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Rangers vs. Capitals: That Big City Greens winning feeling

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Rangers Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
  • No this article will not be also written in animated form, although I think that might not be a bad idea for the true Blueshirt Banter 2.0 which is coming in just over two weeks. Yes ... that might be an idea.
  • And about the Big City Green event, which I thought was a brilliant marketing idea from a league that is often far too dry and without much drama: it was great. For the old men yelling at clouds about how they didn’t like it ... well A) it wasn’t for you, dummy, and B) you could still watch the game the normal way on ESPN. My five-year-old daughter didn’t love it — she thought it was “too weird” — and thus watched the rest of the game on ESPN. But if even one kid falls in love with hockey because they got introduced that way, then it’s a win. Tom has more thoughts here, which you should read.
  • Onto the game itself. The Capitals were shorthanded yes, and the Rangers made things very difficult on themselves yes, and in a strange way they still sort of got goalied yes, but a win is a win. I thought the Rangers looked a lot more like themsevles — or the themselves I want them to look like — for most of the game.
  • I know the final score was close, but Darcy Kuemper made some enormous saves that really got forgotten as Washington steamed their way back into the game in the third. The Rangers were up 4-1, yeah, but it could have easily been 5- or even 6-1 without some of his intervention. Would have made the night a little less clenchy for the Rangers too.
  • Igor Shesterkin did the Igor Shesterkin things, but the defense — still missing Ryan Lindgren it should be noted — did some Rangers’ defense things (bad) and allowed the Capitals back into the game. The Rangers had a pretty good period of panic hockey (not a compliment) after the Capitals’ third goal until Jimmy Vesey saved them from themsevles and scored a beautiful backhand from his own zone into the empty net to make the score 5-3.
  • I thought this was one of the better games of late from the big guns. Mika Zibanejad scored two goals, Patty Kane had one of his own and an apple, Vincent Trocheck had two assists, and Adam Fox and Vladimir Tarasenko both added an assist as well. The power play, specifically, looked as lethal as we expected it to when the Rangers made all these acquisitions. Still a little too passive, but that will come.
  • By the way, I think Kane might be the driest player I’ve ever seen. Most of my memories of Kane exist from seeing playoff highlights with Chicago — which, admittedly, are more excitable moments than pre- or post-game interviews — and I see him emotional on the ice, but every interview with him is like watching paint dry. Maybe more of that will come out as he gets more comfortable. It’s not a bad thing, by the way, it’s just that his on-ice emotion doesn’t come anywhere near matching his off-ice emotion. Maybe we’re just spoiled with Igor, Kreider, Panarin, and Zibanejad who are all silly gooses in their own right.
  • I do think Gallant is finding his line comforts a little more. This was a super interesting game in which Zibanejad (18:47) led the team in ice time, with Trocheck (17:49), and Panarin (16:40) coming in next. No forward played less than 11:41 (Motte) and the fourth line got almost as many runs as the middle-six. That’s not a bad thing. The Rangers have an actual fourth line now that can eat minutes, and furthermore, it’s far some sustainable for keeping guys fresh through a (hopefully) long playoff run.
  • I think Filip Chytil is gripping the stick a little too tight. He went on a meteoric run and then sort of saw that offense dip off and I do think it’s getting to him a little. Two glorious chances tonight where he missed the net. He’ll get an ugly one (or the greatest goal ever seen by mankind, no in-between) and it will all come flooding back. He was good last night, I thought, even without any points.
  • I talked a little bit after the OT loss about Pittsburgh being able to make the Rangers’ life difficult with their back-to-back set this week, but things have shifted a little more in the Rangers’ favor. Pittsburgh lost to Montreal outright last night, and with the Rangers win over Washington it puts the Rangers eight (8) points ahead. A Penguins sweep of this mini-series wouldn’t be good, but there’s a little more breathing room than there was yesterday morning. The next team behind Pittsburgh is the Islanders who are behind the Rangers by 10 points and the Rangers have two games in hand, so really Pittsburgh is the only threat coming from behind.