Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog at the Washington Post,
Last night was the first time I had been in Madison Square Garden for a professional sporting event. Some quick, cheap observations, became no playoff series has really started until you start picking on the opposing fan base….
They were profane. Look, there’s plenty of bad behavior in Verizon. Just yesterday someone forwarded me pictures of a Caps fan urinating outside the building on Saturday, in broad daylight. But I’ve been to dozens and dozens of games there, and the profanity last night was on a different level. TVMA would be putting it kindly.
There were dads cursing their brains out in front of little kids. Massive, rink wide “Bleep-hole” chants. Massive “These Refs Suck!” and “Bett-man Sucks!” chants. Repeated “Po-ti Sucks!” chants. Invitations for Poti to perform sexual acts. All variety of curse words directed at the officials. Homophobic slurs directed at people in Caps gear. I passed Bettman in the concourse; just as I noticed, so did a nearby Rangers fan. “I [bleeping] hate that guy!” the fan said to his buddy.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
“We stunk; it’s simple,” the head coach said after Simeon Varlamov blanked the Blueshirts 4-0 to bring the Caps within 2-1, with Game 4 set for tomorrow night at the Garden. “It was a good old-fashioned spanking where we need to take our medicine.”
It was medicine that tasted like acid going down the Rangers’ collective throats. While it’s true the Blueshirts did muster somewhat more of a down-low attack than they had in winning the opening two games of the series, their time of possession yielded nil.
Meanwhile, they broke down numerous times in their own end against the Caps’ skill players, notably Semin, who scored twice; Nicklas Backstrom, who might have been the most impressive player on the ice; Sergei Fedorov, who had a throwback game; and, of course, the unconquerable Alex Ovechkin, the hardest working man on the ice.
Rangers coach John Tortorella discusses the loss to the Capitals tonight.
“He is the guy who wants to win more than anybody, and sometimes he has the tendency of trying to do everything by himself. That’s just something that we have to talk to him and say, ‘Hey, Alex, you’ve got 19 other guys here to help you.’ His personality is to want to do everything so hard and so well and you can’t fault him for that. You just have to reel him in sometimes.”
-Washington coach Brude Boudreau on Alexander Ovechkin. More on the Caps/Rangers from the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Blog at CBC.
via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The New York Rangers had an interested observer sitting on the visitor’s bench as they took the ice for the pregame skate this morning.
Caps superstar Alex Ovechkin watched the Rangers practice before apparently being asked to leave by the home team.
The quote from Ovie on being asked to leave the bench during Rangers’ skate: “Because they’re afraid of me,” he said.
Rangers coach John Tortorella insisted after the skate he had no idea Ovechkin was there.
“Who? Oh, god, this is the first I’ve heard of it,” said Tortorella. “Ask me a question about the game, not that [expletive].”
from John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal,
MSG Network is the country’s first regional sports network to run virtual advertising during its live NHL games, a potentially important application to attract advertisers during the economic recession.
The New York-area RSN successfully tested the virtual advertising by superimposing Subway’s logo on the glass above the dasherboards during the final week of the NHL’s regular season. MSG Network was set to expand on the application during the Rangers’ first-round playoff series with the Washington Capitals.
continued and thanks to SBJ for releasing the paid link to KK readers…
from Stan Fischler of Game On,
If the Washington Capitals aren’t nervous about becoming victims of a first-round sweep, they should be….
You may be wondering — now that the series is two-zip in New York’s favor — why Washington’s weaknesses haven’t been more actively advertised.
The answer is evident: so much hype has centered on Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green & Co. that the automatic tendency is to overlook the fact that hockey still is a team game.
Brandon Dubinsky & Alex OvechkinTherefore, if you have a sieve for a goaltender, an inept defense and generally weak support beyond Ovie and friends, the chances are that you’re going to be susceptible to defeat. And since Alexander The Great scored in neither of the first two games, Washington’s Achilles heels were egregiously exposed.
from Steve Zipay of Newsday,
“I think he’s just let his game go,” said Rangers coach John Tortorella, who said he’s had some “heart-to-heart” talks with the former Vancouver Canucks captain. “When the staff first started, with him, there was a problem with the tempo, the speed we were trying to go, whether it was just confusion or what, all I know is that he’s skating better and I think he’s much more confident with the puck. And he’s playing well away from the puck, too.”
Asked to explain “let his game go,” Tortorella said: “Just relax and play, he’s a good player, he’s good with the puck, he can score goals, he has talent. I think he feels more comfortable in how we’re playing. I think he just said, ‘To hell with this, I need to play better’ and get some minutes.”
Capitals beat writer Tarik El-Bashir & Washington Post columnist Mike Wise discuss the chances of the Capitals making up a 0-2 series deficit against the Rangers.
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from Stan Fischler of Game On,
Should Alex Ovechkin’s name be changed to Ov-NYET-kin?
That’s NYET, as in nothing. Zip. Zilch goals in two playoff games as he heads for Broadway looking more like a bit player hidden among the headlining Rangers as Henny Lundqvist blanked Ovie and his Capitals, 1-0, on Saturday in our nation’s capital.
“We battled all three periods” says the Blueshirts’ behemoth blocker. “I was aware of Ovechkin but I felt sharp and confident.”
Perhaps it’s a bit cruel to demean Ovie, the NHL’s most feared shooter, as the Blueshirts prepare to host the National Hockey League’s most colorful — give or take Pittsburgh — team on Monday night at The Garden.
Where once The Maven’s suggestion of a New York sweep — made here last Wednesday — seemed the stuff of fairy tales, it now seems very possible, if not probable. As I said in my original forecast of an opening round triumph for John Tortorella’s team, GOALTENDING is the be all and end all of playoff superiority.
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