1) This sure wasn’t the most exciting game ever played. But you know what? Ya boys don’t mind that either. Want to grind? Want to make it a battle for chances? Fine with them. Afterwards, John Tortorella said this is the type of game the Rangers expect to have to fight through this last third of the season—like the game against the Devils—where scoring is low, games are tight. Again, that’s OK with these Rangers.
2) I did complain yesterday about the lack of noise in the building, and there was silence at times. I ducked for cover when I suggested that Knicks games are louder. But it was a matinee and it was kids’ day and there were sure a lot of youngsters in the building. And when the kids’ folks got going, the kids got into it, too, especially late.
3) I thought at times that the Rangers—even though there was no nasty to this game, and it wasn’t exceptionally physical—kind of dampened the Capitals’ compete level. It sure looked like some of them weren’t interested in getting involved in all of that, including, at times, Mr. Ovechkin, former monster. Ovechkin (on some shifts)=glider.
5) How about this statement start: Dan Block Ness Monster Girardi takes an Ovechkin bomb right off the melon? Fortunately it caught all helmet. And Block Ness laughed all the way to the bench.
6) Nobody was laughing at Ryan McDonagh when he scored that goal and fell in a heap, holding his left knee. Apparently McDonagh has this trick kneecap that acts up, or moves, or tweaks every once in a while throughout his career. It hurts for a while and then he gets through it. McDonagh didn’t miss a shift, played an amazing game, and finally—despite all the great games and big goals he’s had this season—got to wear the Broadway Hat for the first time.
7) Tortorella also pointed out the group of five in front of Henrik Lundqvist who did such a number on Ovechkin’s line: That being Brandon (game-winning, 48-game-slump-busting, short-handed goal) Prust, Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky, Girardi and McMonster. And that their best defensive work was owning the puck. And they did. One of the Washington writers sitting next to me said a couple of times in the first two periods, “My God, they’ve spent the whole game in their own end.” Again, maybe that’s not thrill-a-minute, but boy is it effective.
8) And while the grinders won this game, the Rangers got yet another goal from their heart, soul and captain Ryan Callahan, who lost his balance kicking a pass to his stick, and while falling scored a beauty of a goal. And they got another really good game from the GAS Line, especially that No. 10 guy who could have had a bushel of goals with a little luck.
9) You know whose game I’ve really liked a lot lately? John Mitchell’s.
10) The Caps really might not make the playoffs this year, and the Rangers will, and that trading place wasn’t lost on a lot of people. Prust said, “I guess it’s a little different. They were the team with the bull’s eye on their back. Now it’s kind of us. It’s definitely a little different … I like it this way a lot better.” Washington really misses Nick Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (sports hernia surgery). Backstrom might not make it back this season. And Mike Knuble was a healthy scratch (deadline deal candidate?) All of those guys and Ovechkin and the Caps’ stars have been in the lineup together for eight games this year, and they’re 8-0.
11) Saw two of my favorite size small ex-Rangers tough guys: George McPhee (the Capitals GM) and Pat Verbeek, scouting for Tampa Bay. I was able to clear up an argument that was ongoing up in Canada recently, when somebody suggested Ray Ferraro was the original “Little Ball of Hate.” Verbeek insisted that he was the original. That’s what I had thought all along.
12) I said so yesterday, that I thought it was a great idea to play Lundqvist back-to-back … and I’d certainly play him in Boston tomorrow. The guy’s a horse and a competitor and he wants to play every game, and there’s nothing wrong with letting him do it and feeling pushed once in a while. God knows he excelled when he had to play every game after the deadline last year, and he’d happily play every game from now on out, and he will be playing every game when the tournament begins.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Brandon Prust.
2) Ryan McDonagh.
3) Dan Girardi.
AP photos, above.