Down 1-0 in a series isn’t the end of the world ever, at all. I fully expect this series to be 1-1 after two, 2-2 after four, only because most series are that way, and you know what we saw last night? We saw that these teams are pretty even.
The Rangers had chances to win this game, could have won this game, had a breakaway, a couple of posts and crossbars, had an obvious goal disallowed only because there wasn’t conclusive video evidence, and had a 5-on-3. They had 36 shots on goal, 25 more blocked and 18 more that missed the net. And yet scored once, on a deflection off a Washington skate.
1) … the Rangers aren’t going to win many playoff games at all, maybe none, when they allow three goals. Or when they need to score four. That’s a pretty simple fact. Do you know how many games the Rangers won in regulation this season when they allowed three or more goals? One, the stupid 8-4 game in Buffalo. They had three 4-3 OT wins, two against Boston and the clincher in Carolina.
2) Special teams, special teams, special teams. How many times this week did we say/hear/read that special teams would decide the series? Dan Girardi said that and play around the net would decide the series. We all knew it. The Rangers lost the special teams, lost around the net.
3) They also lost important faceoffs, especially on their own power plays, which made a power play that is mediocre at best, worse.
4) And I’ll tell you again, I didn’t think the first two PPs were terrible, but thereafter they got into the regular-season habit where the puck is at one point or the other and a forward drifts toward the puck, and it ends up with three Rangers above the circles. And that is not ever going to work at all.
5) Speaking of areas where the Rangers fell short, in the nasty department Washington won in a rout. And that didn’t happen last season much at all. I’m not saying that won or lost the game, because plenty of Rangers were physical and plenty of them tried. But Washington was downright nastier, by quite a large margin.
6) Rick Nash, Brad Ricards, even Ryan Callahan, and especially the Rangers defensemen, got tossed around a lot in this game by the likes of John Erskine, Matt Hendricks, Troy Brouwer and Jason Chimera.
7) Nash had some good chances, one great shot short side off Braden Holtby’s shoulder. But he needs to do more, obviously. Richards too.
8) The penalty kill and Henrik Lundqvist kept the Rangers in the game early – and that cannot be exaggerated enough – but later on the PK and Lundqvist, I thought, let them down.
9) Carl Hagelin, who failed to score a goal in the entire playoff run last spring, is off to a flying start. Man was he good. He was one Ranger who understood that you’ve gotta put the puck in Holtby’s fee, whether with wrap-arounds, bad-angle shots, whatever.
10) The penalty on Arron Asham=pansification. But it was a monstrous turning point.
11) Dan Girardi=Monster. But Ryan McMonster, I thought, had a rough start. They both got caught flat-footed on the 2-1 goal breakaway goal that never should happen.
12) Mathieu Perreault took down Anton Stralman, who had the puck in the D-zone, causing a turnover … 99 times out of 100 that’s a penalty. This was the one, for some reason, that wasn’t … 3-1. Game over.
13) I thought some of the young guys, the smaller-role guys – John Moore and Chris Kreider – were really good most of the night. Both had some stumbles, but who didn’t? Moore scored a goal that didn’t count.
14) MSG Network has just become a nightmare with the NBC-like habit of cutting away an instant after the whistle and missing stuff on the ice while going directly to an unrelated closeup of somebody. What a shame. No idea that real hockey fans never look away after a whistle.
15) Andrew Ference, multiple-repeat offender, elbows a guy directly in the head, an indefensible assault, and gets one game, a year after Hagelin, no rap sheet whatsoever, elbows a guy while finishing a check and gets three games. Absurd justice. A joke. (Unless you’re a conspiracy theorist who realizes the influence Mr. Jacobs has with the NHL after helping shut down the sport for four months; or that it’s still easier, in this day and age, to punish a young non-North American than it is a good ol’ North American boy).
My Three Rangers Stars:
1. Carl Hagelin.
2. Derek Stepan.
3. John Moore.
RangerJHW’s Three Rangers Stars:
2. Nash-reaching here.
3. MZA-really reaching.
Poor effort…dumb penalties…Caps looked hungrier… and got much better goaltending. Erskine make you all look like pansies … all game long! As a fan it was difficult to watch… embarrassing!
Your poll vote for Three Rangers Stars:
1. Carl Hagelin (18.57%).
2. Tie, Ryan Callahan (10%).
2. Tie, John Moore (10%).
Photos by Getty Images.