Sunday, May 6, 2012
R2, G4: Familiar Failings
The Rangers collected a huge triple overtime victory in Game 3 against the Capitals, the kind that should have all but secured their series. But, instead, the Blueshirts bungled Game 4, stumbling out of the gate on their way to a 3-2 fall.
Against Ottawa the Blueshirts won a convincing Game 1, looked terrible in Game 2, barely won a tough Game 3 and fell 3-2 in Game 4. Against Washington the Blueshirts won a convincing Game 1, looked terrible in Game 2, barely won a tough Game 3 and fell 3-2 in Game 4. Apparently Battlestar had it right when they said 'All Of This Has Happened Before And Will Happen Again.' Unfortunately, if the Rangers keep with the program, Washington will win Game 5 Monday ...
As that game is 24 hours away, let's just get into the Late Hits:
*For those that don't have twitter, my post-game rant: Remind me again how Torts is worthy of a Jack Adams Trophy when he can't get his team up to play a playoff game... Or how he can't get the power play to work. Or how he changes the lines incessantly so there is no chemistry. Or how he intimidates his players so they play weak and soft, afraid that their first mistake will be their last. Yeah, give that man a trophy.
*To only get 20 shots through to the minor league goaltender on the other end is inexcusable. The poor, predictable shot attempts from the edges of the offensive zone will not win games in the regular season, much less in the NHL playoffs.
*Often slam the various broadcasters (and for good reason, Joe Micheletti is atrocious) but in the middle of the first period Eddie Olczyk explained how Hank gets in the opposition's heads and they should just throw the puck on net with high shots. Alex Ovechkin just threw the puck on net with a high shot a few minutes later and scored the first goal of the game. Bravo Enzo.
*The point blank save by Hank on Ovechkin a few minutes earlier was absolutely one of the best of the King's career, a close second to my personal fav - the one on Marc Savard (maybe because I was actually at that one).
*The Ovie goal came thanks to two things - obviously Chris Kreider's foolish feed but also Brian Boyle's abandonment of his man. Boyle turned away from one of the most lethal scorers in the NHL, moving deeper into his own end and over towards the boards. The puck came out and he was left lost in the middle of nowhere. Whoops.
*Backstrom's tally was also the result of failed coverage. Torts had three of the youngest guys out there in Arty, Kreider and Hagelin - a group that had not been together to date - and not one of them bothered to pick up Backstrom in front. The feed from Chimera went though everyone to find the Swede utterly alone. Unacceptable.
*The Green power play goal completed the trifecta of defensive mistakes. The Ranger kill - which has been one of the absolute highlights of this season - failed by having three of their four players within a five foot span of the halfboards. They collapsed in and all it took was an observant Wideman to see that the rest of the ice was wide open for Green. There was no one in the passing lane, there was no one available to close on Caps defenseman.
*Plenty of people (correctly) complained about the call that brought that power play about but that wasn't the cause of the Ranger loss. There has been plenty of poor officiating on both sides of the ice throughout these playoffs and there will be plenty more. If the Blueshirts had scored on the cheap call on Joel Ward in the second period, they would have been up 2-1. Instead they blew the man advantage and Backstrom scored to put DC ahead.
*Gabby's game-tying goal? Sneaky, sneaky sir.
*Arty made a nice feed on that one after beating out an icing call - good hustle. The goal of his own earlier was just good fortune, as Brooks Laich doesn't make gaffes like that often. Offense aside, we've been saying for years now that the Russian needs more meat on his bones and Backstrom's goal proved it. Simply sad to see him go flying after attempting the initial hit. And then for him to give up on his man and go for another was just stupidity. A rookie mistake by a player with more than 250 NHL games to his name.
*Nice to see Stu play nearly twice as much as he did in Game 3, but he clearly was tentative. It has to be tough to play with an ax having over your head every second of every shift.
*Matt Hendricks has an amazing story, after getting drafted by Nashville he decided against signing with them and instead worked his way up from the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. Signed by Boston, traded to Colorado, played 60 games with the Avs, left Colorado and tried out for Washington. Solid defensively, physically strong and 9-0 at the dot in this one. Wow.
PHW Three Stars
3-Artem Anisimov - one goal and one assist.
2-Nicklas Backstrom - one goal.
1-Mike Green - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Arty - At least one Ranger forward realized where the Washington net was.
2-Green - He's no Tom Poti, but still worthy of loathing.
1-Ovie - The Cap captain came out flying and got his team going in the right direction. And he got away with trying to knock Girardi out of the series. Two minutes for a leaping head shot, it pays to be a superstar.