Rangers-Capitals Game 5 Recap (We’re going to the second round!)

Could we pick any better way to close out this series? Playing at home hasn’t been an advantage to most teams in this year’s playoffs but the Capitals played about as good of a home game as any team could to close out the series. They came out strong, forechecked hard and pinned the Rangers into their own zone early. Not only that but they capitalized on an early powerplay attempt to jump on top 1-0 and then it was no looking back from there. The Caps dominated the pace of play from then on and didn’t allow the Rangers to get any momentum until the last few minutes. After what happened last year when we were leading a series 3-1, today’s game was very refreshing to see.

The Caps will get a few days rest before moving on to round 2 where they will face an unknown opponent but a rest could be what they need with some of the injuries that happened today. For now, let’s enjoy this win and us advancing and give props to the Rangers for hanging tough through most of the series. They have a good young team who we could see again in the playoffs in the future.

Notes/Observations:

– “Your best players have to play like your best players” is what Jason Chimera said after game 4 and that’s what we got today. Mike Green, Alex Semin and Alexander Ovechkin all with goals today and the latter showed some of his vintage self with his marker. Great performance all around by all three (I’ll mention Green’s injury in later) and they definitely were at their best today. It’s especially good to see Semin stepping up in the playoffs after years of inconsistency.

– Mike Green had to leave the game after taking a Matt Gilroy shot to the head. This is his third head injury in the last few months so it was wise for the Caps training staff to not let him back into the game for safety reasons. Yes, we need him but it’s better not to risk his health in that situation. He was on the bench, though so that’s a good sign at least. Even more of a good sign is that Dennis Wideman could be back for round 2.

– This is going to turn into a big rivalry soon. All of the post-goal scrums and chippy play between whistles really indicated that. There’s a lot of growing hatred between some players on these two teams. It helps when one team has a super-pest in Sean Avery. I didn’t like that cheap shot Dan Girardi threw at Brooks Laich, nor some of the things Brandon Dubinsky did between plays. Still, those things come with the territory in a rivalry.

– John Erskine had his best playoff game so far tonight. He had a lot of defensive zone starts but still managed three shots on goal, three blocked shots and a positive Corsi and Fenwick rating. Good that he had a game like this with Green missing a lot of time.

– I mentioned how Karl Alzner and John Carlson were struggling the last two games but these two were outstanding today. Kept Gaborik, Dubinsky and Fedotenko off the scoresheet completely tonight and Carlson’s Corsi ended with a Corsi rating of 12.

– Brooks Laich was placed at the RW spot on the top line in place of Mike Knuble instead of Chimera. Had 2 secondary assists but he did his best work on the penalty kill, in my opinion.

– Marcus Johansson could be a big factor in later rounds if he keeps improving with every game like he’s been doing so far. He is showing some great speed (watch him and Chimera’s 2-0n-1 chance) and playmaking skills (see Semin’s goal) and I hope we can see more of that on a consistent level as time goes on.

– Neuvirth came up huge late in the game to keep the Rangers from coming back in the game and I think he’s going to start from here on out assuming a disaster doesn’t happen. He has been simply terrific so far and a huge factor in us winning this series.

– The “We Are Louder” chants got old fast. My favorite thing about those “Can You Hear Us” chants at MSG were when we put an end to them with the game-tying and winning goals on Wednesday and Rangers fans probably wanted the same thing to happen with us. Hey, I will take a five-game series win over having a louder building. Just like I’d rather have a coach who bad-mouths an arena to rile fans up rather than a coach who yells at an official and takes a bench minor penalty.

– Speaking of penalties, only two penalties taken and we killed off both of them. Scored on one powerplay, as well. Nicely done, gentlemen.

– Henrik Lundqvist is a goalie  I have a ton of respect for an enjoy watching a lot. Which is why I think it’s a pity that he hasn’t won a cup yet but once the Rangers get more of an offense in front of him, maybe that will happen. They have four solid defensemen in front of him but I can’t imagine how scarier the Rangers would be if they had more.

It feels really good to win a series early, doesn’t it? Nothing to do but celebrate and wait to see who our next opponent is. These playoffs have been amazing so far and I hope they don’t let up one bit.

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