Sort of ripping off the Capitals’ slogan with that headline, but that is what the Rangers did in Game 2. They blocked everything. OK, Alex Ovechkin hit the crossbar and went away cursing, but everything else was stopped before it got to King Henrik Lundqvist or it was gobbled up by His Highness in goal. Add up the 29 blocked shots and the 35 saves and that’s a pretty impressive shutout.
Series over? Not so fast. The Rangers have an opportunity to turn it into a short series, or can let the Capitals right back in it in Game 3. There’s no reason to think the Rangers won’t play as well as they did in Game 2, which was far better than Game 1. But we should also expect the Capitals to play better.
Some thoughts on Game 2 and the series:
1) I don’t even have any more words to ask the question, “How great is Ryan Callahan?” Actually, what has crossed my mind lately when I see him and Dubinsky and Avery is this question: “Why doesn’t everybody give that kind of effort all the time?” I don’t have that answer.
2) The edge in goal. We knew that the King would be the biggest Rangers’ advantage, and he is all of that. I never would have imagined a 1-0 shutout win in this series. The Caps made a bold move to the youngster, Simeon Varlamov and usually you judge a move like that by the result. But the Capitals lost and still made the correct move. The kid had nothing to do with the outcome. He makes the goaltending matchup much closer than ThreeOrMore.
3) Looks like it was a right hand or arm injury to the captain after all. He couldn’t take faceoffs and protected it in scrums.
4) Brandon Dubinsky’s ice time did not diminish as expected with Drury’s return.
5) When Ovechkin went on about Lundqvist’s big pads before the series, maybe he was trying to gain an edge. Or maybe he was just saying what he thought. But now it looks like Lundqvist’s pads might be in Ovechkin’s head. Sometimes you can accidentally convince yourself of something.
6) The winning goal, the only goal, made the Caps look awfully bad. Kozlov committed the bad play at his offensive blue line, Ovechkin, at the end of a long shift, couldn’t get back, and Mike Green, who was trapped, made zero effort to bust it back before Callahan cashed in Naslund’s 2-on-1 pass. They left Varlamov hanging out to dry. Can’t do that in a playoff game, and this time it was lethal.
I posted the stats about 2-0 leads in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the previous threads. Check it out if you missed it.
The Rangers took the Amtrak home last night and will practice late this afternoon, so I will update much later.
AFTERNOON UPDATE, 12:47 P.M.: The Rangers just sent out this notice about fans being able to ride double-decker buses through midtown to celebrate Games 3 and 4:
New York, April 19, 2009 – New York Rangers fans will ride on two Rangers branded Double Decker buses prior to the New York Rangers taking on the Washington Capitals for games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals. Fans will ride through midtown cheering on the Blueshirts and will proceed to Madison Square Garden for the start of Games 3 and 4, which will air live on MSG Network starting at 7 p.m. Lucky fans will meet Rangers alumni and will be given the chance to win Blueshirt gifts and prizes, including coveted playoff tickets.
WHAT: New York Rangers Fans Ride Double Decker Buses Through Midtown
WHO: Rangers Fans and Rangers Alumni
WHERE: Starting at Madison Square Garden (In front of 7th Ave at 31st St. continuing through midtown and returning to MSG.)
WHEN: Monday, April 20th and Wednesday, April 22 at 5:00 and 5:45 pm. (Final bus departures at 6:45 pm for all non-ticket holders to attend viewing parties at Joshua Tree at 35th and 2nd and Mercury Bar at 46th and 9th.)