Two-nothing and two-nothing.
Nothing being the important word.
Are the Rangers done? No. Not yet. In the playoffs, what happened yesterday doesn’t matter one lick today, and we saw evidence of that in the first period of Game 2, after the Rangers lost in OT in Game 1. They were, I thought by a pretty fair margin, the better team at the start of Game 2.
What happened in Game 1 had no bearing on the start, the middle, or the finish of Game 2. None. And if you want to look at it as the Rangers have to win two in a row, and have to now win four of the last five, well, that’s real math, but there’s no way any of that is impossible, and no way the Rangers can even let any of that enter their thinking.
And I’ll say this, and by no means intend this to be a pep talk for them or for you. For seven periods so far, it hasn’t been men vs. boys. It hasn’t been all Capitals by any stretch. The Capitals have been a little bit better, and they have been helped by the Rangers’ inability to put points on the board.
1) Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to the Capitals as they barreled down the stretch. I heard they were playing better defensively. I had no idea how much better. And I admit, I had no idea they were this physical and nasty.
2) That said, I think the Rangers’ second, third and fourth lines and six defensemen are as good as the Capitals’ second, third and fourth lines and six defensemen. And though the Capitals’ No. 1 line hasn’t yet dominated a game, you can’t compare it to the Rangers’ No. 1 line … because the Rangers don’t have one.
3) I also expected a Capitals goalie, either one, to cough up something. This kid hasn’t had to be great, but he was pretty good in period 1 of Game 2, and looks pretty unflappable so far.
4) Just wanted to point out that, since the Rangers smacked around Jose Theodore in Game 1 of the 2009 playoffs, they have scored eight goals in eight playoff games (three of those in a 5-3 loss in Game 6). In other words, they’ve scored one or none in six of those eight.
5) And, yeah, the Capitals have some soft guys on their side, too. But the Rangers’ soft guys couldn’t have been any softer.
6) About the 1-0 goal. Thank goodness Mike Keenan is in the studio, because nobody else wants to say anything negative about anybody or anything. Coach K pointed out that the coverage in front, especially by Brandon Dubinsky, was bad on that goal. And it was. Chimera=Beast.
7) About the 2-0 goal. Let’s start with the penalty call. Most times when you have multiple guys pushing and shoving in a scrum, if the referee decides to let some of it go, he’ll say, “That’s enough” or “No more” or something like that to let the guys know that the next one gets a penalty. I don’t have any idea if the officials said that before Ryan McDonagh knocked his man on his keyster. If that warning was made, then it’s a penalty. If it wasn’t, that’s a pretty weak call. Pretty weak. Then, on the PK, Chris Drury almost won the draw, got beaten on the wall by Alex Semin, and the Capitals got the good bounce that went to Jason Arnott, all alone.
8) The Rangers power plays were dreadful, and it’s long-term now. Again, they don’t have a legit PP QB. But they also almost always lose the draws on the PP, which immediately costs them possession. And with the limited skill they have, they need possession—and I know, that’s fairly obvious. Duh, you need possession. But the Rangers aren’t a team that’s going to skate it up the ice and set up. If they’re giving up a free clear off the draw, it could take a minute or more to get it in and set up.
9) I understand Alex Ovechkin taking a pass off the wall, behind him, and going around Dan Girardi. And I’m sure there are better defensemen than Girardi who’ve been victimized by Ovechkin like that. But I don’t get where Marc Staal’s partner was when Staal had his shot blocked and Erik Christensen had to (feebly) play defense as Henrik Lundqvist made a huge save.
10) Unavoidable: Sean Avery discussion. He was good. He was very, very good. And smart. Like when you go into a scrum and Erskine is trying to smack around Prust or somebody, Avery took the opportunity to rough up Semin. That’s smart. That’s effective pestiness, effective intimidation. Avery’s not going to intimidate Erskine or Chimera, though he aggravated them. He might get into the head of a guy like Semin, though. Good job by him.
11) Some of the Rangers have really been good through two: Staal, Sauer, Boyle, Prust, Fedotenko, Prospal. Some others, not so much.
12) Looked like Mike Sullivan had a little John Tortorella moment with some fans behind the glass at the end of the game.
13) Unrelated to this game … and I could never feel sorry for Matt (that piece of carcillo) Cooke. But he has to be wondering why he’s sitting out the entire first round, and LA’s Jarret Stoll got one game. The NHL should just shut up. It’s so, so, so, so spineless when it comes to these suspensions, even when it’s clearly a cheap-shot/head-shot. Yeah, they’re trying to clean it up. What a farce.
14) If the Rangers had won this game, regardless of the score, we’d sure be talking about that first period, because it was a spectacular period of playoff hockey, wasn’t it?
15) Not to single out the guy, but I thought Bryan McCabe has really struggled with the pace of this series. Unlike some of the others, it’s been more about his legs than his will.
AP photo, above.