Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Oh, you’ll hear all these critiques of the Caps again—too much perimeter play, not enough traffic in front of Lundqvist, blah, blah, blah. Stop it. Ovechkin was a monster Wednesday night, his highlight-reel goal in the third period the only dividend of what was another passionate performance. The guy had 11 shots on goal—that’s more than what the entire Rangers team mustered in the final 40 minutes, when it was outshot 30-10.
“When you outshoot a team 19-5 in a period in their own building and they come out of it with the one goal, you know the goalie at the other end is doing something right,” said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau.
Folks, don’t overanalyze this baby. The seventh-seeded Blueshirts are one victory away from upsetting the second-seeded Caps because of one man.
“Lundqvist did an unbelievable job,” an obviously frustrated Ovechkin told reporters.
One could conjecture whether Tortorella has out-coached Bruce Boudreau and the only conclusion, based on the three-games-to-one Ranger advantage, that the answer is affirmative….
Is it to soon to celebrate? Of course. But, unless Backstrom, Kozlov, Semin, et. al. quickly stop auditioning for Rip Van Winkle, the horns can be taken out of storage.
-Stan Fischler of Game On. More on the Rangers victory over the Capitals.
from Ryan Dixon of The Hockey News,
You know what they’re saying in Washington. The Capitals were down 3-1 to Philadelphia last year before storming back to force a Game 7, which they ultimately lost in overtime.
Now, facing the same series deficit versus the New York Rangers, the Caps most natural rallying cry is, “We did it before, this time let’s finish the job.”
That notion would be more than hyperbole if they weren’t trying to score goals on Henrik Lundqvist, which is just about the toughest NHL assignment east of Vancouver.
The good news for Washington is Alex Ovechkin looks poised for another late-series surge similar to the one he had last year against Philly.
more and some Canadiens talk too…
from Stan Fischler of Game On,
Was it an aberration or a hallucination?
Was what we saw on Monday night at the Garden an eccentricity or were we just seeing things? Or both?
No matter. A 20-year-old inexperienced, third-string goalie blanked the Blueshirts, four-zip, leaving Rangerville in a state of shock and wonderment – if not awe.
The wondering has everything to do with how to defeat Washington on Wednesday night at MSG. Now that The Maven’s Sweep hopes are history, sweep-minus-one remains possible; if not probable.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
“We need to get a big play at a key time,” said Tortorella. “I thought [Washington’s] top guys brought it up a notch, and that’s what our top guys are going to have to do.”
That means, as it has essentially all season, that Scott Gomez is going to have to be much crisper with his decision-making and execution on the rush. It means that Nikolai Zherdev, who had an encouraging opening 10 minutes of Game 3 before relapsing into ghost mode, is going to have to create and finish. It means that Nik Antropov is going to have to make an impact after a couple of dozy matches.
from Ted Leonsis at Ted’s Take,
I thought we played the way we needed to play last night. While aggressive, we weren’t focused on hits for the sake of hitting. We were more focused on scoring and playing tight, frustrating defense. Our penalty kill was very effective and we buried our chances scoring 4 goals. We are a bigger and faster team and if we control the pace of play, we are difficult to shut down for long periods of time. I think our goaltender’s stats are now better than their goaltender’s stats too. Who would have thought that was possible?
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.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
In what was a rare sighting in the opening two games, we saw Washington players fighting their way to the Rangers’ net, taking hits to make the right pass, and getting their faces smashed in the glass to keep the cycle going in the offensive zone. There were sacrifices made all over the ice.
Consider the opening three goals Monday night, a pair from Semin and a rebound goal from Brooks Laich. All three tallies were from within 15 feet of the net. That’s a dirty area of the ice that’s painful to access. But good things happen when you’re willing to fight your way there.
“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.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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