It’s not accurate to call tomorrow night’s game a must win,
but everyone knows that the Rangers don’t want to fall into a 2-0 hole against
the more talented Washington Capitals.
The first playoff experience for eight Rangers was a
spirited affair, and the boys came very close to stealing an improbable victory
in Game One. Unfortunately, a
controversial call swung momentum towards Washington and Alex Semin gave the young
Rangers their first taste of playoff disappointment deep into the first
must build on the positives from last night’s game. The host of playoff newbies now know what to
expect from Game Two, and they didn’t look overmatched as the first tilt wore
on. The Rangers did a decent job, for
the most part, of keeping Washington to the
outside and denying chances in close, and Henrik Lundqvist was on top of his
game as New York
requires. If the Rangers can settle down
a bit and get more pucks to the net, they have to think they can beat Washington.
The flipside, and the part that no one wants to think about,
is that Washington
looked like it had figured out the playoffs last night. The Capitals still pack enough offensive
punch to outscore and outlast most NHL teams on most nights, but last night
they showed that their commitment to defensive responsibility is very
real. The Rangers lack the talent to
make life too difficult for the Capitals, but Washington did a tremendous job clogging
passing lanes, keeping the Rangers away from the middle of the ice, and
clearing their zone quickly. If Washington is able to
keep that formula up, the Capitals will be next to impossible for the Rangers
So the stage is set for Game Two. Both teams should be feeling pretty well
about Game One, albeit for different reasons. The second bout in Washington should be
a good gauge of whether New York
will be able to make this a series, or whether the Capitals have turned the
corner and are ready to cruise through the postseason.
If the Blueshirts can find a way to score a few goals and
pick up a W, they’ll head back to New
York with their heads held high. If Washington
again plays staunch defense and peppers Henrik Lundqvist with shots, this
series could be over in short order.
Via Andrew Gross, here are the lines the Rangers used today in practice:
- I’d be very surprised if Avery was scratched again. Mats Zuccarello barely played in Game One,
and took a dumb penalty early in the game. Avery is obviously a risk, but he has thrived in the playoffs before and
could have the speed and grit to swing things the Rangers’ way a bit.