Tuesday, May 1, 2012
R2, G2: Midseason Mediocrity
Outside of the loud, towel-waving crowd at MSG on Monday night it was all but impossible to tell that there was a second round playoff game going on. The Rangers showed little intensity as they played down to the level of their SouthLeast Division opponent and paid for it by losing 3-2.
Washington's top players were virtual nonfactors as their lower line nobodies easily held off the Blueshirts. Dale Hunter's minions were able to keep the Rangers from challenging their minor league netminder, even with their most physical defenseman in the pressbox. Just like in their late-regular season matchup, the Blueshirts made little effort to get rebounds and barely had any bodies around the net ... the one time someone actually set up in front they scored. Torts tossed meat into Hunter's grinders and the result was not tasty.
It was not entirely like Game 2 of the Ottawa series in that the Blueshirts were coming off of a win and did not capitalize upon it (get it, capital-ize? Bah dum, dum, chhh). They were less physical than they were in the opener, they overused and tired out their top players, and they made it easy for the opposing goaltender to make saves. Sure the result of the Ottawa series was good but something tells me that the Caps' captain isn't going to lie down and leave the series for a few games the way the Sens' one did.
*Both teams hit posts - Ovie for the Caps and DZ for the Rangers - so the iron can not be an excuse.
*The officiating as well. Wocka Wocka Stephen Walkom may be a bad joke but he was a bad joke for both teams. Gotta love the Garden - minutes after scoring a power play they roared "These Refs Suck" as the inevitable retribution call resulted in a power play goal against.
*All three goals against were utterly inexcusable. Stu Bickel's bad turnover resulted in an odd man rush that Del Zaster stood and watched until Mike Knuble tapped home the game-opening tally. Hank thought he was Brodeur or Turco and wanders from his net only to turn over the puck and flop across his crease - and McDonagh came over to cover and kicked in the puck himself. Boyle blew a big defensive zone faceoff, the puck came out to Ovie, no Ranger came out to Ovie (as they were shorthanded), and Ovie fired through traffic.
*Nice of Ovechkin to pull out the Tom Poti hand-to-his-ear move after the goal. Wanted to beat the hell out of ole Peanut Butter for that, wanted to beat the hell out of Ovie. And the Rangers themselves are not big on message sending so they let it slip as they scrambled, ineffectually, to find an equalizer.
*No Capital played less than 9:29. Four Rangers played less than five minutes.
*What was worse: Torts juggling lines and taking a too many men on the ice penalty in a playoff game, or a Ranger (I forget who, Stralman maybe?) standing around for 5-10 seconds in the second period as the team set up their breakout only to ice the puck?
*Nice tic-tac-toe play by DZ, Gabby and Richard$ for the first Ranger goal. It was a blueprinted play that has worked before, and the only time Gaborik was noticeable the entire night.
*Hate to play the 'what if?' game but if the Ranger power play scored four minutes into the first period perhaps things would have turned out quite differently.
*As for the 'what if?' on the Chris Kreider breakaway, well, what can you do? He is a kid playing in his seventh NHL game. He came in just a little too fast and waited to shoot just a little too long.
*Love me some Hagelin, as is well known, but just one assist in six playoff games despite getting serious top-six time is not enough.
*Know that a lot of people were delighted to see Boyle return but he was not 100% and it showed.
*What? No free tee shirts? Cheap Dolan. Haha.
*Ruslan Fedotenko continues to justify his place on the roster by being one of the best Blueshirts. His hard work in the hard parts of the ice continue to be a high point of the Ranger play. Only wish Pruster was as effective.
*It has been great that Marcus Johansson has been kept so quiet through two games for the Capitals. If this kid gets hot ...
*PHW Three Stars
3-Alex Ovechkin - one goal.
2-Michael Del Zotto - two assists.
1-Braden Holtby - 26 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Cally - Richard$ was definitely into the action and McDonagh put forth another top notch performance (aside from the goal off his skate) but Captain Cally clearly was not going to go down without a fight. He hit, he battled, he scored ... hopefully he shamed his teammates into raising their levels for Game 3.
2-Ovie - 'Oh, yeah? I suck? Suck on this game-winning goal.'
1-Brooks Laich - Really, really starting to hate this guy. Plays in every situation, wins faceoffs, hits and creates scoring chances. Brooks Laich.