If you watched the game against the Anaheim Ducks last week, and tonight's game against the Washington Capitals, you saw two completely different hockey teams. Last Thursday, you saw a team who was being extremely exposed, and looked lost at times in their own zone. Fast forward six days, and you have team that looked like a well oiled machine, while sticking to their system.
The New York Rangers were strong on the forecheck tonight, and didn't give the Capitals an inch of space. They were also very sound in their defensive end, and illustrated the true potential of this up tempo system when it's working at maximum potential. Of course, the Rangers are not at the top of their game just yet, but tonight's performance was strongly encouraging.
One trend that has carried over for the last few games was the lack of energy in the opening period of the game. Unlike prior nights, the Rangers jumped right out of the gate looking for blood. They were quick on their feet, and gave the Capitals zero time to think or make a play. In the opening few minutes, the Rangers took complete control, and were outshooting the Capitals by a count of 9-1.
If you thought the first period was great, the second period was like night and day. The Rangers piled on shot after shot, and had a season high 21 shots throughout the second frame.
John Moore eventually converted after some serious pressure in the offensive zone, and sniped one over the shoulder of Braden Holtby. It was just a perfect example of how Alain Vigneault wants his defensemen to jump into the play, and John Moore delivered perfectly.
The Rangers didn't take their foot off the gas pedal and picked up another goal from Ryan Callahan, as he swung at the puck in midair, and was able to knock it in behind Holtby for the 2-0 lead. Since the first period, you could sense that the goals were going to come if the Rangers stuck to their game plan.
The third period was more defensive coming from the Rangers, as they were hanging onto their 2-0 lead with 20 minutes left to play. Luckily for the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist came to play tonight, and posted his third consecutive shutout against the Washington Capitals, dating all the way back to Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The government may have reopened, but Mr. Lundqvist did not approve of it.
After having a compact schedule to start out the year, the Rangers will have yet another three day break before they head into Newark and take on the New Jersey Devils.
Bring on the Devils.