Capitals-Rangers Game 4 Recap

I’ve stated a few times that winning one of these two games at Madison Square Garden would be critical if the Caps wanted to take this series and while they missed that opportunity on Sunday, they got it done last night and did it in thrilling fashion. They now lead the series 3-1 and can look to finish things off at Verizon Center this Friday. It should be noted that the Caps were in this same position last season I don’t think it will carry a similar result because there’s a lot of things going differently for the Caps in this series. The biggest thing being luck.

I mentioned this in an earlier article, but the Caps had virtually nothing go in their favor last season when they were shut down by Jaroslav Halak and the tandem of Hal Gill and Josh Gorges. This time, there’s a lot more things going their way. Case and point; Jason Chimera’s game-winning goal in double overtime. It only happened because Marian Gaborik seemed to have a brain fart and knocked the puck away from Lundqvist and right to Chimera, allowing #25 to pot an easy goal to clinch game 4 for the Caps. Same with Brandon Dubinsky’s break-away in overtime being negated by him colliding into the referee. Speaking of refs, them not blowing the whistle fast enough on Alex Semin’s goal was also kind of lucky for us too. See, there’s more things going in our favor now and it could be what wins this series for us.

Notes/Observations:

– Chimera’s stint on the first line filling in for Mike Knuble was kind of uneventful aside from the game-winner (when he was on the ice with Fehr and Johansson) but I see him as an adequate replacement for Knuble seeing how they have similar skillsets and Chimera is a better skater. We sure do miss Knuble’s stick handling, though but that’s the trade-off you have with the two players. Still, I think Chimera will definitely stay in the lineup for awhile with how he’s playing. Five shots on goal, three hits, crashing the net, etc.

– “Crash the net, score goals.” This appears to be the only way to beat Lundqvist and that’s how we beat him all four times tonight. Marcus Johansson did an excellent job of hustling to the side of the net to bang in a rebound for the second goal and he also made a nice tip-in off John Carlson’s shot for the game-tying goal. I wonder how much we will see of this in game 5? I’m hoping for a lot.

– I didn’t really pay attention to the whole “Boudreau hates MSG” but judging from how annoying that building was tonight, he probably should have kept his mouth shut. That’s just Bruce’s personality though and it comes with the territory when you have him as a coach, along with the winning records, ha. Seriously though, if we won in regulation, the first thing in this article I would have said would be; “Hey MSG, I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” or something along those lines.

– Double overtime means ridiculous ice-times and the leader for the Caps forwards was Nicklas Backstrom, who has continued to look “off” in this series. His back-checking on Dubinsky’s goal was very bad and I felt that he wasn’t much of a factor tonight at all. Decent night at the face-off circle, though. Also, there weren’t any ridiculous shift lengths either.

– Mike Green was very good tonight, I thought. Our powerplay has been moving the puck significantly better since his return (the one in OT not withstanding) and he has been making smarter pinches in the offensive zone now instead of ones that lead to odd-man rushes. Also played 4 minutes on the PP and penalty kill and led all Caps in ice-time with about 33 minutes.

– Big minute guys for the Rangers are no surprise; Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Girardi playing nearly 40 minutes and blocked 9 shots. Someone’s earned himself a good night’s sleep.

– I think the second period has been awful for one team in each game this series. It was a disaster for New York in game 2 and for us in the last two games. We surrendered three goals, were outchanced big time and couldn’t establish any forecheck whatsoever. After that, the tables turned and we were able to get back in the game. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a “72 minute effort” but that’s what we got tonight from Washington.

– Funny that the Caps come-back on the road would happen one day after the Sharks’ amazing comeback against the Kings last night. One of the reason’s I love hockey. However, the overtime periods weren’t terribly entertaining because the players for both teams looked gassed and seemed to be moving in slow motion.

– I have watched the replay of the Chimera goal numerous times and all I can say to myself is “what in the world is Gaborik doing?”

– Henrik Lundqvist reminded me of Halak too much tonight, especially in the 1st and 2nd period and the first overtime. It seemed like Washington was going to get nothing past him and then we crashed the net and look what happened. Still, a 49 save effort from King Henrik. Very impressive.

– John Carlson and Karl Alzner were on ice for all three of New York’s goals and didn’t look good on any of them. However, they also made a nice set-up on Johansson’s goal and Carlson made a perfect shot.

– Penalties killed us last game and we committed 7 penalties again tonight only this time we killed all of them off. It should be noted that five of the first seven came in the first two periods, which would explain the slow start.

– Michal Neuvirth looked shaky at times tonight but made a few big saves when he needed to. I thought the Anisimov goal was stoppable, though.

– Schultz and Green got a lot more starts in the defensive zone over Hannan, Alzner and Carlson. Not quite sure what’s up with that but those two have been playing great since being reunited.

– I’m frustrated that Brooks Laich has a pretty significant goal drought right now but seeing all of the work he does on the PK makes me forget all about how many goals he scores.

– Who sits when Knuble is back in because it looked like Chimera and Fehr played well together. Another predicament.

One game away from clinching the series and the players definitely deserve a rest after this performance. Here’s hoping they can build off of this win and finish off the Rangers next game. I have to think that a loss like this is demoralizing to New York but 3-1 series leads are never safe with this team.

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