1) During and after this game, I thought about a lot of stuff that didn’t completely have to do with the game. For instance, no matter how much we think we know, we don’t know. Example: Many of us thought Washington would be a much easier matchup that Ottawa. Many of us thought, well, the Rangers will have a much less physical series against Ottawa while Philly and Pittsburgh are beating the crap out of each other for seven games; and then we thought the same about Devils-Flyers. And here are the Rangers playing their second seven-game series, each with two OT games, while the rested Devils (who had a physical bye in the first round) await.
2) And another thing. I wondered if these playoffs — which might turn out to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before in history — might make next year’s trade deadline different. Because, right around the deadline, Phoenix and Washington were thinking about being sellers instead of buyers. I know the Capitals were going to sell if they didn’t think Nick Backstrom and Mike Green would be healthy this year. Look at those teams now. And Buffalo did sell and missed the playoffs on the final day. Who’s to say the Baby Buffaloes wouldn’t still be playing if they hadn’t sold and just got in? Oh, and the Rangers got John Scott.
3) I’m pretty sure (very educated guess) that John Tortorella’s fines have muzzled him, because when I asked him about the icing before the Jason Chimera goal, before the timeout before the Chimera goal, he didn’t want to discuss it. I wasn’t asking him to criticize the officials. I just asked if there was some confusion or thinking that it shouldn’t or might not have been an icing.
4) Because Stu Bickel had played the puck toward the blue line, and there was a Ranger there, with Roman Hamrlik, and the puck went right through Hamrlik’s skates and down the ice. How can that be icing? Did I miss something? Also, the NHL’s official play-by-play sheet said that play was reviewed? Has anybody ever heard of an icing being reviewed? If somebody did review it, well, they’d better stop reviewing such things, because they effed that up. And how about the long-time hockey writer from Canada asking Tortorella what the timeout was about — when it was obviously because they iced the puck and his players were gassed?
5) I’m not trying to coach (Pat Leonard reference), and I’m not second-guessing, and I certainly don’t want to sound like one of you guys who love to talk lines, because I don’t. But I just don’t like the Rangers’ lines the way they are. I don’t mind Chris Kreider on the fourth line because the kid’s had some struggles lately. I just think, in my humble opinion, that Ryan Callahan should be playing with Derek Stepan, who had a pretty decent game … and I don’t care who’s on the left, though Artem Anisimov makes sense, especially when you need some secondary scoring. And I think, in so many cases this year, especially the Ottawa series, that Brian Boyle with Brandon Prust, and usually Ruslan Fedotenko, gives them so many good minutes and such a good forecheck. Maybe there’s a matchup situation I’m not seeing. But I didn’t care for the lines they used last night.
6) That Alex Ovechkin goal? If Callahan doesn’t blow a tire, that probably never happens and maybe it’s a totally different game.
7) This has got to be the longest the Rangers have gone without a fight. Not that Prust wasn’t trying to rile up the Capitals. He speared The Great Eight in the ovechkins, and he shoved around Jason Chimera, who embarrassed himself by diving backward … though the officials embarrassed themselves more by falling for it.
8) Yes, the Capitals have exploited Henrik Lundqvist’s glove in this series. But it’s been some pretty good shooters who solved it. And these deep-in-the-net, butterfly guys are always susceptible to glove shots … just like bad-angle shots.
9) Going back to the icing that led to the second Washington goal: That’s a lousy break, because it shouldn’t have been icing; then after the timeout, Richards lost a draw. Then John Carlson’s shot hit the toe of Nick Backstrom’s skate boot and hopped right to Chimera … who now has five of his seven career playoff goals against the Rangers.
10) Matt Hendricks is Washington’s MVP in this series for my money. Ironically it was he who lost the draw on the GWG in Game 5. But he’s done everything else, including shut down Marian Gaborik’s line for long stretches, and kill penalties (the Rangers helped him) and won so many faceoffs. And squished people. Like a clean Chris Neil/Zenon Konopka combo platter.
12) Tortorella ripping the effort, to me, is him already coaching Game 7. Because I didn’t think it was about effort. Maybe in a few cases. Do I think this was their best game. Certainly not. But overall, it was Washington’s ability to score on the PP, and the Rangers’ inability to do the same. Tortorella did agree that the four-minute power play “sucked. It killed us. It sucked.”
13) You guys missed some near fisticuffs between yours truly and a radio clown in the tight quarters of the visiting lockerroom (my second such close encounter of the playoffs). Unfortunately I had just turned off my recorder. Well, maybe fortunately considering some of the vocabulary I used. I would have been banned from the blog.
14) Finally, and maybe this should have been No. 1 … we all saw first hand how difficult it is when all these teams are so even, for a team to match the desperation of the team that’s actually in a more desperate situation. We’ve seen it time and time again in these playoffs. That said, I expect the Rangers will not not have to manufacture desperation and will win Game 7. But not easily.
15) Just wanted to see if you’re still paying attention. That’s a photo of the last time the Rangers clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference final. And the last time that guy played was the last time they had a good power play.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Derek Stepan.
2) Brandon Prust.
3) Henrik Lundqvist.
Gravy’s Three Rangers Stars:
1) Dan Girardi.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Ryan McDonagh.
AP photos, above.