Rangers-Capitals Game 2 Recap

I’m beginning to see a trend with these Eastern Conference playoff games. The loser in all but one game has been shutout including tonight’s game where the Caps were 2-0 winners over the New York Rangers. Oddly enough, this victory came in game 2 of the series to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. This wasn’t as exciting as Wednesday’s contest and the Caps certainly weren’t at their best but it’s win they “grinded it out for.”  Sometimes good goaltending, defensive player and special teams can lead to good things like playoff wins!

Thoughts/Observations:

– Make no mistake about it, the Caps were outplayed for 40 minutes tonight, especially in the opening frame where they were outshot 13-7. The Rangers forechecked harder and didn’t allow the Caps to get the puck deep in their zone at all. Things changed big time in the 2nd period when the Caps flat out dominated the Rangers and scored the only two goals of the contest. I’m pretty sure New York had zero scoring chances during that period.

– Michal Neuvirth has earned himself the starting job for at least this series unless he is disastrous in games 3 & 4. He looked very calm and collective tonight to earn his first NHL playoff shutout. The defense in front of him deserves a lot of credit for only allowing 22 shots but he made a lot of big saves when he had to. Time to see how he does in a more hostile environment at Madison Square Garden.

– 18 shots on goal and only recording three in the final period aren’t going to win you a lot of games even if you go into that frame with the lead. We’re lucky the Rangers don’t have a lot of offensive talent or we may not be leading the series 2-0.

– This is becoming quite a rivalry. You can sense a lot of bad blood between these two teams with all of the scrums happening after the whistle and there’s a few fights just waiting to happen. Stepan actually looked like he wanted to go with Erskine a little bit.

– Sean Avery is a clown. Annoying, nobody likes him but he is oh so entertaining.

– They say you live and die by special teams in the post-season. The powerplay finally converted tonight (though they were 1-3) and they killed off both New York powerplays only allowing two shots combined.

– The Caps are still continuing to squander chances. The two biggest ones tonight were Mike Knuble’s shorthanded chance going off the post and Alex Ovechkin’s breakaway being shut down by Lundqvist. Let’s hope we can finish those in games that we aren’t winning.

– The best line for us tonight was probably the third line of Johansson-Laich-Chimera. They had the best corsi/fenwick rating among forwards and had cycled the puck nicely on Chimera’s goal. Chimera also led the team in SOG’s with five. Funny how he went from a possible scratch to one of our more productive players. Bad news for Eric Fehr but I think he may replace Marco Sturm at some point. Something to note about this line is that they had easier zone starts compared to others which would explain the high corsi rates.

– Carlson and Alzner had another strong game by limiting New York’s “top line” tonight and Alzner having three blocked shots. One of them seemed to hurt him a bit which had me, and the rest of the fanbase, worried sick. Scott Hannan also had a strong game skating 21 minutes and bailing out some of Jeff Schultz’s misadventures….

– You can tell that Mike Green’s presence on the powerplay is really showing. They were passing the puck better and getting it to the net a lot more efficiently when he was on the ice. His shot on net is what opened the door for Jason Arnott’s goal. Also, Green only skated about 16 minutes tonight which is really strange for him but it’s probably better this way for now. Also blocked two shots.

– Only one player had a shift length of over :50. That’s what I like to see.

I’m a little worried going into Sunday’s game since the Rangers arguably played better than us tonight and they are definitely going to be hungry to get their first win of the series. It doesn’t help that the game is on the road either and what happened to us the last time we played at MSG. My hope is that we can take at least one game there and finish them at home. A sweep would be nice but I don’t think it’s likely.

Three Stars

1. Michal Neuvirth

2. Jason Chimera

3. Karl Alzner

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