American hero Ryan Callahan is well known by Capitals fans and not for good reasons. When he captained the New York Rangers, his Rags beat our Caps twice. Despite what the national media likes to tell us, he’s not really the most honorable player.
That’s why it felt good to see Callahan fall like a sack of bricks to the ice after he got punched in the mush by Braden Holtby.
Photo: Scott Levy
Coming into Friday night, the Caps had been playing well. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they nearly beat two of the league’s best teams. But then they played Columbus. It was a disaster, and a moment of reckoning.
After the game, the fan base — and the team — seemed to hit the panic button. People on Twitter smashed their keyboards, pointing out Washington’s glaring defensive holes and overreliance on the power play. None of that, however, is anything new. It’s not likely to change before playoff time either.
On Saturday, Adam Oates came up with wacky line combinations in hopes of righting Washington’s four game skid. It didn’t work.
The game got off to an awful start when Rick Nash picked off a silly defensive zone pass from Dmitry Orlov to put New York up just 70 seconds in. Fifteen minutes later, Nash was at it again. A lack of spatial awareness led to two hooking penalties on the Caps. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the former Blue Jacket floated a weak wrister through Phillip Grubauer’s legs. About a minute and a half later, Derek Stepan put the nail in Washington’s coffin with a shot though traffic. Braden Holtby came in, but the game was already over.
Ovechkin tried to give the Caps life with a 5-on-3 bullet early in the second, but Ryan Callahan put Washington back in their place just 86 seconds later. This was never a game anyway. Rangers slam Caps 4-1.
Photo credit: Alex Brandon
In the second period of game one, the Washington Capitals looked wobbly, in a one-goal hole and entirely without momentum. Then Aaron Asham checked one of the Caps in the head and Washington went on its fourth power play of the game. That’s when Alex Ovechkin channeled his inner-MVP-ness, scoring his 31st career postseason goal on the power play. It seized back momentum for the Caps, who went on to score two more goals before the period was done. The Caps held on to win 3-1.
With that goal, the Great Eight is Washington’s franchise leader in playoff goals, passing one of my childhood hereos, Peter Bondra.
When the Capitals drew the New York Rangers in the second round of the playoffs, we were a bit relieved that we wouldn’t have to deal with a player like Brad Marchand diving all over the ice this series.
Perhaps we spoke too soon. 3:50 into the first period, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan cross-checked Alex Semin as he went to the bench for a change. Semin responded appropriately by giving him a whack to the calf, which must be why Callahan dropped to the ice like he was shot. Video of the play is below the jump.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Shutout and embarrassed by the New York Rangers. Now where have I heard that before? The Caps certainly did their best December 12 impression on Friday night, with the added twist of dropping the game in front of their home fans, who didn’t respond kindly.
“I am absolutely not happy,” said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau. “I mean our fans deserve better. That’s three games in a row at home. You know, we deserved to get booed there. It’s not fun when you come home and you got the best fans in the world and you play like that.”
The first action in the contest came when Jason Chimera delivered a hard check along the boards to the Rangers’ Michael Sauer, who didn’t take well to Chimera’s rough play. After a little back and forth the two dropped the gloves with neither getting too much of an upper hand. Just under six minutes into the game the period got ugly for the Caps. It started when Mike Green and Derek Stepan went for the puck in the corner with Stepan catching Green with an elbow. The recently injured Green immediately hit the ice, clutching his head before heading to the locker room as soon as play stopped. Just seconds after Green’s injury Steve Eminger gave the Rangers the lead, as the puck knuckled past Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth. At 14:47 in the period Sauer got into the action again setting up Erik Christensen in front of Washington’s net, putting New York up by two. The Capitals would get a chance to rally when Alex Ovechkin skated down the wing, beat Ryan McDonagh, and fired a shot on Rangers ‘keeper Henrik Lundqvist as he slid down the ice on his rear. Sounds familiar, eh? This time, however, Ovi was unsuccessful.
In the second frame, things would only get worse for the Capitals. At 4:19, while on the power play, Christensen would pot his second of the night, set up by an excellent backhand pass from Ryan Callahan. The Caps in-game entertainment crew responded by playing “Unleash the Fury” much earlier than usual. But that did little to stop Washington’s poor play as later in the period Stepan would extend New York’s lead to four after a misplay by Neuvirth.
In the third, the Rangers put a five-spot on the Caps when Vinny Prospal flicked a wrist shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder. But that wouldn’t be it. Brian Boyle would extend the lead once again in the waining moments of the game. Are you still reading? Rangers rout Caps, 6-0.
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