In the opening game of a 7 game series, this was “as advertised” in terms of what to expect for playoff hockey. The referees let the boys play, swallowing their whistles on most occasions, allowing them to police themselves. Intensity was through the roof. Tension could be felt in the air. Out-of-control heart rates were the norm. For Rangers fans, it wasn’t the outcome they had hoped for but there are more games to play and more opportunities to take.
The game started out tentatively for both teams.However, it would be the Caps who brought their attack first. Thankfully, Henrik Lundqvist brought his A-Game as several Washington Capitals had prime scoring chances turned away. Not to mention a couple cross bars. It would take over 40 minutes for the first goal of the game as Brandon Prust, hustling to negate an icing, was able to find Wojtek Wolski behind the Caps’ net, who feed a streaking Matt Gilroy in to the slot for a one-time shot with Brian Boyle screening goalie Michael Neuvirth to give New York a 1-0 lead. The 1 goal lead would not hold up as Alexander Ovechkin was able to jam in a loose puck underneath Lundqvist to tie the game with just over 6 minutes to go.
The game almost went nearly a full overtime period but Marc Staal’s failure to clear the puck in his zone lead to a turnover and Jason Arnott found Alexander Semin in the slot for a one-timer that found the back of the net and gave Washington the win and the series lead 1-0.
Let’s break it down and see how Game 1 went…
Kudos to the young Rangers playing in their 1st playoff game. For the most part, they played with poise and rarely seemed out of place. Derek Stepan looked confident in making plays. Ryan McDonagh looked like he had been out there before. If the Rangers can somehow get production out of their rookies not only will it help them in this series but it will immensely aid in their development.
The outcome is disappointing but by no means the end of the world. Your Blueshirts, a 35-1 shot to win the Stanley Cup, stood toe-to-toe with the dangerous Washington Capitals. All you can ask for is your team to compete and play hard and that’s exactly what the Rangers did last night.
Henrik Lundqvist was the difference for New York. He stymied the Caps early on as the Rangers were still trying to settle in the game and was exceptional for the rest of the game. If the Rangers have any chance of winning this series, Hank has to play every game like he played last night.
Many questioned why Torts subbed Matt Gilroy in for Steve Eminger. After Gilroy’s 1st goal in his 1st playoff game, I don’t think anyone has anything to say.
If Marc Staal and Dan Girardi played over 30 minutes in every game of this series, there may not be anything left of them. Yes, they are youthful and the Rangers’ best D pair but they will burn out quickly.
Adding to that, you can blame fatigue, maybe his teammates who had left the zone already, but Marc Staal has to find a way to clear that puck that lead to the final goal.
I was discouraged at the lack of physical play and forecheck in this game. Boy we sure could have used that Ryan Callahan fellow, couldn’t we??
Mats Zuccarello got just under 10 minutes of ice-time in this game and was a non-factor. I think Sean Avery sees the ice on Friday for Game 2 considering he can give the team a spark and a different look. It may be needed.
Caps rookie goalie Michael Neuvirth was solid, making 24 saves, but by no means spectacular. He saw everything that came his way and most of the Rangers attack was not dangerous. Sadly, his words about the Rangers shooters were right last night.
While nothing stood out as being “ugly,” the Rangers need to get goals if they want a shot in this series. I said it last night on Twitter that the Rangers couldn’t expect to win that game 1-0. Washington is too talented on offense to shutout, especially when the game is on the line. Someone has to step up. It doesn’t matter who it is. Is it too much to ask of our $7.5 million dollar sniper?
There should be no panic after last night. The Rangers proved they could play with the Caps and with some more sustained offensive pressure the tide can turn very quickly. Neuvirth is a rookie and is not battle tested. The Rangers should be remembering that every time they enter the offensive zone.
Game 2 is Friday night 7:30 PM at the Verizon Center.
Make sure you check out the Capitals Outsider blog on Fansided for their point-of-view of last night’s Game 1 victory for Washington.
Tags: Alex Semin Alexander Ovechkin Brandon Dubinsky Brian Boyle Dan Girardi Derek Stepan Henrik Lundqvist John Tortorella Marc Staal Marian Gaborik Mats Zuccarello Matt Gilroy Michael Neuvirth New York Rangers Playoffs Ryan Callahan Sean Avery Stanley Cup Steve Eminger Washington Capitals Wojtek Wolski