“Here, You Take the Puck!” Rangers beat Caps 2-0

Greg Fiume

Photo: Greg Fiume

Wednesday night’s bout between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was billed as “Rivalry Night.” I’m not so sure. While the recent Rags and Caps teams have certainly made like Crystal Lake camp counselors– hooking up every May– the games have been as trite as an overcooked slasher flick. Both teams grew more neanderthal and conservative in the last few years, making for some really stifled hockey. Under Adam Oates’ increasingly offensive system and Alain Vigneault’s canuckley deployment, I hold out hope this will change, but nothing about Caps-Rangers gets me excited.

Those feelings, it turns out, were justified. The Capitals put up maybe their worst game of the year.

Scoreless through the midway mark, the Rangers broke through with a sneaky far-off wrister by John Moore and then a close-up skill move by Ryan Callahan.

That was it. Yuck.

Rangers beat Caps 2-0.

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Why the Washington Capitals Lost

Jared Wickerham

Photo credit: Jared Wickerham

Looking back over the last few years, I feel like I could articulate reasons for each year the Capitals got bounced from the playoffs. Last year’s Hunter Caps didn’t generate enough shots to win more than 50% of their games. Boudreau’s 2011 trap-Caps got beat by the Bolts’ suffocating two-man forecheck. The 2010 Caps were a solid team that ran into a white-hot goalie, i.e. they got Halak’d. And in ’09, an injured but explosive Caps crew couldn’t withstand the Cup-bound Penguins.

This year is a bit tougher. Certainly New York’s excellent goaltending deserves a bunch of credit for vanquishing the Capitals, but I’m hard-pressed to characterize this iteration of the team and how they fell short. I think that’s due to the abbreviated season, one bereft of a real training camp for rookie coach Adam Oates to implement his system. And that system itself is harder to peg down– I suppose it relies on a quick transition game (but not as wide-open as the 08-09 version) and using an overload defense (but nothing we’d describe as a trap, thank goodness).

So my goal is to find out — objectively– who these 2013 Caps were and how they got beat by the Rangers. (Plus: kitten GIFs.)

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Done

Patrick McDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

The 2012-2013 Washington Capitals are no more. Felled in seven games by Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers, the Caps have done the thinkable: an early-round exit from the playoffs for the fifth straight year. Some will call that a pattern, some will call it a curse. Some will call it karmic justice or the inevitable victory of a superior team over a bunch of preening Eurotrash, but those guys are dicks. Screw them. This is our goodbye, and we’re doing it our way.

Goodnight, sweet Caps. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

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Scott Levy

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.

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Caps beat Ranger 2-1 (OT): Ribeiro Rules!

Patrick McDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Ack. I’m all jammed up like a Phish live record over here. This series is not good for people, plants, or other living things. The corrupted bastardization of hockey the Rangers have foisted upon the Capitals is some perverse thing not spoken of in polite circles. Where’s all the end-to-end action? The shot totals in excess of 40? The goalies giving up goals like Galileo dropped the orange? The Rangers forced the Caps into a constipated brand of hockey that is actually making my back seize up as if I were eating pancakes. Everything is all tensed up, and it goes on way too long. We’re supposed to enjoy it, but it’s really just survival.

The Rangers grabbed a lead in the game’s first minute, putting the entire DMV area’s bowels on red alert, but playoff hero Joel Ward tied it up in the second. The Caps leaned in during the third period, but we headed to overtime anyway– where Mike Ribeiro became a Capitals legend.

Caps beat Rangers 2-1 (Overtime). Caps lead the series 3-2. Sunday is an elimination game for New York.

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Back to Even: Rangers beat Caps 4-3

Scott Levy

Photo credit: Scott Levy

I don’t know how you guys are coping, but I am doing poorly. A playoff series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers seems constitutionally incapable of being stress-free. Game three’s penalty problems continued in game four, and the Caps struggled with special teams and other complex ideas such as shooting and passing. The Rangers seemed to be able to summon a lead on a whim, leaving the Caps to mount a comeback pretty much throughout.

Despite the Caps getting better (and more desperate) as the clock wound down, the Rangers won another game on home ice.

Rangers beat Caps 4-3. Series is tied 2-2.

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Bad Ice and Bad News: Rangers beat Caps 4-3

Bruce Bennett

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.

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GAME OVER GREEN! Caps beat Rangers 1-0 (OT)

Greg Fiume

Gorgeous pic by Greg Fiume

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.

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Greg Fiume

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Oh god. Oh god. Oh. God.

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!

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The Freaking New York Rangers– Again

caps-rangers-playoff-seres-again

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

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.

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