Sunday, April 29, 2012
R2, G1: Soft Goals, Solid Result
It is hard to imagine that Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist didn't realize that yesterday marked the first game of their team's second round series. After all, they both slogged through seven games against their previous opponent and skated into an outrageously loud Madison Square Garden.
So it is curious why each had such poor performances. It is shocking even, considering one was just lauded for shutting down the reigning Stanley Cup champions and the other was named a candidate for both the Vezina and Hart trophies.
Luck was on Lundqvist's side though as several of his worst misses rang off the iron while Holtby's ended up in the back of the net. Had Washington started an actual NHL goaltender, the result may have been different. But, alas, it was what it was and the Rangers survived the sloppy grindfest to win 3-1 and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
*Chris Kreider was all the talk after this one for his game-winning goal but his assist was far more impressive. The goal was an intensely saveable shot that Holtby just blew. The assist, however, was a terrific, veteran play. Richard$ lost the puck and Kreider corralled it along the boards before Chimera could get it. He then turned back and took contact from Karl Alzner to backhand the puck to the uncovered Richard$. Smart, calm and smooth. And Holtby allowed another awful goal and the Blueshirts had some insurance.
*Stephane Matteau was shown to the arena during a television timeout, and Artem Anisimov opened the scoring just over a minute later on a wrap-around. Was that remarkable or what?
*The Caps' game-tying goal was pretty for them but ugly work by the Rangers. It was a helluva feed from Brooks Laich but Dan Girardi simply got out-hustled by Chimera, who beat Hank five-hole. Girardi played a lot of tough minutes earlier this season and it has been showing in recent weeks.
*The Ovie trolling, a la Alfredsson, was terrific fun. It is remarkable how great the Garden crowd can get after months and months of Potvin chants ad nauseum.
*Steve Eminger returned, although he got the Rupp/Bickel/Mitchell treatment and barely played. Expect a guest post on this topic one of these days.
*The Mitchell/Rupp/Eminger line played in the middle of the second period, then was not used again until the shift after the Richard$ goal - and they proceeded to get trapped in their own end. What could Tortorella be thinking? He puts a cold fourth line out onto the ice after taking a two-goal lead, does he want to jump-start the Washington comeback for them?
*The Ranger power play went 0-3, New York typical.
*Gabby continued to be snakebitten. At some point those chances have to start going in, hopefully that point will be before next fall.
*Step's confidence seems to be at a season-high, which is nice timing. He ceased being timid and is working the hard areas to try to create and finish.
*Hmm, who is worse at defense: Del Zaster or Mike Green? Both have just two points in eight playoff games despite getting serious power play time.
*Free tee shirts again, and they again are without massive corporate logos. Dolan must die a little bit with every one that is handed out.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ruslan Fedotenko - one assist.
2-Brad Richards - one goal.
1-Chris Kreider - one goal and one assist.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Feds - Championships are won on the backs of players like Feds. For all of the weeks of invisibility, the Ukrainian's work in the trenches is helping the team win games when they really count.
2-Kreider - Another really fast, relentless young player named Hagelin came out of the gates flying too after his debut. Now the trick will be doing it night in and night out...
1-Ryan McDonagh - It was another masterful performance by McDonagh. Three of the top offensive talents in the NHL didn't even get a sniff of scoring because of his steady, smart defending. Outstanding.