Temper the giddiness over the six goals for a moment, because, well, you have to realistically say that some of that was on Michal Neuvirth and some of that was on a Washington team that wasn’t great in its own end.
But the truth is, the Rangers had the puck more and did more with it when they had it because they were able to get “there” in time more often then they had been in a while. They were getting on pucks, and on opponents with the puck, or opponents who just moved the puck, and in all three zones. They were physical, they won draws, they looked a step faster (couldn’t have just been Carl Hagelin).
So, before we turn our attention to the Flys at the Garden this afternoon …
1) As well as it turned out, I thought the first period — much better than the previous six, more rugged, more pressure — still featured a lot of dumb stuff. And they survived it.
2) For example, how, with all this emphasis on pucks to the net, does Michael Del Zotto make that extra pass on the 3-on-1 that results in no shot? How?
3) And, with the team in a bit of a fragile state, how different might this game have looked if the Caps had jumped up 1-0 or 2-0? So Henrik Lundqvist, once again, deserves kudos for not allowing them to lose. He was terrific in the first period. Remarkable a couple of times, actually.
4) On one of his magnificent saves, the goal judge flipped the light on and the place went bonkers. Well, isn’t that a useless practice now. I mean, what purpose does a goal judge still serve? What authority does he have? None. The referee makes the call on the puck going in, and if there’s any question, it goes to replay. So most teams, if not all, have moved the goal judge from the best seat in the house behind the net to somewhere else in the building, just so that somebody can turn the red light on. Ridiculous. That light should never go on any more until the referee points that the puck is in the net.
5) Ovechkin=Occasional Monster. He gets cranked up when he sees the Rangers. But teams have figured him out, and he appears too stubborn to change anything at this point. He can and should be great again, as he showed in spurts. But not if he’s going to be that thick-headed. He’ll get the coach fired first, though. That couldn’t have been a good game for Humpty Dumpty’s future.
6) Actually saw a couple of good 2-on-1 passes get through in this one. The one by Derek Stepan was off-the-charts good. Again.
7) I thought Steve Eminger sure had some difficult shifts, didn’t he? But he rebounded nicely as the game went on.
8) Another facial gash for Dan (Block Ness Monster) Girardi. Also, I admire that he went to look after Gaborik after the Ovechkin hit, but he kind of opened up the whole front of the net for that bad goal by the Caps.
9) Did Ruslan Fedotenko say “thank you” after his first goal? Seriously, he deserved one for a while now.
10) I liked what Hagelin brought, and not just speed but hockey sense, too. Lots of guys can fly (Enver Lisin, Rico Fata, Scott Fraser, etc.) I don’t know if he’ll stay long, but he’s already done more than Erik Christensen has all season.
11) This little Dmitry Orlov fella has a chance to be pretty annoying, Kid delivers some big hits.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Ryan Callahan.
2) Derek Stepan.
3) Henrik Lundqvist.
AP photos, above.