Wow. Pretty good Game 1. I’m sure you weren’t thrilled with the outcome, and sure you weren’t thrilled with the play that decided it.
1) I thought Marc Staal and Dan Girardi had some strong game, with loads of minutes, taking and doling out lots of punishment. Alex Ovechkin said he thought they were getting tired in OT from the hits they took.
2) That said, they made a dreadful play on the bad change that led to the Backstrom breakaway, and got bailed out. And Staal coughed up the puck that lost the game in OT. Girardi got knocked on his can by Ovechkin on the tying goal—although I thought one of the forwards—Dubinsky, Stepan and Fedotenko—standing a few feet away might have made a difference on that play. But all six feet were stuck in quicksand or something.
3) And I’m not defending the hairball Staal coughed up at the end, but Chris Drury had a chance under more pressure and also coughed it up. Staal’s was worse, but Drury’s was the one that had the other forwards flying out of the zone. And the only reason Drury was on the ice was because Boyle blocked that shot—and appeared to get hit in the onions—just before the winning goal. And if Staal is getting worn down in these games, they might just have to keep him away from the power play to limit his minutes.
4) This argument that the Ovechkin goal should have been blown dead … Please.
5) I thought Lundqvist was great, and he was a little lucky early on, and the Capitals sure targeted high on him and his glove had to be good, and was. But the Rangers helped Michal Neuvirth settle in, and that might make the Rangers’ main advantage in this series a wash.
6) Boyle and Brandon Prust=Monsters. They really were. Boyle was 12-12 on faceoffs, in a game where the Rangers were awful in that department, and just good all over the ice. And Prust sure reminded me of Adam Graves getting in on the forecheck on the Gilroy goal.
7) I swear, I was just writing in my notebook that the Rangers’ D had to start getting involved in the offensive zone because the Rangers were establishing a forecheck, but the Caps were doing such a good man-on-man job on them in front of the net. Then Ryan McMonster went in deep and had a chance off a cycle, and moments later, Matt Gilroy scored on two good plays by Wolski, and one each by Prust and Boyle.
8) I knew the Capitals had changed the way they played, but I had no idea they would be the more physical team in this series. That guy Chimera is a beast.
9) Because of that, I think Sean Avery has to find his way back into the lineup. Don’t know if he’d go in for Erik Christensen, who was on the perimeter again, or for Mats Zuccarello, who took the early penalty and barely played thereafter. That call, by the way, might have been the first boarding call I’ve ever seen where the guy who was boarded didn’t touch the boards. Wojtek Wolski looked interested in competing, though. So leave him in.
10) By the way, I liked the old-school officiating. Let some of the post-whistle pokes and facewashes go. That’s playoff hockey.
11) All the talk about the kids in their first playoff game. They did just fine—the young D-men, who were terrific, and Stepan (first Washington goal excluded). Zuccarello was willing, too.
12) Marian Gaborik. He sure had a couple of chances. I thought he played hard. I thought that one great save Neuvirth made on him was helped by Boyle’s pass being a little bit in Gaborik’s skates. But he’s got to find a way now. He’s got to produce something. There’s no “nice try” in the playoffs.
13) I should have put this in my “intangibles” category in the matchups before the series, and maybe it would have made the Edge: Rangers an Even instead. Faceoffs. The Rangers were 37-43, not horrible. But they lost a lot of important ones, after Washington icings with their players gassed, and on the special teams … Dubinsky was 7-13. Brooks Laich was 13-5. Drury was 6-2, but they couldn’t get him on the ice in big situations.
14) I thought it was hilarious that a bunch of fans behind the Rangers bench wore ponchos to mock John Tortorella and his little water-bottle tantrum the last time these teams met in the playoffs.
15) Was that John Druce?
AP photo, above.