Hockey hypertension. The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers played a high-tension matinee game that had everyone watching in conniption fits. Superb performances by goalies Henrik Lundqvist and Braden Holtby kept the game scoreless through regulation despite some dazzling chances at both ends. I’m trying to think of a non-cliched way to say we were on the edge of our seats, but I’m way too wrapped up in this to be clever right now.
Braden Holtby refused all offers, and the Capitals dominated overtime until Mike Green ended it on the power play.
Caps beat Rangers 1-0 (Overtime). Caps lead the series 2-0.
I’m a bit wrapped up in the Washington Capitals this year. I thought I’d be cool, analyzing the game with the sober distance of an expert, but I’m not that at all. I’m a basket case, and I bet I’m not alone. It’s the gosh-darn playoffs, and the Caps are off to a hot start.
Washington bombarded NYR goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the first period, but the Rangers somehow got the early lead anyway. The Caps didn’t change their style though and responded with three goals in the second period. Holtby withstood an enfilade in the third and earned a wonderful game-one win.
Caps beat Rangers 3-1. Caps lead series 1-0. Boom!
Tuesday night begins the best part of the entire year. Eight best-of-seven series start today– with all the rivalries and drama and bad blood that come along with ‘em. Expect big games every night and fresh fallout every morning. Playoffs, baby.
As RMNB’s creators, Ian and I thought we’d ramble on about our predictions for the first round and put our necks on the line. I do not recommend you take any of our guesses to #thebank.
[Editor's note: Renee, a long-time Caps season ticket-holder, won the ultimate prize in the Caps annual "Jerseys Off Our Backs" event on Fan Appreciation night. Here's her story.]
The “Jersey Off Our Backs” winners hang out at ice level and watch the Boston Bruins walk into the locker room.
I started off my Friday like anyone else — scrambling to get work done before the week ended. But one phone call ended my productivity: I had been randomly selected for the “Jersey Off Our Backs” event on Fan Appreciation Day. As a longtime season-ticket holder, this is one event I’ve watched with awe – even back when the Caps would toss their signed jerseys haphazardly over the glass to waiting fans. Long story short, I didn’t get much done on Friday.
Fast-forward to game day. I watched periods one and two like anyone else — anxious to have the Caps produce on what looked to be good play despite the 0-2 score at the end of the 2nd. As the 3rd period started, I gathered with a crowd of lucky fans in the concourse. Count was taken and we were ultimately asked to pick a random manila envelope from our host — the envelope that held each of our future jersey’s numbers. We were escorted underground to wait for the end of the game. None of us saw Mike Green’s goals to tie it up, but we heard the crowd’s amazing cheers and we celebrated too. We followed tweets and text messages from friends and family in the arena, trying to harness the excitement of broken glass and overtime. The horn sounded a win and the crowd erupted in a frenzy. From the end of the hall, we watched the Bruins, heads down, trek to their locker room. And then it was our time.
Saturday night revealed the Capitals’ playoff foe, and that foe is really, really familiar.
The New York Rangers locked up the 6-seed and will be headed to Washington early this week to begin the quarterfinal round. This will be the seventh time the teams have met and the third time RMNB will have written about a WSH-NYR series. The John Tortorella Rangers are a shot-blocking, workaday-type crew– but this year they’ve added convincing possession to the mix (they’re ranked sixth in unblocked shot attempts at even strength when the score is close). The Rangers may be a better match-up for the Caps than the Senators (whose Craig Anderson posted the best goalie stats this year) and the Isles (whose John Tavares is a convincing young star), but the Rags are no slouch either.
If you’re already anxious, you’re not alone. But this is the playoffs, where the gentle hum of anxiety is your stalwart dance partner.
We learned a week ago that Washington Capitals General Manager George McPheecan get quite animated during games. During the third period of Game Seven, McPhee’s emotions boiled over late while the Caps power play sputtered.
The Capitals trailed from the onset, but they suffered what seemed to be a death blow when Michael Del Zotto rifled a shot past Braden Holtby to put the Rangers up 2-0 with 9:55 to go in the final frame. A goal from Roman Hamrilk gave the team life just 38 seconds later, and then the Capitals got a gift: Ruslan Fedotenko‘s delay-of-game penalty.
But instead of converting the man advantage, the Caps squandered it in an embarrassing fashion, setting up shorthanded chances for the Rangers and spending most of their time stuck in their own zone. The low point was when one of the Caps attempted a dangerous no-look pass that nearly ended up in their own net.
CBC caught McPhee in the rafters watching the mess. He was — uh — unhappy.
The Washington Capitals played their season on the edge of a knife. After losing Bruce Boudreau and picking up Dale Hunter in November, the Caps adopted a style of play that yielded smaller margins of victory, but more rarely imploded spectacularly.
Samuel Miller’s pump-up video for Game Seven. Goosebumps!
Tonight, the Washington Capitals will try to do what they so awesomely did to Boston 17 days ago: knock off a higher-seed in their own barn. If the Caps manage to beat the Rangers in Game Seven, they’ll advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 14 years. And just like a few weeks ago, Caps fans are doing whatever they can to send up their good karma to the Big Apple.