Friday, May 10, 2013

R1, G4: Holding Serve

The Rangers did what they were supposed to on Wednesday, defeating Washington on home ice. In yet another uncomfortably close affair, the Blueshirts beat the Caps 4-3 at MSG to level the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

As usual, the boys didn't make it easy - they blew a two-goal lead, grabbed another and let Washington to draw within one with plenty of time to go. Nerve-racking, fingernail-biting, orifice-tightening, ulcer-inducing time.

Seeing as there is little rest for the wicked and Game 5 is Friday night, here are just a few Late Hits:

*Step's eventual game-winner has to rank among the top five goals this season. What beautiful play between Cally, Hags and him. No surprise that they are all True Blue Rangers - not mercenaries - and have a degree of chemistry.

*That being said, that play really showed the difference between winners and losers. By now you've seen the Ovie "controller" gif showing his lack of interest in covering Step. Last week in Los Angeles, with the Kings up 1-0 with around five minutes to go, the Blues' Jordan Leopold had an empty net to shoot on and Justin Williams made an amazing dive to knock the puck away (wish I could find the video). That's why Williams has a Cup ring and Ovechkin is and will always be a loser.

*Rick Nash hasn't done anything to dispel my notion that he can't hack the playoffs. The overrated, overpaid showboat has been a virtual nonfactor four games in, easily covered by the Caps' mediocre collection of defensemen. Fancypants moves are great for Youtube but they don't get you Stanley nowadays. Nash has to figure out how to persevere despite the pressure.

*Nice to see Richard$ can score into an empty net. The tricky part will be for him to put the puck in one when there is a goalie there - even one as woeful as Holtby.

*Del Zaster, Stralman and Eminger ... oh, to have Staal, Sauer and Tyutin ... then we'd have Stanley.

*Astounding how quickly Torts goes back to his old habits, leaning hard on a precious few players. Even with elite athletes, the fuel is not infinite and quickly the returns will start diminishing. Half hour of play for McDonagh and Girardi, over 20 minutes for Brian Boyle? Not healthy for them, not healthy for the team.

*Anyone remember Varsity Blues, when Billy Bob asked about a play, saying "is this the one where I trot downfield and act like I'm lost?" I think of that most every time Boyle skates into the offensive zone.

*It is always hard to score goals in hockey. In the NHL it is almost impossible, that's why these players are well-paid professionals. But, in theory, when there are five of your guys and there are just three of the bad guys the odds to score should, in theory, go up. If having one less bad guy out there is called having an "advantage," then having two less bad guys must really be something wonderful. And it is, for everyone except the New York Rangers. Of course.

*Nice to see Clowe back on the ice but he clearly was not 100%. It is scary to think of the risk he is taking, especially when there are capable alternatives available for the amount of ice time available.

*I mentioned the "Any Given Sunday" 'one inch' speech in my wrap of Game 3 and MSG had a dead puck pump-up video to it in Game 4. Could be coincidence but perhaps someone's watching me ...

*PHW Three Stars:
3-Dan Girardi - one goal.
2-Derick Brassard - two assists.
1-Carl Hagelin - one goal and two assists.

Scotty Hockey Three Stars:
3-Brassard - That skilled guy from Columbus keeps collecting points; no, the other one ...
2-Mathieu Perrault - A goal and an assist for this fast, persistent little pest.
1-Hagelin - Bork. Borkborkbork. Bork. So glad the Swede's hard work paid off, really love the hustle.

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