Game two is tonight. It’s not a “must-win” game. Going down 2-0 is hardly unconquerable, especially with both games being on the road. Still, a win to even the series would be monumental. It would essentially make this a five game series with the Rangers having home-ice advantage. On one hand, the Rangers were pretty even with Washington the whole game, so much that it took a perfect shot from Alexander Semin deep into the first overtime to end it. At the same time, the Capitals were the better team on Wednesday. The effort and urgency was there, it’s just a matter of playing smarter, not playing harder. Let’s look at some game notes as well as what the Rangers need to do differently tonight:
Marian Gaborik- It’s pretty funny seeing Rangers fans placing blame on Gaborik. Sure, maybe in his best game he finished one or two of the opportunities he was given, but anyone who doesn’t acknowledge the fact that Gaborik was the best Rangers skater on Wednesday is being ridiculous. Hell, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner acknowledged how dangerous he was in Game One. Gaborik played like he wanted to be the Rangers best forward. Hopefully he can translate the effort to production tonight.
Brandon Dubinsky- Both Arthur Staple and Steve Zipay of Newsday repeated multiple times that they thought Dubinsky was trying to hard in Game One. That’s not too different from his small slump in the middle of the season. Dubinsky needs to stop trying to do everything. Mainly, he needs to stop overthinking. Dubinsky is an effective player because his type of game doesn’t require much thinking. He drives to the net. He gets to the puck and doesn’t let anyone take it off his stick. He puts shots on goal when he has an opening. It’s when he tries to make perfect plays that he starts to falter.
Sean Avery- Avery will be in the lineup tonight, with Zuccarello the scratch. I can’t see him getting any more than ten minutes (assuming the game ends in regulation), but that doesn’t mean he can’t make a difference. Which Avery will we see tonight? Will we see the one that’s pissed off? That wants to prove to Tortorella he deserves to be in the lineup? The one that forechecks hard, knocks players over, and gets pucks towards the net? Or will we see the one that takes stupid offensive penalties, and doesn’t do much else? You can say what you want about Avery, but other than the one series against Buffalo in 2007, Avery has been a factor in basically every playoff game he’s played with the Rangers. This is a guy who played his ass off against the Penguins with a ruptured spleen.
Michal Neuvirth- Give credit to the young goaltender for staying strong in overtime and for only giving up one goal. Still, he did make a few quality saves, but the Rangers didn’t really test him too much. The one true great shot the Rangers got ended up in the net, and Neuvirth let a few pucks drop in front of him that really shouldn’t have. The Rangers really need to test him tonight.
Alexander Ovechkin- Ovechkin’s goal was nothing short of garbage. He was persistent in refusing to let the play die, though, which is something the Rangers seem to refuse to do. Still, the Rangers did a phenomenal job of preventing him from having many true scoring chances. Staal and Girardi have to do that kind of job again tonight.