NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30: Players from the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals scuffle along the boards in the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
- I already see some of you panicking. Really, guys? Relax please. This was the first game of the playoffs in which I thought the New York Rangers deserves to win and they didn't. The Rangers hit two pipes in the third, Henrik Lundqvist made a mistake he never makes and the bounces didn't go the Rangers way. It happens. It's hockey. And if you walked into this series thinking the Rangers were going to sweep the Washington Capitals, well, they weren't going to and now they can't.
- Let's start with the two goals by Washington. The first is a prime example of why Stu Bickel hasn't seen too much playing time this postseason. It was just a stupid play which lead to an odd man rush which lead to a brilliant goal. That's a play Bickel just needs to send deep. Instead he threw it into the middle and it cost the Rangers.
- Now, onto Lundqvist. He's been the Rangers best player this playoffs, so it doesn't make any sense to rag on him. It was a horrible decision, he got screwed by the trapezoid and it put the Rangers in a deep 2-0 hole. That kind of stuff just can't happen.
Join me after the jump for more.
- Give Alexander Ovechkin all the credit in the world, that was a perfect shot. It was one that you just sit back and shake your head once the red light goes off. That being said, what a bad call on Brad Richards. This is a playoff game. And let's not act like the Capitals weren't getting away with their little shots.
- Speaking of Richards, what a game. He scored a goal, assisted on the second goal and created some great chances in the third.
- Want another reason to not be nervous? That's a tough two-goal hole to climb out of. In fact, I would argue that it was the biggest mental hole the Rangers have been in all playoffs. Think about it, two bad giveaways leading to goals one right after the oth near the end of the first. Then Marian Gaborik dished a perfect feed to Richards for a critical goal to give the Rangers life. Throw in the power play goal and I was very impressed with the Rangers ability to handle adversity. I know they lost the game, but it was a good showing from the team. And it's certainly something they will build on for Game 3.
- Michael Del Zotto was exceptional today. He came ever so close twice to tying this game up. Either way he was brilliant all game.
- I love the Chris Kreider-Ryan Callahan-Derek Stepan line. I know they weren't together for the entire and -- John Tortorella shuffled lines in the third -- but when they're together the Captain America line gets shots on the net, bangs bodies and almost always out works the opposition.
- I loved Kreider's game last night. No, he didn't score on the breakaway, but he played a great game. He's starting to learn how to lay the lumber (he lowered the boom on Mike Green) and he always seems to find space and scoring chances. It's telling that when Tortorella needed things to happen on the offensive side of the puck he moved Kreider to the top line.
- I would get off Gaborik too, guys. It's not like he isn't playing hard, he's just the main target for the Capitals' defenders. Still, that pass to Richards was jaw-dropping.