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Rangers Vs. Capitals: Mac And Hank

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Washington Capitals v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • Before the game we talked about how that particular matchup was going to be a pretty big litmus test for this team. The Rangers played a fantastically dominant first period, a rough second period and locked things down in the third. That’s been something of a pattern for this team in 2017, only Henrik Lundqvist isn’t struggling anymore and the Rangers forwards are getting healthy.
  • Those final 40 minutes saw the Rangers call on Lundqvist a lot. There are those out there who maintain he hasn’t been able to beat the big teams in the Metro, but this would have to silence that (if it came from a place of logic, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t). Lundqvist was dominant, especially in the third period where the Rangers tried to put down the landing gear and end things. That includes a last-second save to keep the Rangers up one twice on the doorstep. He was spectacular. He has been spectacular. Don’t try to argue otherwise.
  • We’ve seen bouts of Ryan McDonagh struggles (which is almost as lethal as a struggling Hank) but Sunday night wasn’t one of those moments. McDonagh scored a goal and played a solid game. He played the most even strength minutes (Dan Girardi was right behind him) and somehow notched a 48% corsi to his partner’s 40%. Either way, Alexander Ovechkin’s only goal was score on the power play and ... well ...
  • Listen, the Rangers have played the Capitals enough to know that Ovechkin literally lives at the faceoff circle. Why are the Rangers cheating on the penalty kill and giving him a ton of space. You’ll remember Nick Holden being on the ice for a goal against because it went in, but the shift before Girardi did the same thing. Now, Rick Nash has his back to him as well, but for the low defenseman there’s no need to cheat to the other side. The Rangers overload on the penalty kill often, relying on Hank to pick up the work along the Royal Road. Against Ovechkin it shouldn’t even be considered. Put a body on him.
  • That’s not even an AV thing. The entire NHL leaves him open there. For the life of me I can’t figure out why.
  • Holden, by the way, has nine traditional goals this year. I’d bet he’s on pace for 30 goals if we include those that deflect off him into his own net. Ovechkin’s last night, for example.
  • The first goal of the game is McDonagh doing work. He doesn’t give up on the play, knows when to jump in, and was smart enough to shoot the puck when he had the second of space. Derek Stepan recorded his 30th assist of the year (in 58 games) on the goal, but is still somehow not good enough to be a top-line center.
  • The second goal is the Chris Kreider - Mats Zuccarello connection that’s worked a lot this year. Kreider (who I always said had underrated vision) flipping the puck to Zuccarello who buried it into the low corner. Then there was this:

To which I said this:

  • Mika Zibanejad is so snakebitten that even when he scores a goal it gets taken away. Let’s get a few things straight: A) the play was offside, B) the offside rule that you have to have your skate on the ice is stupid, 3) the entire challenge is stupid. I’m not even saying this because it went against the Rangers, I’ve been saying it since they instituted this. Maybe this works if a fast break is offside, but Zibanejad scored the goal 20 second after the play was offside. It had nothing to do with the goal or the set up. There needs to be some type of limit, because no one seems to like these challenges.
  • Zibanejad even with his struggles: 22 points in 33 games. Derick Brassard: 32 points in 57 games.
  • That’s a big win for the standings and a really big win for the team confidence. There was a level of familiarity with the way the Rangers won, but I do think this offense is capable of blowing games like that open. The Rangers could have easily been up 5-0 at the end of the first. They also could have been tied 5-5 in the third. Relying on Hank isn’t the worst thing in the world, but having a lethal offense to protect him helps. It’s good to see they got the job done without the former, too.
  • Thoughts?