Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Survival. That's the only word that comes to mind after that game. The Rangers didn't so much win, as they did survive. I think we can put Dave Puck's misguided Alex Ovechkin/Ryan Callahan comparison's to bed. Ovechkin, after setting up pretty much all the offense for the Caps leading into game 4, but without a goal, was amazing. 11 shots on goal, including his first goal of the series, in the third period to half the Rangers lead, 2-1. I think I heard a collective, "Oh f*ck" come out of Madison Square Garden at that exact moment. Anyone who says they weren't terrified every time Ovechkin touched the puck this game is in serious denial. One group I am sure will admit it, the Rangers defense. Every time Ovechkin got the puck, including the goal he scored on a great individual effort, the Rangers defense just back pedaled, were back on their heels, and refuse to challenge him for fear of him burning them and getting a break away. He abused every Ranger one on one all game, and with a lesser goalie could have had 3 goals tonight. (Not including the post he hit on a shot that badly beat Hank, and the crossbar he set up for Federov)

The Rangers owned the first 5 minutes, they played even the next ten, and then the Caps dominated the final 45 minutes of the game. The Caps out shot the Rangers THIRTY to TEN the final 40 minutes of the game. The play was always in the Rangers zone, and the Rangers just couldn't get off the ice. Washington's second to last power play, with about 10 minutes left in the game, the Rangers penalty kill unit was on the ice the ENTIRE TWO MINUTES for the second time this game. At the end the puck slowly trickled to Callahan who had an easy clearing chance, except he couldn't lift his arms to move his stick, he tried to kick the puck and almost fell down. So exhausted he COULD NOT MOVE HIS STICK.

How did the Capitals not destroy the Rangers? The same way they were down 2-1 coming in...Hank. The guy just keeps getting better every game. The announcers can give all the credit they want to the Rangers defense, and blocking shots, but the fact is, the caps are getting 35 or more shots every single game, and 10-15 of them are ELITE shots. The guy is being attacked back there start to stop of every game, and has been amazing. Against potentially the best offense in the NHL, and against what I believe is the NHL's best player, certainly it's most dangerous, and he has held them to 8 goals in 4 games (2 per game). 8 goals on 149 SHOTS! A .947 Save percentage, that is absurd, especially against THESE guys, under THIS pressure ALL GAME...EVERY GAME. If the Rangers pull out game 5, all hank has to do is show up the rest of the way and he prob already has the Con Smythe wrapped up. (Not trying to get too far ahead)

Stars of the Game: (Only talking Rangers here, forget the Caps)

1) Do I need to say it? Hank, 38 saves (career playoff high) on 39 shots. There is a difference between being a up and coming young goalie playing very well (Varlamov) and being potentially the greatest goalie on the planet, in Hank. That difference showed tonight. There is only one King. Said Star #2, Doobie, of Hank, "He's like Tina Turner. He's simply the best." Said Paul Mara, "He's awesome. We love him. He's the King."

2) Doobie. He picked up an assist tonight, but his game was so much bigger than that. With Drury's wrist damaged, someone has to step up on the faceoffs and Doobie did that winning 15 of 17 faceoffs! He also played an incredibly strong defensive game, having the best legs of any of the Rangers forward who were incredibly gassed.

3) Drury. Scores the game winning goal, the guy clearly has a bum wrist but comes up big in the biggest game of the season.

4) Redden had an incredibly strong defensive game. Probably for the second time this series was the Rangers best defender. He was in great body position all game, he was consistently clearing the puck, made good first passes out of the zone, he was the champion of the rangers "bend but don't break" defense.

5) Penalty Kill Unit: Unbelievable effort, killing SIX washington power plays, 6 for 6. Hank was the star but great effort by these guys as well, next to Hank, they were the difference in the game.

Things I didn't like at all tonight/Bonehead players/plays:

1) The rangers can't stop ovechkin from doing whatever he wants. They just can't stop him. The defenders look terrified of him. He does whatever he wants, whenever he wants. At some point, if Hank slips up AT ALL, ovechkin is gonna score 3 goals in a period. It's Hank vs Ovechkin, and hank is winning, but I give the defense little to no credit, Ovechkin is just running them over.

2) Avery (should have known the game that the experts at CNNSI and ESPN spotlight Avery as the "key" to the rangers winning, he is their worst player)...the rangers have played great with him since his arrival in New York. Partly because he brings so much energy, partly because he's a very good skater, and partly because he has been an agitator, but not taken stupid penalties, tonight may have been his worst game as a ranger. Two absolutely brutal penalties in the third. The refs weren't singling him out. The refs actually tried hard all game to let chippy play go, ignoring at least a handful of penalties on each side, but in a one goal game, where the Rangers defense was EXHAUSTED, how do you PUNCH A GUY IN THE FACE? How do you then hack another guy in the head with your stick?!?! Avery had no control of his skating, his emotions, or his game, and could/should have cost the Rangers the game tonight. I can't imagine he will be seeing too much ice time in Game 5.

3) Torts, has had a very strong playoffs behind the bench, but I need to get an explanation for why with just 3 minutes left, the Rangers most reckless player all night, Avery, is on the ice? Now it is possible he was the only one of the forwards with any legs left, maybe, but unless the other guys are dead, you can't have avery, in the state he was in, on the ice then.

Talk more about around the league stuff, ridiculous rosen comments, and a preview for the rest of this series later, gonna take a little breather and try and reflect on how the Rangers have been badly out played for 4 games, outscored by a goal overall, and are up 3 games to 1.

Dave Pucks Take LIVE from MSG:
Well the best team lost tonight and I could not be happier. The Rangers were outplayed at every position except one - but Hank dominated - stopping an incredible 38 shots on goal. The Rangers hung in against a relentless Capitals attack. Scrapping - fighting - clawing - and willing their way to victory.

I haven't yelled so much since - well - since the Giants beat the Patriots.

Great game Nugs. Wish you were here. I still can't quite believe it.

And still - we've got to win another one somehow.


  1. Great posts, Nugs. On ESPN they are calling Valamov's 2 goals "shaky". On the second one he did seem a little weak - but I was way up in the cheap seats.

  2. I think to call him "shaky" is classic ESPN...they didn't actually watch the game (or didn't know what they were watching), and only saw the highlights or boxscore.

    I think the goal he gave up on drury wasn't weak, but it wasn't a great goal either. Hank would have stopped it, but the other goal? It was off a deflection from his own defender, few goalies would have stopped that (although Hank did an equally tough one off Roszival). The big story is, once again, we didn't really test him, but we got enough done to win.

  3. And yes - after watching number 8 with my own eyes I agree. No matter what the plus-minus or the goals-per-shot percentages say - Ovechkin is a game-changer, a force, and a huge talent.

    With all the payroll we've got - why can't we get one guy like that. Can you imagine what the Rangers would look like with Ovechkin?

  4. Lundqvist and Ovechkin on the same team

    Arguably the best defensive and offensive assets in the NHL right now

    I don't know what the Rangers would need to do to steal a player from a team whose revenue increased 40% this year alone because of that one player - but let's go for it

    How crazy is hockey - Ovechkin only makes 3 million dollars a year more then Redden - I know that is a lot of money - but when you look at the monetary difference between equivalent players in terms of the skill levels of Ovechkin and Redden in say MLB, it is so drastically different (like say Arod vs. DeRosa)

  5. You're right Will - whatever the Caps are paying - Ovie is worth more. And The Rangers have probably overpaid for a couple of their players. Watching Ovechkin in person I could see how much he contributes - how he moves without the puck - how well he skates - how the whole game changes the moment he touches the puck - how well he sets up his teammates.

    Maybe we can't ever get him - but we could really use one lights-out goal scorer.

    Still - it is amazing to see how hard these Rangers are trying - and how much they've done with nothing but grit and goaltending.