Joe Dyton

Posts Tagged ‘Marian Gaborik’

Rangers-Capitals Game Four recap: “Even Steven”

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Well, here we go again.

After four games in the Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal, the Rangers and Capitals are tied at two games each. That’s hardly a shock given how evenly matched these two teams were headed into the series. Now we have a best-of-three, and I wouldn’t be surprised if all three games were needed to decide this one.

What did surprise me was how flat the Rangers came out to start Saturday afternoon’s contest. I think everyone knew the Caps were going to come out guns blazing; they had no desire to go back to New Yorkdown 3-1, and they played like it. The Rangers looked a step slow; I’m not sure if they were still hung over from the triple overtime Game Three win, or if they relaxed mentally because worst case they were headed home tied at two games each. Whatever the reason was, the Caps out shot the Rangers, 14-3 in the first period. The only reason they just 1-0 was because of goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Rangers coach John Tortorella must have had some strong words for his team between periods because they were much more into it when the second period started. I think it’s even safe to say they dominated the first half of it. It’s worrisome that the Rangers take so long to get warmed up sometimes. It seemed like they didn’t get going until Game Six of theOttawa series when their season was on the line. Then on Saturday when they had a chance to put a stranglehold on the series, they don’t show up until the second period. My hope is that on Monday night, their mentality is, “We can’t go back to D.C. down 3-2,” and not, “Let’s try to get this one, but if we lose, we can still tie it up in Game Six and win Game Seven back here.” The Caps played Game Four like they’d be eliminated if the lost it; let’s see if the Rangers can play with the same sense of urgency on Monday.

A few other thoughts…

*I’ll let others pin this one on Lundqvist, I’m going to give him a pass. I know there’s the thinking that he got his glove on Alex Ovechkin’s goal and that he has to find a way to stop Mike Green’s goal in the third, but he made so many other saves that he shouldn’t have. Namely, the stop he made on Ovechkin at the doorstep on the Caps’ first power play and how about the 2-on-0 save he made on Nicklas Backstrom. Yes, I would have liked to have seen him make one of those saves too, but this game isn’t even close without him.

*The Rangers’ offense still isn’t productive enough. I feel like it’s been the same thing since 2009; this team has so much trouble scoring goals. At times, I forget how they ended up with best record in the East. Just about every goal the Rangers score is grinded out; they needed a lucky break on their second one on Saturday. Braden Holtby’s defense hung him out to dry badly on that one. It would help if the Rangers could take advantage of the power play, but they went 0-for-2 again on Saturday. I think it’s too much to ask of a goaltender to hold a team as dangerous as the Caps to no or one goal every game.

*Not a great day for the officials, in my opinion. I agree that Carl Hagelin should have been penalized for slashing in the third period. My question is, why wasn’t Ovechkin penalized for breaking Brian Boyle’s stick in half just minutes earlier? The inconsistency in officiating during these playoffs is appalling. Speaking of inconsistency…

*I’m not shocked that Ovechkin isn’t even getting a hearing about his hit on Dan Girardi. There is just no rhyme or reason to who the league warns, fines, suspends, etc. This at least the third Ranger who’s taken a hit to the head in the playoffs and there have been no suspensions. Is it because Girardi didn’t get hurt on Ovie’s hit, that he’s not even going to get a warning? When Ovechkin got suspended earlier this year for leaving his feet and delivering a blow to the head, the league said once he left his feet, he’s responsible for contact to the head. Isn’t this the same thing? I kind of like the idea that the NHL just has a big “Price is Right” wheel that they spin when deciding whether or not to take action against a player or how long to suspend him for, because honestly, I don’t how else they come up with the punishments or non-punishments that they do.

My fingers are crossed that officiating doesn’t play into the result of Game Five, or at the very least, the Rangers can stay out of the box if the game is tied late in the third. It would also be nice if they could find a way to give Lundqvist some kind of margin for error. Either way, I have do doubt Game 5 will be just as tight and intense as the previous four.

Until then…

Joe Dyton is a marketing copywriter in Washington, DC and a freelance sports reporter for the Frederick News-Post in Frederick, MD. He is a former assistant editor for The Dealmakers real estate magazine in Hamilton, NJ and a former sports writer and copy editor for The Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at thedytonian@yahoo.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dyton99.

 

Rangers-Capitals Game Two Recap: “The Garden of Even”

In NHL, Uncategorized on May 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm

By Joe Dyton

Two games may be a small sample size, but it appears the difference in the Rangers-Caps series is going to be which team can avoid making the crucial mistake.

Throw the seedings out the window, these teams are evenly matched. The Caps have more offensive firepower, but some of that is negated by the Rangers’ solid team defense and Vezina and Hart trophy nominated goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Since both teams have decided to play the same low-risk, defensive style, each game is going to come down to power play effectiveness and avoiding costly mistakes.

Take Game One where Mike Green’s ill-advised line change led to Chris Kreider’s game-winning goal. That brief mental lapse swung the momentum in the Rangers’ favor and the Caps never recovered.

On Monday night, the trended continued in Game Two, but it was the Rangers’ miscues that helped the Caps even the series. A turnover led to a 3-on-2 for Washington that resulted in the game’s first goal. Lundqvist inexplicably tried to play the puck behind the net with the Caps rushing in. Let your “D” men get that puck, Hank! Two-zip, Caps.

Despite the Rangers’ comedy of errors, they were still somehow tied at two with the Caps midway through the third period. Their most costly mistake off call came when Brad Richards took a penalty just 36 seconds after the Rangers had just killed one off. I know some people felt the holding call was marginal, but at that stage of the game, a player can’t give the ref any reason to raise his hand. The Caps’ power play had been unimpressive to that point, but with all the skill players they have, it was inevitable they’d cash in eventually. Sure enough, before Richards could get comfortable in the penalty box, Alex Ovechkin rifled one past Lundqvist.

As the series moves on to Washington, I don’t see either team changing their strategies too much, especially the Caps who were able to steal home ice. Prepare for more low shot totals, a lot of blocked shots, a clogged neutral zone and hopefully less mistakes.

A few other thoughts…

*A bad game for Lundqvist? I don’t like to always like to look at the goal total when judging a goalie’s performance. I’m more interested in how each goal was scored. Last night, the Caps’ first goal was a tic-tac-toe assault finished off by Mike Knuble. I’d hardly put that on The King. Same goes for Ovie’s game-winner. The last things you want to give Ovechkin are time and space and he had both when he ripped that shot past Lundqvist. The only goal I’d put on him was the second when he gave the puck away. Bad decision, yes. Bad game, not really.

*Have the power play units broken through?: I was exchanging texts with my Caps-fan buddy Mike and whenever one of our teams had the man-advantage, we hardly got excited. Could you blame us? After all, both teams started the series 0-for-6. Then wouldn’t you know…

Mike (after Knuble’s penalty): “I’m scared.”

Me: “Like the Caps’ PP, the Rangers’ is bad.”

Ryan Callahan scores on a deflection. Two-all.

I almost fell out of my chair when Callahan tied the game. Mike texted me, “God (the Caps’) PP sucks,” just a few minutes before Ovie scored. We tried to figure out if the Rangers and Caps’ penalty kill units were really that great, or if the power play units were underachieving. Ultimately, we decided both teams are very good at killing penalties, but the power plays are so-so. I’ve actually accepted the fact that Rangers power play isn’t effective, but I’m surprised the Caps have been unable to get it going. I think both teams pass way too much to find the perfect shot. By time they get that perfect shot, 45 seconds of the power play has expired. We’ll see if either team tries a new strategy going forward.

*Missing, Marian Gaborik, last seen New York, NY, Game One, Eastern Conference seminfinals: Where has the Great Gabby gone? I know he set up Richards on the goal on Monday, but this guy scored 41 goals this season! The Rangers need him to find the back of the net if they’re going to win this series. They don’t have enough weapons to get by another round without him. I saw on Twitter today some people wondered if he’s nursing an injury, but it not like he’s skating poorly or anything. I just think he’s been kept in check.

That’s it for Game Two. As a Ranger fan, I’d love to see them take both in DC, but I think that’s unlikely. A split is fine, just as long as they win Game Three so I can watch Game Four pressure-free. Ah forget it, take ‘em both boys!

Joe Dyton is a marketing copywriter in Washington, DC and a freelance sports reporter for the Frederick News-Post in Frederick, MD. He is a former assistant editor for The Dealmakers real estate magazine in Hamilton, NJ and a former sports writer and copy editor for The Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at thedytonian@yahoo.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dyton99.