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Rangers Vs. Capitals: Last Second Meltdown

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Notes from the Rangers last-second loss to the Capitals in Game 1.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

- There are two sides to the final 10 seconds or so of the game, so we're going to start off by doing this in two parts. The first part is, of course, the non call after Nicklas Backstrom hit Dan Boyle along the boards to free the puck up and help set up the game winning goal. At best, that's a hit from behind. At worst, that's a predatory headshot from behind. Either way, that has to be a penalty, I don't care how much time is left in the game. Because if the officials really were so concerned with calling a penalty that late and impacting the game -- and since officials aren't available to the media we'll never know how they missed it -- they ended up becoming the only thing anyone was talking about. And Backstrom won't receive any supplemental discipline even though I bet Boyle has a concussion as a result of the hit.

- The second aspect of the final 10 seconds, thought is the Rangers just sat around and waited for a penalty. And the Capitals made them pay for that little sequence with their Game 1 lives. Boyle pinning the puck there isn't a bad move, but the other four guys on the ice puck-watching or waiting for a penalty cost the Rangers the game. Play to the whistle. The Capitals did and they won because of it.

- I thought the Rangers players and coach handled the game really well after the game. I'm the fan. I'm the blogger. Let me blow a gasket (and I really did) and let the fans explode. Let me write about it the next day and question the level of sanity in the officials who somehow called a penalty on Chris Kreider without seeing it because Jason Chimera fell down but those same officials allowed Boyle to get boarded/take a head shot and lay prone on the ice and do nothing about it. In that situation I want my team to focus on the second paragraph, not the first. And to their credit they did. The Rangers on the ice blamed themselves for puck-watching and Alain Vigneault refused to answer any questions about it after losing his mind on the bench -- highlighting the lack of coverag on the final play to the media.

- Some media members wondered why Vigneault didn't crush the officiating after the game. That's a John Tortorella special that does absolutely nothing. It doesn't help and the officials aren't going to look at it and change the way they call the games. The officials will watch last night's final minutes, maybe admit they missed a call and forget about it. They don't care. They shouldn't care, but it would help if they got things right.

- I'm almost happy the Rangers lost the game like that, to be honest. The boys in the room talked about how it was basically an overtime loss, which is exactly right. But that's not a good 60 minutes, the Rangers can be (and have to be) so much better. Maybe this fires them up? Maybe they finally come out and play a complete 60 minutes on Saturday. Nothing better than pure motivation.

- Martin St. Louis. Oh boy. Not a lot of good things to say about him at all. Forget being a Mats Zuccarello replacement, St. Louis looked out of place all night in the top six. It's really bad when the younger players who have no playoff experience are miles ahead of where one of your key veterans is. Maybe move St. Louis down to the third line and move J.T. Miller up.

- I hate the Rick Nash nonsense. I hate it. He's not scoring, and he needs to score, but he's also been really unlucky. And you know what, even when he's not scoring he's making things happen. He drew two penalties, was a beast in the defensive zone, had his chances and made things happen. And with St. Louis anchoring that line down (not something I thought I was going to type this year) it's tough to really make things happen. As a fan you should be far more concerned with St. Louis than Nash.

- I thought Henrik Lundqvist was pretty exceptional, to be honest. The Joel Ward goal is the result of a guy being wide open in front of the net and the Ovechkin goal is ... well, an Ovechkin goal. No one is stopping that.

- Speaking of Mr. Ovechkin, the Rangers had no plan for him, which is surprising since he's kind of the player you should have a plan for. Alain Vigneault got his lunch handed to him all night. The fourth line playing against the Ovechkin line off a faceoff? With home ice? That's delusional from the man in charge.

- One of the biggest observations? My boss made a good point between periods: Right before the Ovechkin goal the Rangers cleared the puck on the penalty kill and Barry Trotz pulled Ovechkin off the ice. At this juncture Vigneault had a choice: pull Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh off the ice or leave them on the ice for the full two minutes (which they can handle). He pulled them off the ice, and Ovechkin jumped on and roasted Boyle for the goal. That's on the coach. Plain and simple.

- I do have to say, though, Capitals fans might be the most defensive fans in the league. That hit on Boyle is legal because (these are all direct quotes): "Boyle was already against the boards so he can't get hit from behind," "Backstrom hit him in the back first so it can't be a hit in the head," "Boyle dove," "Boyle's head was never touched." And no, those are not coming from Japers' Rink and I am not in the mood to hear about any of you going over there and causing trouble. I promise I will come down with heavy fists if you go over there to start trouble. You're not going to change their mind so ignore it.