammunition he was looking for to light a fire under his players. The light Boudreau Sucks and Boooo-Dreau chants were nothing compared to the two "Can You Hear Us."
*But I don't think that even Brucey could have imagined that the chants would also stop the Rangers from forechecking.
*This was the first time this season Marian Gaborik scored two goals in a game when the Rangers faced a formidable opponent. Of course, one was for the Rangers and one was against them, but small steps. He did have three other prime chances to score and blew them all but two goals in one game against a team that made the playoffs, that is pretty good. Of course, his inability to cover Alex Semin set up the first Washington goal but he can't get credit for Hank not being able to hold onto the puck.
*You know there is something wrong when Vinny Prospal and Bryan McCabe - two big parts of the power play and two guys regularly thrown over the boards - end up with zero shots on goal. Combined they had nearly 15 minutes of man advantage ice time.
*Mike Sauer was beyond outstanding. Such a wonderful performance by a kid in his fourth NHL playoff game. Unbelievable and delightful. McDonagh seemed to fight the puck a bit but Sauer was strong, poised and in position. Don't really have the words at this moment to express the adoration for his effort.
*A friend asked, "why does it always look like we are changing lines?" A very good question and one hard to answer. And it is one that has to be asked when two players go lunging towards the bench the instant the puck crosses the blue line - no matter that Washington has it in the neutral zone. The poor line change gave DC their second goal of the game and was utterly inexcusable.
*Marcus Johansson actually scored that and he was given credit for the game-tying goal as well. But that one was on a tip off of a great shot by John Carlson. Carlson, you may remember, is the player I advocated the Rangers take in the '08 draft. Instead the Rangers took MDZ and Carlson slipped to the Caps at 27. Yep.
*Another comment from a friend: "I love that line, Boyle, Prust and Avery. But who is going to score?" Another great question, one that was answered ... none of them. Prust had opportunities but couldn't finish. Boyle was guilty of trying to do far too much. And it was odd that Avery was a game-worst -2 when he really did not play poorly at all. Without the benefit of replay I can't say if his slashing penalty was warranted but the officials gave the Rangers a make-good moments after the Blueshirts killed it off.
*Why do the Rangers give up the blueline without a fight?
*Anyone have any idea of what the MSG staff was doing tonight? No Boudreau quote on the big board. And a guy dressed in a Caps jersey dancing to "A Night At The Roxbury" matted over the Capitals bench. What was the point exactly of that? To show someone who is mockingly over-exaggerating dancing and yet still does better than Dancing Larry? And some stereotypical disaster dude from Jersey Shore? They couldn't just show Matthew Modine again?
*Do you think that Mayor Bloomberg thought that the ovation was for him when they showed Mike Richter on the big board?
*Derek Stepan looked tired before the game started and clearly ran out of gas as it went on. But he was still better than Arty Anisimov, who continued to do everything he can to avoid paying any price to score or create scoring chances. Credit must be given though, he did net a goal thanks to a lucky bank shot off of Neuvirth.
*Chris Drury is supposedly clutch, right? So how come he didn't score in overtime. Or double overtime. Or even get a sniff at the Washington net? And when he is not winning the majority of his faceoffs, really, what point is there of having him on the roster? His so-called leadership couldn't help the Rangers shake off the first Caps goal. Or the second. Or the third.
*Eric Fehr ended up +3 but I do believe that DC missed Mike Knuble. Not sure that they would have gone down 0-3 with him in the lineup.
*Wojtek Wolski, thanks for nothing.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Jason Chimera - one goal.
2-Ruslan Fedotenko - two assists.
1-Marcus Johansson - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Dan Girardi - Really wanted to put Sauer here but Girardi played nearly two full periods and much of that time was spent shutting down Ovechkin. But Sauer was great too.
2-Fedotenko - The first two Ranger goals were all him, Dubi and Gabby just had to show up. Another lunchpail effort from the veteran.
1-Johansson - The kid did everything, it was impressive - power play time, penalty kill time, stickhandled well, shot well, went to the net well.