Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
Game One of the conference semifinals was a bore. Also: a loss. But the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers brought a lot more oomph to Game Two. It was a hard-hitting, higher shooting, kind-of-awesome affair. And despite any controversies we may drudge up here or complaints we may file, the only thing that matters right now are results.
At 12:20 of the 2nd game of the 2nd series, player number 22 crashed the net. Yep, Mike Knuble got the game’s first goal capping off some good movement from Joel Ward and Keith Aucoin. Then… well it’s hard to explain, but we’ll try: the puck rolled over Carlson’s stick, setting up Kreider for a breakaway that Holtby defused. Beagle moved the puck up to Chimera, who dumped it to Matt Hendricks, who scored a no-look goal*. (Phew!)
Brad Richards scored a 4-on-4 goal as neither Brouwer or Wideman could catch him in transition, and the second period went scoreless.
The Rangers tied it up with a powerplay goal off Carlson’s back halfway through the third period. Carlson reversed that by drawing an interference penalty from Richards, which Alex Ovechkin instantly transmogrified into the game-winning goal. Caps beat Rags 3-2.
- Alex Ovechkin played 3:33 in the first period. Coach Dale Hunter was apparently using him as a decoy to disrupt the Rangers’ lines. That is a curious use for one of the greatest playoff performers in the league. Ovi’s time on ice rebounded late in the second period, and he scored a kinda/sorta important goal. 7 shots in 13:36 for the Cap’n.
- You gotta love Ovi’s celebration on that goal. “I can hear you” is a pitch-perfect response to MSG’s cheers. By the way, if New York fans bust out a cheer that doesn’t follow the “XXXXX sucks” format anytime soon, let me know.
- If there is a player more targeted for hitting than Mike Green, I am unaware. The Rangers made hitting him priority #1 in the first period, and it worked. Tallying a total 45 hits (yeah right), the Rags certainly had the physical advantage.
- Another beleaguered blueliner, Roman Hamrlik, had his own struggles on Monday. Hamrlik got smoked on a few races to pucks below the goal line– that or he loafed them to avoid a big hit. Surrendering the puck to the blueshirts in his own zone, Hamrlik had to compensate by leading the team in blocks. To limit nasty chances against in the future, the Caps have to make sure Roman doesn’t get left out on long shifts.
- You gotta wonder why the Rangers didn’t bring baseball bats and lead pipes on the ice; they wouldn’t have gotten penalized for it. Marian Gaborik boarded Matt Hendricks without punishment and Marc Staal‘s battleaxe swing at John Carlson’s legs pulled only a minor slashing call.
- Marc Staal‘s current Staal Power Ranking: 6th of 6.
- Michael Del Zotto and Stu Bickel‘s defense on the Knuble goal was laughable. They weren’t marking guys, shutting down passing lanes, or even getting their sticks in the play. If those guys get matched up with Aucoin-Ward-Knuble for the rest of the series, this could be a lot of fun.
- Tortorella’s Rangers were playing an aggressive two-man forecheck that kept the Capitals frustrated in their own zone. It was a little reminiscent of the strategy Guy Boucher used to sweep out the Caps last spring.
- Stephen Walkom: the only referee for whom intent to blow isn’t needed. His amygdala blows for him. Purely a reptile brain thing. No intent needed. He just automatically blows. (Using the word blow figuratively here.)
- We’re not saying Mike Knuble didn’t deserve two minutes in the sasha box for that high-stick– that high-stick should be taught in schools or installed in a museum. We’re just saying Dennis Wideman‘s pretty face getting stuck up high a few ticks earlier also wanted for justice.
- Braden Holtby made 24 saves, but it was not his best game again. He owes that goalpost an ice-cold Shasta; that poor baby carried a lot of water for him. There’s also something to be said about rebounds, but hey… like the title says: RESULTS.
Series record: Rangers 1, Capitals 1
No one has seen Dale Hunter’s bookshelf. We don’t really know how wise he is. All we know is that he doesn’t articulate his strategies in front of the press, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s doing.
He was a professional athlete of the highest order. If you don’t think that requires intelligence, then you don’t have much intelligence either.
And at this point, we care about results above all else. The long-term predictive value of team fundamentals mean astonishingly little to me compared to W‘s. Whether Dale Hunter wants to play three-dimensional chess with Tortorella or just fart on a snare drum, so long as he brings the wins we’re totes cool.
Say what you will of Alex Ovechkin’s ice time. I care not one iota. Look at that shot total. Look at the number under the G column on the stat sheet. Those are results. Results like that have a semantic density so high that their gravitational force knocks over time-on-ice like a houseplant.
The Capitals now head back to DC with the series tied. These next two games at Verizon Center are unspeakably important, but we’re gonna try and speak about ’em anyway.
We need loudness. We need cleverness. We need wholesome, fun-for-the-whole-family taunting of the Rangers. And we need unconditional, fury-unleashing, red-rocking love for our Caps team.
If you’ve got a ticket, you’ve got a duty. Do your duty.
* UPDATE: Jason Chimera got credit for the second goal. I really don’t think he got a piece of it.