Rangers Vs. Capitals: And We're Tied
Notes from the Rangers win over the Capitals.
- That's another heart-stopping game for both sides. Again, the Rangers allowed the Capitals to keep crawling back into the game, and again the Rangers showed major resiliency to not break.
- John Tortorella has been quoted to say (and I'm paraphrasing) "I don't care so much about the power play percentage, I'm more interested in when the power play converts." That third period power play goal by Dan Girardi (off a brilliant feed from Derick Brassard -- more on him soon) was one of those moments. Huge goal at a huge time.
- Brassard has been the Rangers best forward (tied with Derek Stepan) the past two games. Two assists Wednesday to bring his playoff total to a goal and four assists in four games. His cross-ice pass to Carl Hagelin for the Rangers second goal was brilliant. It was a great read by Brassard to see him streaking and an even better pass to put the puck right on his tape. Brassard sees things other players simply don't. And he has all the skill to get the puck where he wants it to go. He's been immense. Simply immense.
- Speaking of Stepan. Two goals in his last two playoff games. Both of them have been game winners. What a finish on that goal. More impressive? The quick give-and-go with Hagelin right before he rifled the puck into the top of the net. It was executed perfectly and is a real testament to their chemistry. Stepan was the Rangers best player in the regular season. He's playing the same role in the playoffs.
- And Henrik Lundqvist was, well, brilliant. That's a hell of a game from him in really big moments. The Rangers were on their heels for the final part of the third period, and Lundqvist was there to bail them out. The second goal he gave up was soft, but there's nothing you can do about the other two. Nice game from him.
- Mats Zuccarello didn't play much (just 12 minutes) but he had an assist and made some really, really big defensive plays in the offensive zone late. Another big game from him.
- Brad Richards got some big puck luck on his goal and actually looked pretty good. He still made a few bizarre choices but he was skating much better.
- John Moore. My goodness. This kid is unreal. This was a "quiet" game for him, and he still was really good in his own end, made a coast-to-coast rush that had me on the edge on my seat and made some more things happen on the power play. Brassard and Moore are really showing off what they're capable of and that Glen Sather got unreal value for Marian Gaborik.
- OK, so bear with me through this thought. Ryan Callahan was good on Wednesday. He was good in the offensive zone, drew a penalty and played hard. But he made some really bad plays in his own zone that allowed the Capitals to hem the Rangers in a few times. He hasn't been great this series, but he's been good.
- Anyone see Rick Nash in the third period offensively? He made some really solid plays defensively and he was pretty good in the first two periods, but Nash was invisible in the third. The Rangers have been able to get around that thanks to Stepan, Brassard and Hagelin, but Nash needs to step up. And when he does? Watch out.
- Ryane Clowe looked really good in his return. Had an assist and played a really physical game. Derek Dorsett was physical, too. And when the two of them were out there together they hit everything and had good possession. Nice to see.
- Brian Boyle was massive in my opinion. Some huge faceoff wins and some nice defensive plays. Side note: The Rangers as a whole were amazing at the dot. Brassard was 89% and no one was under 50% (minus Taylor Pyatt who took one draw and lost). That was huge for the Rangers.
- Pyatt also played a nice game. He's goten much better in the playoffs. His quick stick knocked down Braden Holtby's pass tat lead to the Richards' goal in the first. Nice to see, his depth has been big.
- What more can you say about Girardi and Ryan McDonagh? The duo shut down Alex Ovechkin two games in a row now. And McDonagh has been brilliant in shadowing Ovechkin despite huge minutes (over 31 on Wednesday). They've been huge in keeping the Capitals from overtaking both Game 3 and Game 4.
- Anton Stralman should get credit, too. He's having a very quietly good series.
- So, with the win the Rangers guarantee a worst case scenario of playing for their lives in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden. They've clawed their way back into a tie and now have the Capitals on their heels. The pressure is obviously on Washington to win at home in Game 5 to make sure the Rangers can't close things out in New York on Sunday. As for the Rangers? They have to feel really comfortable with the way they've played the past two games. Yes, things were shaky, but they got the wins, and that's all that matters.