Saturday, April 18, 2009

2 DOWN.....14 to go

Another thriller in Washington, Rangers win 1-0! (How does America not watch hockey?!?! Will someone learn to market this sport??? What a game)

The Rangers were out shot, AGAIN, 35-24 (game 1, 35-21). The rangers lost the faceoff battle, again 28-32 (but much better than 20-42 in game 1). Most of the play was in the rangers zone, and Hank was under durress all game.....and the result is the same, Rangers win and are returning to the garden with a massive 2-0 lead.

How did the Rangers pull off the Game 2 upset? In much the same way they pulled off the game 1 upset.

1) Hank. King Lundqvist was AMAZING again. I remember in the middle of the season Hank struggling over a 6 game period, averaging almost 5 goals allowed per game, and all I kept thinking is, "No worries, get it out of your system, Hank always makes a second half push, saving his best for last". Hank is saving his best. He records his third playoff shutout of his career today and it was a legit shutout. Varlamov only gave up one goal, but that wasn't legit "one goal performance". He wasn't really tested much, maybe 5-6 legit shots (but better than Theodore). But Hank was tested heavily, especially early, and late. The first and third periods, the caps recorded 29 shots, I'd say 15+ of them legit, could be a goal, type shots. And Hank stopped them all. He was fantastic again. (Hank's last 5 games against Montreal, Philly twice, Washington twice, all must wins, 5-0-0 1.60 GAA)

2) Rangers out hit the caps again, but by a smaller margin this time, 23-20. The first period they recorded 16 hits, they came out and set the tone for a veyr physical game, that took Washington, specifically ovechkin, out of his game.

3) Heart. The biggest thing we have seen so far this series is the descrepency in heart between these two teams. The capitals have out of this world talent, but this is a team that does not want to get dirty. Where as every time you look up the Rangers are blocking shots. "Star" players are throwing their bodies infront of 90 mph slap shots. There was a nice observation by Eddie Olychk in the second period when a ranger wound up for a slap shot, and Mike Green of the capitals blocked it. The replay showed, Green actually jumped to try and get OUT OF THE WAY of the puck. It just happened to hit him. When you compare that to drury, betts, sjostrom, callahan, and doobie diving infront of every loose puck on the ice, there is no comparison in the amount of grit and determination being showed between these two teams.

More on the game later, gonna go enjoy this. See if I can find some Barry Melrose analysis (he of the picking the Capitals to go to the finals, but also saying yesterday about the Flyers going down 2-0 to the penguins, "The flyers are done, you don't come back from 0-2 down in the NHL. It just doesn't happen" Curious to see if he thinks his Caps are done)
One negative for game 3, if there could be a negative after today's game. The Rangers had a golden opportunity to create a "goalie controversy". If they score 3-4 goals on Varlamov, then Boudreau has a VERY difficult decision as to which goalie to go with in game 3. Whichever one he chose, he'd get a lot of heat for. Not to mention, if he goes back to Theodore, who knows, maybe its in his head that he got pulled, and he's not on his game. Then you would create some in team fighting about which players want who in goal and why, let them tear themselves apart. Well, the rangers didn't work varlamov at all, and his 1 goal result will surely have him back in net at the garden for game 3. Missed opportunity to gain an extra mental edge there. Otherwise, gotta be thrilled with taking both games on the road.

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