I very rarely write pregame articles, but a few things happened today that are worth mentioning, especially since they serve as the overture to tonight’s feature film; Game Two between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. To briefly give my thoughts on Game One, all I can say is that the fault cannot be blamed on any one player. Should Staal have cleared the puck better in overtime that lead to the Semin goal? Yes. Could Lundqvist have stopped the slapshot that was from the high-slot area with no one in front? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, the Rangers scored one goal, and that is the reason why they lost. To go around nit-picking or trying to blame someone here and there is pointless.
The Rangers had a glorious opportunity to create scoring chances and up the pressure against a rookie goalie in his first playoff game. One would think they would have learned from the last time they played the Capitals in a playoff series, when they let then-rookie Semyon Varlamov beat them. They did not have many chances, and I don’t think Michael Neuvirth had to make more than one or two difficult stops. Yes, the Rangers worked hard and hung with the Capitals defensively, but let us remember that the Rangers actually scored more goals on the season than the Capitals. Though they do not have the names to intimidate, the Rangers should have scored more than one goal.
On to today, I was reading the New York Post this morning, and after about a week, I still do not know why New Jersey Devils’ writer Mark Everson is covering the Rangers’ playoff run. Not only is he a mediocre writer when covering his actual team, but he proves to be completely biased when covering the Rangers. He is just as qualified to cover them as I am to cover the Colorado Avalanche. He takes little jabs at the Blueshirts every chance he gets, and basically makes it up as he goes along. He holds true to the fact that Devils’ fans care more about the Rangers’ demise than their own team winning. The inferiority complex was in full effect when he wrote this, taken from this morning’s issue:
It was the Bolshoi dancer turning the physical tables on coach John Tortorella’s gulag workers, a pre-emptive strike that set the tone for the Caps’ dominance in Game 1. The fancier Caps kept up the early hitting on the visiting Rangers, the team supposed to be the bruisers.
(Please note: Everson, in trying to make himself sound intelligent, has referred to Alex Ovechkin as a “Bolshoi dancer” and the Rangers’ actual team as “gulag workers”. Somehow, I don’t think it worked.)
First of all, “Caps’ dominance”? Marky Marky Mark, did you even watch the game that remained scoreless until Matt Gilroy scored two minutes in to the third period? Exactly what dominance was there by the Washington Capitals who mustered up 33 shots in almost four periods of play, to win 2-1 in overtime? And in reference to the “fancier Caps”, again, I did not see any of this finesse for the entire game. The Rangers’ defense kept them to the outside and the only goal in regulation they scored was a meat-and-potatoes crease jam that sent the puck trickling over the goal line through about only six inches of open space that Lundqvist had between his legs. Mr Everson, you are an idiot. Stick to writing about the New Jersey team that no one gives two shits about. Case closed.
Now, finally, what would be a playoff series without John Tortorella and Larry Brooks going at it? You would think that after all these years, the two would have learned to co-exist, or at least Tortorella ignoring him or trying to find some way to deal with it. Brooks has been around forever, I get that. He deserves to be respected, but sometimes, in exchanges like this, I just shake my head. Brooks does try to goad Tortorella into giving answers he does not want to give. He pushes his buttons and sometimes he hits the right combination. This is all highly entertaining, but it is extremely unprofessional and does not need to be the elephant in the room during a very important playoff series. Below is the drama:
As for tonight’s game, once again, no predictions. Just try to relax and have some fun. Personally, I am not yet worried about being down in the series, because the Rangers did have a 3-1 lead on them two seasons ago, and we all remembered what happened then. Sean Avery will be back in the lineup tonight as well. What this will do, I have no idea. If a forward who scored three goals in 76 regular season games is going to be the savior, then the Rangers have bigger problems than they thought. Perhaps, it is because Neuvirth called Brandon Dubinsky the “new Avery”, because the two were jabbing at each other in Game One, and the Rangers want to give the goaltender a taste of the real Avery. Who knows? All we can hope for is a quarter of what his spark used to be like, and please, no stupid penalties.