2012 NHL Playoffs: Rangers Vs. Capitals - Holding Momentum

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: The New York Rangers celebrate a third period goal as Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals reacts in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 28, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers got a huge 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon to take a 1-0 series lead against the Washington Capitals.

And although the Rangers got the win, which was certianly the first priority, there were some issues which need to be worked out. For starters, the Rangers only managed 14 shots on net -- yes, three of them went in -- but more often than not that isn't the case.

It's not that the Rangers' offense was ineffective either, they just didn't seem to get through the Capitals' defense enough to create more shoring chances. With that being said, I thought the Rangers had quality scoring chances all game, they were just very spread out.

But the Rangers have been fighters all season long, and they showed that fight in the third period where the offense went off for two goals. That was enough to propel the Rangers to the opening game victory, but now the Rangers need to make sure they take care of business in Game 2 to take control of the series.

Join me after the jump for more.

On Saturday the hero was Rangers rookie Chris Kreider. Kreider scored the game-winning goal on a perfect shot from above the circles and then just 90 seconds later had the primary assist on Brad Richards' goal to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead.

It was a stunning performance from the 20-year-old kid who some preferred not to see this postseason because it would burn a year of his entry level contract. Now the Rangers can't seem to survive without him.

Before the game on Sunday I wrote an article about why Kreider was a key player for the Rangers this series. Here's what I wrote:

Kreider was easily the Rangers best forward in Game 7. He was one of the Rangers best forwards in Game 6 (where he notched the game-winning goal). Back to Game 7; he played over 18 minutes, set up two different scoring chances, forced the turnover on the Marc Staal goal and used his frame and speed to create space for himself all night. It was honestly as though the Senators didn't know how to handle him when he had the puck in the offensive zone.

If he can bring that to this series, then look at what the Rangers have going for them up front: Kreider, a suddenly red-hot Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin (who was great in both Game 6 and 7), Brad Richards (who I think had a fantastic first round), Marian Gaborik (if he comes out of his slump) and Ryan Callahan (he's been brilliant). Those would be the Rangers top-six players.

This was exactly what happened in Game 1 against the Capitals. John Tortorella was able to roll the top two lines back-to-back (which gave the defense breathing room and allowed the Rangers to keep the puck in the Capitals' zone).

If that continues throughout this series then the Rangers have a very good chance at being able to take a 2-0 series lead.


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