Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
Game three of the quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was an opportunity for a statement. The Capitals could have played just as they had last week and put NYR in a headlock. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Capitals got drawn into a quagmire on rocky ice– a penalty-punctuated, back-and-forth battle that they could not win despite dominating the even-strength game.
Rangers beat Capitals 4-3. Capitals still lead the series 2-1.
- The Caps got off to a rollicking start, killing off Alex Ovechkin’s penalty for gregarious hockey-hugging and then scoring the game’s first goal when Nicky Backstrom deflected John Carlson‘s shot past Henrik Lundqvist. MSG went silent, but it did not last.
- Joel Ward high-sticked Derick Brassard– wait, seriously? Again? Ugh this was like the worst part of last year except for the entirety of Dale Hunter’s coaching decisions. Brian Boyle scored a gorgeous goal as the man-advantage expired– beating both Mike Green and Braden Holtby near-side.
- And then came the too many men whistle, which was completely appropriate, but applied to the wrong team. (Pic by hockeyshopped)
So that’s a travesty right there. Some folks said that possession is necessary for an excessive manliness whistle, but these folks are incorrect. Any of those Rangers players more than five feet from the bench (n=7) could and should have been assessed for the call.
- The penalties kept coming in the second period, as it took the Rangers just 7 seconds to convert Braden Holtby‘s trip of Nash into a lead.
- The Madison Square Garden ice is not known for its pristinity (checked: actual word) in early May. While there was some fancy finesse play in each period’s opening minutes, the back half devolved into chippy junk. That was bad for the Capitals’ game, particularly since the Rags’ wrangled up a lot of power plays in the first half of the middle frame.
- Mike Green filled in the one-goal hole late in the second with a really pretty wrister to the top shelf, where mama hides the double stuff Oreos. I’m just gonna keep on harping on the “healthy Mike Green is scary Mike Green” thing until the lamestream media (fake snark) picks up on it.
- The Caps defense rolled out the red carpet to Aaron Asham, who caught a pass from below the goal line to re-establish the Rangers lead early in the third. Yucky D too much tonight.
- Jack Hillen, whom we all love so hard, sent a flubbery wrister off the faceoff that ballooned past Lundqvist (after a Jay Beagle tip– I called it!) like so many Gummy Bears cartoons. Do you remember when cartoons were about a food product that was literally all sugar? Ahh, childhood.
- John Carlson and the top line were not able to clear the zone during a sustained Rangers possession, giving Derek Stepan the opportunity to put the Rangers up a goal with six and a half minutes left. That lead stuck.
- Alex Ovechkin drew a high stick with two minutes left in regulation. The resulting power play was a little too hesitant considering the state of the ice. Crash the net, y’all.
That’s okay. A Caps-Rangers series isn’t supposed to be a walk in the park. They’re supposed to be torrid, evenly matched, heart-rending affairs, and this was one of those.
If any lesson can be taken from this, it’s that Madison Square Garden ice sucks, and the Caps must simplify to succeed there. That means less passing and more shooting– hoping against hope to get the puck elevated and towards Lundqvist, who frankly enjoys an unfair advantage on home ice.
I’m not filled with negativity or disappointment after this one. It’s hard to be bitter when Eric Fehr played like such a stud. I don’t think bad whistles were the sole culprit, and I do think the Caps deserved most of those calls. If they play the same game over again with a bit more discipline, they’ll get the win.
The Caps will be coming back to Verizon Center this weekend. The only question is whether they’ll be bringing a win home with them. I think so.
— RMNB (@russianmachine) May 7, 2013