Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
The New York Rangers got the breaks they needed to beat the Washington Capitals in Game One. It seems like nothing went right for the Caps.
The first period was scoreless despite the Rangers dominating early and the Caps buzzing late. A little past halfway in, Artem Anisimov converted a wraparound after Mike Green failed to contain him. Jason Chimera tipped in a saucer pass from Brooks like before the second period’s final buzzer. Chris Kreider’s slapshot restored the Rangers’ lead as Mike Green signaled for a line change. Brad Richards piled on with a net-crasher. Rangers beat Caps 3-1.
- Braden Holtby fell back to earth. You can try to explain it away by blaming bad defense (although they were bad), but Holtby didn’t make the stops that this team needed. And against a low-shooting team like Rangers, his numbers took a big hit. A .786 save percentage is… Fleurian. Two goals on four shots halfway into the third period? Letting in a 40+-foot slapshot? We need much better from the goalie.
- Marcus Johansson was a solid player last round. If there was one flaw we could point out, it’d be his predilection for turnovers during special teams. That unfortunately continued on Saturday and would have led to a goal if not for a superb diving block by John Carlson.
- Johansson had the chance to redeem himself with a semi-breakaway in the second period. Anton Stralman swept Marcus’s legs out from under him and sent him into Lundqvist (along with the puck and into the net). Depending on interpretation, this play should have resulted in a) a goal, b) a penalty shot, c) a power play, or d) an offensive-zone faceoff. None of those things happened. Dale Hunter, serene as ever, didn’t blow a fuse over the injustice though. Zebras blow. What else is new?
- The Alexes had some bad penalties in the first period: Alex Semin took a retaliatory slash at Ryan Callahan and Alex Ovechkin tripped a blueshirt in the offensive zone after losing a scoring chance. Semin got into the offensive-zone tripping game early in the third period. None of these offenses were smart, and there’s never a good excuse for a stick penalty so far from your own net. The Alexes should buy the PK unit a steak dinner.
- Overall, Alex Ovechkin had a stinker of a game. His Corsi score (minus-7) was one of the team’s worst. He fanned on some shots, missed on most, broke plural sticks, and got shut down every time he made his signature move. His ice time rebounded from those eerily low totals from game seven, so what is going on? Eight… not so great.
- The saucer pass that Brooks Laich fed to Chimera at the end of the second period was a work of art. It careened over the ice to find Chimmer’s stick waiting right in front of Lundqvist. Consider Laich had to know how fast Chimera would skate to place that puck perfectly– that’s the intersection of chemistry and hockey smarts that you find in Brooksy. And how silly are all of us that we get all wistful over a pretty little hockey play?
- Meanwhile, Brooks Laich went 2 for 10 on the faceoff. Ooooouch.
- That Chris Kreider kid is faaaaaaaast.
- Shot totals were pathetically low for both teams: 18 for the Caps, just 14 for the Rangers. And the Caps rang that stupid post– what? 4 times? This series has to open up eventually.
Series record: Rangers 1, Capitals 0
That was bad hockey. Without that exceptional goal from Chimera and Laich, this would’ve been an easy shut out for Henrik. We can complain about the refs and the bad bounces, but this team will need more than luck to win Game Two.
Discipline and pucks on net. Fewer penalties and more shots. Less penalty killing and more net crashing. I just said the same thing three times.
Have a good weekend, everybody. Let’s try to get this one behind us and rally back in number two.
Hehehe. Number two.