NEXT! Caps beat Rangers 3-1

Mike Green: picking the right time to play the best hockey of his life.

Shut the book on the quarterfinal series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. In just five (not that short) games, the Caps sent the Rangers to an early vacation and a hot shave. This is the first Caps playoff series since the lockout (and the first of Bruce Boudreau’s career) that has not gone to a full seven games.

For the first time in the series, a goal was scored in the first period. While on the powerplay, Mike Green caught his own rebound and used Dan Girardi as a backboard for the game’s first score. Scott Hannan stretched a pass to Alex Ovechkin in the second, who then beat Henrik Lundqvist on the backhand. Alex Semin’s one-timer off Marcus Johansson made the score 3-0, which should have been the final. But then this happened:

About a minute later, Wojtek Wolski finally got one past Michal Neuvirth. Oh well. Caps beat Rangers 3-1. Series score: 4-1. The Capitals advance to the next round, but first comes a few days of well deserved rest.

  • Michal Neuvirth was scant seconds away from his second shutout of the series before Wolksi got one through. For a player unknown to many before this year and mocked by another coach on pay-cable earlier this season, Neuvirth acquitted himself exceptionally well in five games. If there’s one goalie in the NHL who has distinguished himself in the postseason, it’s the babyface wearing red in the Washington net.
  • The New York Rangers are a good hockey team. They were able to lick the Capitals righteously two times during the regular season. But the playoffs are a crucible whereby teams’ resolves are tested, and the Rags proved not to be made of sterner stuff after all. They mounted little offense, were flatly out-coached, and resorted to cheap thuggery when frustrated. But…
  • Henrik Lundqvist is a mensch. The King was a giant presence in the New York net: poised and precise. Beating him in five games is a feather in the Capitals’ cap, but that doesn’t belittle Lundqvist’s talent or effort.
  • Verizon Center fans are loud. Maybe it’s time to come up with some more creative cheers though. Share your ideas below. Here’s mine: N-A-S-T-Y! He ain’t got no alibi!
  • Mike Green caught a tasty puck in or around the ear-cular region and did not play another shift. For a fellow who had a point in every game of the series but has been recovering from a concussion, this is a troubling setback. Green did return to the bench, and Bruce Boudreau insists that he could have played him, so we’re encouraged. At least Mike will have a long time to recover before next game.

  • Once again revisiting the curious axiom, the Capitals’ best players were their best players today. Mike GreenAlex Semin, and Alex Ovechkin executed MISSION: SCOAR MOAR GOALS with aplomb. How scary is this team when they play up to par? Lord Stanley scary.
  • Meanwhile, Nick Backstrom is still scoreless since March 6th, going at least 22 scoring chances without converting. Snakebit doesn’t do this drought justice, it’s more like BasiliskfromHarryPotterandtheChamberofSecrets-bit.
  • Who went 80% (12 of 15) on the faceoff dot AND leads the team in facial hair? Bookish Boyd Gordon, who really shoulda combined with Matt Bradley for a goal or ten today.
  • Two goals (the Caps’ and Rangers’ first) were followed by some Rags-initiated brawling. According to Darren “Danger” Dreger, Dan Girardi dislocated his finger when he punched Brooks Laich in the first of those scrums. Instant karma’s gonna get ya.

Joe B's suit of the night

The Capitals won this short series because they played their brand of hockey: getting pucks deep in the offensive zone, cycling until the defense got nauseated, crashing the net, and generally being bad asses in their own zone. On the other hand, the Rangers had neither their signature toughness behind the goal line or any offensive threat tonight, and that might have made all the difference. Those extended shifts in the OZ early on set a tone of this game that never quit. A triumphant and exuberant win for a team that badly needed an early victory in the first round.

And that’s the story of the quarterfinals. We don’t know yet who our second round opponent will be, but we know we’ll have a rested and focused team ready to face them. We may yet see the return of Mike Knuble (hand) or Dennis Wideman (leg) or Tom Poti (jkjkjktotallynotcomingback). But first: downtime. Let’s put to rest the Madison Square Garden drama, the Sean Avery ad hominem attacks, the hay-making hack pieces about Boudreau’s job security or the Alexes’ playoff production.

Four down. On to the next round.

Additional reporting by Ian Oland and we totally ripped off some of Neil’s tweets, too.

  • Ian

    To Whyno’s credit, I love that stat on Neuvy. He’s never lost a playoff series in North America? AHL? NHL? Wow. That’s tremendous. What a game by him today.

  • He’s only lost one playoff game …

  • BobbyG

    The key to the game is what thenyrangers posted on twitter. After the game Dubinsky said the Caps had his team “under siege” the first half of the game “they poured it on us”

    It was obvious almost from the time the puck dropped the Caps wanted to win this game. Their intensity and resolve stood out like bright beacons. And yes it also helped that the Caps best players were their best players in this series closing game. I also can’t heap enough praise on Neuvirth’s play in goal. He is a HUGE reason the Caps closed out the Rangers in 5.

    Who’s next? I don’t think the Caps players or their fans really care. They’re playing like champions now, and they realize the only way they can lose is if they beat themselves. They sure don’t look at all like a team that will beat themselves. Go Caps!

  • To everyone, from your disinterested girlfriend/boyfriend

  • Ian

    Here’s Pierre McGuire talking to the “best young defensive tandem in hockey”

  • Brandon

    My favorite moment of the game: When Sean Avery appeared to accuse Brooks Laich of biting him.

    At that point, if I happened to be Laich, I would have skated up to him and said, “I would have punched you in the nuts, but everybody knows you don’t have any.”

  • J.P.

    Nice job, Caps! The Stoli and PBR will be flowing all evening in celebration 🙂

  • Robert

    I think the NHL needs to put music to the whole game and then roll that as their new “History” ad. Pure Domination.

  • Sam

    Am I the only one who noticed that Eddie ______ (I cant spell his last name-it starts with an O) calls Mike Green “Matt” Green at 18 seconds into the video at the top? This is why games should be on CSN!!Anyways, great job today Caps! On to round 2!

  • Mily

    Great game. I didn’t get to watch it so I was surprised to see that Semin had a roughing penalty. Seems like Semin didn’t slap someone down…but boy do I want pictures to see Dubinsky taken down.

  • Derek

    Totally dominating performance tonight by the Capitals, what a great way to close out a series, and an even better treat to do it in front of the home crowd. Despite the classless and in my opinion poor sportsmanship from a few of the Rangers, I have nothing but respect for the effort put forth by Henrik Lundqvist. I have the sneaking suspicion that with the exception of a handful of goalies in the NHL, this game could have easily finished 5-0, or 6-0.

  • Pingback: Who’s Next? |

  • Rhino40

    Anyone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there may be some omissions from the “next?” photos.

    IIRC, playoffs re-seed after each round. This would seem to indicate that:

    –If Buffalo eliminates Philthy, we get the Sabres,
    –If Bufffalo gets knocked out but the Habs eliminate the Bruins, we get the Habs next, and…
    –If both Buffalo and Montreal are eliminated, we get the winner of the TB-PIT series.

  • Peter

    Rhino, we thought a triptych looked best, so we played the odds with the bottom three: buffalo, Montreal, Tampa.

  • Justin

    Did anyone else want Erskine to beat the living daylights out of Avery?

    And, I’m going to go ahead and say we’re probably going to see Buffalo next round. They have a world class goalie, but absolutely NO offense. The Habs lost all their momentum, so avenging that 2010 series collapse probably won’t be happening. And after yesterday’s shellacking of the team from Pittsburgh, looks like we may be playing the Lightning if the Flyers can actually score on Miller.

  • K4

    Right after Wolski’s goal, watch “tough guy” Avery. Comes up behind Johansson and pulls him down by the face. Then jumps in on Hendricks while he’s engaging someone else. Fedotenko needs to do a better job of holding Erskine down if he is going to cheap shot him (watch the replay, it was what I would call a “suspendable” butt end cheapshot). While watching it I thought to myself, Ruslan, you better not let him loose or the only golfing you’ll be doing is Wii golf from your hospital bed.

  • Bucky Katt

    Need a good Russian hockey chant. Shaibu! Shaibu!

  • Colin
  • Colin