After a shaky effort in Washington on Thursday for Game 1, the Rangers looked to bounce back in Game 2 as they looked to even the series heading back to New York. Well, things didn’t pan out well for the Rangers as they fell in overtime at the hands of Mike Green who scored the lone goal in Game 2 of the first round.
Henrik Lundqvist turned in an astounding effort as he made 37 saves across a span of 67:52 of ice time. Lundqvist kept the Rangers in it as he was making save after save. The way he was playing, you would have thought that the Rangers were going to escape the nation’s capital with a victory. But, unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
The Blueshirts have gone 0-for-7 over the past two games on the powerplay, something that is unacceptable for a team with this much talent. Rick Nash made a tremendous end-to-end rush to blow by the Washington defense, and he found himself alone working his way in on Braden Holtby. His shot rang off the post, but he did manage to draw a slashing penalty on Troy Brouwer. Ok this has got to be it, the Rangers have a powerplay with a little over 3 minutes to play in the final period, they have to score right? Nope. They passed the puck way too much, and found themselves generating very little offense on their powerplay.
Then, with 46 seconds to play, Karl Alzner chopped at the puck with his stick and sent it clean over the glass. I for sure thought it was going to be a 2 minute minor for delay of game. But, as the officials have been all year long, they missed the call and deemed it “unreviewable.” Unreviewable? The situation room in Toronto has giant flat-screen tv’s which they could have easily used to take a look and all the camera angles showed that the puck went clean over the glass and did not deflect or touch ANYTHING. After the game, the league stated that the puck “deflected” off Alzner’s stick. How could the puck deflect if Alzner took a clear chopping motion towards it?
The league clearly got this one wrong, and the Rangers were denied a powerplay opportunity which would have carried over into the eventual overtime. About 7 minutes into the first overtime period, Ryan McDonagh shot a puck into the crowd and it was obvious that he was going to sit for two minutes. If the Rangers learned anything from Game 1, they know that they can’t put the Caps on the powerplay or else it will come back to bite you. After some puck possession, Mike Ribeiro gave a nice soft feed over to Mike Green who blasted a one-timer from the point, and that would be the only shot that beat Lundqvist. As the Caps celebrated their newborn 2-0 series lead, the Rangers skated off in disappointment as they now find themselves in a hole heading back to Madison Square Garden for games 3 and 4. A hole which the Rangers are very much capable of digging themselves out of.
- Henrik Lundqvist: 37 saves, first star honors. Not much can be said about how this guy played other than “phenomenal.”
- Rick Nash once again created offensive chances for the Rangers and he managed 3 shots on goal in Game 2. Eventually, this man is going to find the scoresheet.
- Ryan McDonagh: Other than the delay of game penalty in OT, him and Girardi found themselves once again shutting down one of the most elite players in the league (Alex Ovechkin).
- Powerplay: 0 for 7 over the first two games is just horrendous. I am usually the one to blame coaches for PP failures but at some point players like Nash, Moore, and Richards have to start producing if the team wants to be successful.
- Ryan Callahan: Someone who hasn’t found the net in two games. When he scores, the Rangers are a successful bunch, but right now he is not producing.
- Faceoffs: This has to be stressed in the locker room by John Tortorella. Faceoffs are one of the keys to a successful hockey game and they can sometimes turn the momentum around. The Rangers must be successful in the faceoff circle if they want to stand a chance against the Caps.
I truly believe that the Caps are a beatable team. The Rangers just need more puck luck, they need their powerplay to quickly turn around and they need to be successful in the faceoff circle. If they can get all three of those things going, this series will quickly turn around.
The Caps have landed in New York, and are ready to face-off at the Garden for Game 3, a pivotal turning point in the series. Be loud New York, your team needs you.
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