Brooks Laich with the book-end goals. (Photo credit: Frank Franklin II)
Well, that was an ugly one. The Washington Capitals’ first appointment with the New York Rangers, hosted in the majestically gloomy Madison Square Garden, had all of the poetry of an alleyway brawl. 28 penalty minutes were distributed in the first period alone. Mike Green dropped gloves for crying out loud!
The Rangers got up to an early lead when Brian Boyle beat Jeff Schultz at the circle. All night the Capitals defense was spotty, and it seemed the Superfriends could not make up for it. Every time the Caps tied the score, the Rangers pulled ahead again. But the Caps found strength where we faithful knew it would be: depth. Brooks Laich recorded a pair, Mike Knuble finished the funk, Matt Hendricks provided the GWG, and even lovable John Erskine got on the board. Henrik Lundqvist lay defeated. Caps beat Rangers 5-3.
Las balas en los rojos pantoalones en la biblioteca con pollo.
- Whatever Craig Laughlin did to get exiled from Manhattan, we need to undo it. Eddie Olczyk weirds me out, talking all quiet and that hair.
- Any game in which Big John Erskine scores is worthy of regard. Let us revisit this in the spring.
- For the first time since opening night, Mike Knuble scores! And in a Knubley way no less: within spitting distance of the crease off an Ovechkin pass. That’ll do, sacrificed goat. That’ll do.
- Did Michal Neuvirth look tired to anyone else?
- Tyler Sloan had a rough one. Despite getting a primary assist on Erskine’s unlikely goal, Sloan balanced the scales with a timid whiff in the offensive zone that led to an easy breakaway and goal for Derek Boogard. Sloan should consult the team tailor; something about him in that Caps jersey looks wrong.
- Brooks Laich didn’t play the last period on Sunday night, so we were a pleasantly surprised he dressed tonight. Brooks provided the book-end goals for the Caps: a five-holer during a 4-on-3 and an empty netter in the last ten seconds.
- Props to 22-year old Brian Boyle of the Rangers, who emerged from relative obscurity to become one of NYR’s biggest producers this year. He scored two tonight.
- Boyle’s second one– to be fair– was a gift from Karl Alzner. A shame that this goal came at the end of power play, as Alzer deserved the minus rating and the other PK unit was terrific. Alzner and D-buddy John Carlson recorded -9 and -5 Corsi ratings respectively.
- Eric Fehr hit a wall. He had a -4 scoring chance differential and a -2 Corsi.
- Let’s mark up the game-winner to an expert pass from Matt Bradley, giving Matt Hendricks a great opportunity to drop the puck off on the top shelf. Yeah, they’re tough-guy grinders, but they’ve got talent and gumption in equal portions. Let D.J. King (and his sub 4 minutes of ice time) take note.
- Post script on Matt Hendricks. He had a goal, an assist, and a fighting roughing penalty. Sorry, no Gordie How, buddy. And we were soooo close to getting a funny picture out of Ian.
- Mike Green fights Brandon Dubinsky? I don’t know if I’m gobstopped or nonplussed. I just dunno, man. What do you think?
The Caps continue to win close games through force of will. Even with several defensive goofs and the relative absence of the 8-19-28 line, the Capitals found a way to win through grit. This is only the second game, after Calgary (-2), that the Capitals have managed to win with a negative scoring chance differential (-1). That speaks to the kind of determination and win-lust other coaches speechify about, but only few teams possess.
Good win, boys. Enjoy a day off in NYC; we’ll see you back in D.C. on Thursday.
Written by Peter Hassett in Baltimore.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg in Florida.
Ian Oland added pictures from Hanover.
Rachl Cohen illustrated from Connecticut.
Fedor Fedin should be asleep in Moscow.