Henrik Lundqvist answered the call. He stood on his head and led the Rangers to an enormous 4-3 win in the nations capital. He carried the Rangers on his shoulders and did exactly what the Rangers needed for them to win. Chris Drury was definitely missed, but it was encouraging to see Scott Gomez, Brandon Dubinsky, Blair Betts and Lauri Korpikoski step up. The Rangers have taken away home ice advantage for the moment and have the momentum so far in the series.
Lundqvist was absolutely brilliant. The Rangers played an absolutely horrible first period where they were out shot 15-2 (i think). Lundqvist kept the Rangers steady and did not break. He allowed them to get back into the game and eventually get the win. He made save, after save on shots caused by teammates ineptness. He showed why the Rangers are a dangerous team, despite all their flaws. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the Rangers do have Henrik Lundqvist...
Now, not to kill the mood, but if the Rangers continue to take penalties as they did in Game 1, it's going to get ugly. The Caps power play led by Ovechkin, Green and Backstrom is phenomenal and absolutely lethal. They move puck and create a plethora of chances from all areas of the ice. If the Rangers are going to win this series, they must stay out of the box.
Sean Avery walks a fine line most of the time and he nearly cost it when he went out of his way to give Theodore a little love push. Nice idea, get into the already shaky goaltenders head. Just don't cross that line in the sand and end up in the box.
Speaking of Jose Three-or-four, I wonder if there is going to be a goalie change Saturday? Theodore really didn't play horrible, but he was one save short of a possible victory and looked shaky the entire game. He had no feel for the puck and if the Rangers didn't spend a 1/3 of the game on their heels and Cally didn't hit the iron twice, it could have been a much different game.
Alex Ovechkin is an absolute monster. He registered 13 shots on goal and unlike a certain Penguin, he was a threat everytime he was on the ice. The Rangers can only contain him and they need to do a better job of it the rest of the series.
Brandon Dubinsky shook Jeff Shultz out of his pampers and then sniped Theodore for the game winner. It was a huge goal that stole any momentum the Caps had from Semin's PP goal and sealed the game. Dubinsky is an X factor for the Rangers. He was great in the playoffs last season and it would be a big lift for the Rangers offense if he can start to produce.
Marc Staal and Dan Girardi need to step their game up. Girardi took two penalties on Ovechkin and Staal left Victor Kozlov sneak around him for the second goal. Although Girardi's penalties were both highly questionable calls, he needs to stay out of the box. Staal needs to do a better job bringing the fight to Ovechkin.
Markus Naslund had a big goal and added an assist. But he took 3 penalties, two of which in the offensive zone. Stay out of the box.
The schedule helps the Rangers out a bit. It gives Drury an extra day or two to get back into the lineup. They need his leadership and experience. He was desperately missed on face offs, especially since Nicklas Backstrom is so good on the draw. Also, Aaron Voros is miserable to watch. He's entirely too slow and has bricks for hands. His lack of speed cancels out his size and he's absolutely useless. He also took a bad penalty.
Special teams are going to decide this series. It was great to see the Rangers power play step up with goals from Antropov and Naslund. Especially Antropov's goal, b/c unlike Naslund's, it was actually a true product of the man advantage and wasn't scored on the rush. But the Rangers penalty kill can't give up two goals on the power play every game. The Rangers need to do a better job staying out of the box, but they need to limit the chances for Ovy and company and take some pressure of Hank.
Scott Gomez played a fantastic hockey game. His first goal was a softie, but it gave the Rangers confidence and was a game changer. He also picked up two primary assists on the power play and was very effective on the rush. He had a mediocre season, but all will be forgiven if he keeps performing in the playoffs.
One thing to gripe about, well two things actually. First, how exactly is Henrik Lundqvist not a 'star of the game'? I normally don't pay any attention to them b/c most of the time, sports writers assigned to hockey games in the U.S have no idea what they're talking about. But how he wasn't voted in there I don't know.
Secondly, the Verizon Center is an absolute circus tent filled with bandwagon fans wearing those ridiculous "Rock Your Red Shirts". Between the horns, the uncoordinated chants, the sirens, and the ridiculous spotlight they put on their goal scorer, i felt like the UniverSoul Circus was in town.