I just wonder what we’d all be saying today if the Rangers hadn’t gotten two fluky goals.
I’m just saying, sometimes we judge a game and how it’s played only by the score. More to the point, I’m not taking anything away from the way the Rangers played yesterday. I thought they were fierce, I thought they fulfilled their promise to get in Michal Neuvirth’s grill, I thought they pushed back and punished.
But I don’t think they played a lot different than the way they played in Games 1 and 2. I really don’t.
1) Best Ranger in this series, in each game, not named Henrik … is Ruslan Fedotenko.
2) Power of the ‘stache: On Saturday, Brandon Dubinsky sat in his stall and told reporter after reporter that the Rangers, and he, needed to get to the net, needed to make life more difficult for the Capitals defensemen, and more importantly, for Neuvirth. Then he went out and did it.
3) It’s funny how this team works sometimes. John Tortorella insists that Dubinsky is a winger and he had his best season as a winger this year. But the injury tp Ryan Callahan destroyed their top line, and since nobody else can get Marian Gaborik going consistently, Dubinsky and Fedotenko ended up on the No. 1 line And, man, did they make a difference. Honestly, though, Dubinsky was lacking in Games 1 and 2, especially two Washington goals for which he had the best seat in the house.
4) Erik Christensen. If I could shoot the puck like that kid, I’d be making tons more money than he is, and I’d be putting up Phil Esposito-like shot totals. Shoot the puck, son. Did you see what happens?
5) Said it before, I love the Tortorella-Vinny Prospal relationship. Tortorella was quick to praise him for his huge goal in this game, and just as quick to point out a turnover Prospal committed that led to the Capitals tying it.
6) If I was an NHL coach, I would tell my players to no longer bust it back to try to negate an icing. The reason: The player who does that is then gassed and can’t change for the next defensive-zone faceoff. It’s really an issue in the game today, the way these icings create offensive chances for the opponent.
7) As good as Dubinsky and Fedotenko were, so were Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust and, yes, I’m typing these two words: Sean Avery. So physical, so involved, so engaged. Prust is playing with an edge—he tried to tip over the goalie a few times, challenged two Capitals to fights, and he speared Ovechkin behind the leg after crosschecking him in the back following an Ovechkin crosscheck on Fedotenko. Boyle’s been a beast near the net and along the wall. And Avery’s been the old Avery—hard, annoying, and arriving in ill humor.
8) Big, big, big play in this game: Dan Girardi, the Block Ness Monster, laying out and eating that big, painful shot on a 3-on-2 break. I get on him a lot for leaving his man open in front sometimes, and for trying to do too much, but, man, you cannot question his courage.
9) The Rangers should bring in a lacrosse coach or a basketball coach to teach their power play how to move without the puck, some back-door stuff, or some criss-crossing. All I know is, it’s obvious the Rangers don’t have a legit PP quarterback, and they don’t have the high-end skill other teams have. But they also don’t move much at all with the man advantage, which got the Christensen goal and was blanked otherwise as the Capitals marched to the box all day.
10) Alex Ovechkin had a great goal, when Prust gave him just a little room, but he made a few blunders throughout the day, too.
11) The Prospal goal was some bunch of plays. Dubinsky carried it in and did the dirty work. Gaborik put a dangerous angle shot on goal. Dubinsky got it back and found Marc Staal. And Staal made a great shot, over a sliding Capital and high on Neuvirth, handcuffing the kid goalie and allowing a big rebound for Prospal. That’s the way you do it (money for nothing).
12) Remember what I said about momentum from one game to the next? See?
13) Capt. Drury is 27-8 on faceoffs in this series, after a 15-4 game yesterday.
14) Henrik Lundqvist is so easy to overlook in all of this. But he has been absolutely spectacular, hasn’t he?
15) I can’t get past this ‘stache—which Boyle started, but Dubinsky took to a new low, ‘70s level. I can’t believe I used to have one of those and can’t believe nobody told me I looked like a jackwagon.
16) Before everybody goes too far overboard, the Rangers still need to win Game 4 (the only game in the next five days) … and they may need to win Game 5, too.
AP photo/Kathy Willens, above.