Photo credit: Scott Levy
We should have known better. We should have been more cynical. We should just have assumed this series was going to seven and enjoy Mother’s Day.
But nooooooo. We watched the Caps play an undisciplined-yet-solid game on enemy ice, giving up five power plays. No one’s saying the Caps are angels, but this is silly. The Rangers did nothing with their big chunk of man-advantage time, but one lucky bounce off Steve Oleksy’s arm made this a perfect afternoon for New York: a shutout without any penalties committed*.
Rangers beat Caps 1-0. Game seven tomorrow night.
- Well, we kinda knew it would happen like this. Mathieu Perreault took a clean– but way late– hit by Michael Del Zotto. No whistle. Ryan Callahan lured Jack Hillen into roughing, and the Caps killed the penalty. Then, Eric Fehr put an elbow into Derek Brassard‘s shoulder, whose master thespian skills got the attention of the refs. The Caps killed all their first period penalties (including a long 5-on-3), but it was taxing. The whole bad-referee conspiracy theory thing is tiresome, but I don’t see how some of these calls are defensible. I really do think the Caps are doing more naughty things in this series, but not this many. And as the team who has had the puck most of the series, they’ve committed a curious number of offenses. That’s all I have to say about it.
- So I made a big deal last week about how articles slamming Alex Ovechkin’s defense are out of proportion. Alex probably didn’t read those articles, but he did feel like throwing me a bone, blocking two big shots in a first period shift. I appreciate the gesture, but I’d really rather not have my team’s $10-million superstar throwing his body in front of ballistic vulcanized rubber. If you disagree, I have two words that end the debate: Sidney Crosby.
- The Rangers came out of the first intermission motivated, tilting the ice for 10 minutes before Derek Brassard got a shot past Braden Holtby by way of Steve Oleksy‘s deflection. Rick Nash didn’t get a piece of it– no matter what the NHL scoresheet says.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s line got caught out in a long shift at the tail end of the second period. Most of that time was spent scrambling in their own zone, though Ovi did break out for a pretty chance on Henrik. That 96-second shift was just one portion of a fast-going second period, which the Rangers dominated.
- After a few days of chatter over possible injuries and defensive match-ups, Alex Ovechkin was electric on Sunday afternoon. 5 shots, 12 attempts– but nothing hitting the back of the net. He’s due.
- Remember that time in the third period when the Caps got away with a too-many-men penalty? That was nice for a second, until Joel Ward was whistled for a light crosscheck that sent Dorsett into the Rangers’ net. Ugh, I said I wouldn’t kvetch about penalties anymore, but here we are. At least New York is garbage on the power play– 2 for 20-something (and climbing) this series.
- 28 saves for Braden Holtby, plus the one behind his back. Beast.
*UPDATE: Stepan and Girardi were given roughing penalties for the scrum at the final buzzer. Carlson and Brouwer also got tagged for it. This is completely inconsequential, but putting an asterisk on NYR’s “perfect” game is the closest thing I have to joy right now.
Everyone’s been saying that the Caps have to stay out of the penalty box. It’s no less true now that it was then, but we haven’t really seen any effort to make that happen yet. We have seen an exemplary penalty kill unit, so there’s that at least.
Okay, game seven. We’re used to this by now, right?
Listen: no team has lost on home ice in this series. The Caps have outplayed the Rangers in probably five of these six games, and they can do it again. Dial down the passion, pull a couple power plays, and stay the course. No sweat.
Crash the net.
P.S. – Call your mom if you’re lucky enough to have one. Mine is great, and I’ll be bummed out that she won’t answer the phone tonight with a cheerful “happy hockey!”
See you guys tomorrow.