The Rangers dropped a tough one to the Caps tonight by the score of 4-1. The Rangers actually played pretty well, controlling most of the action after a quick Washington start. They just ran into a hot goalie and some bad luck. Washington clinched the 7th seed in the East with the win, meaning the Rangers will take on the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Onto the bullets…
- The Caps struck quick with two goals in the first 2:18 of play. Alex Ovechkin wired a shot through a tough screen right off the draw for a 1-0 lead, and Matthew Perreault deflected a shot from the point past Lundqvist for a 2-0 lead.
- The two goals seemed to wake the Rangers up a little bit. They began to get more aggressive on the forecheck and creating some chances. Braden Holtby had to make several key saves and Ryan Callahan blasted one off the post on a shorthanded chance.
- The Rangers began to take control of the puck possession and were aggressively pressuring Washington in all areas of the ice. Things were starting to tilt towards the Rangers side of the ice.
- Brad Richards then proceeded to take a hooking penalty, which the Rangers successfully killed and generated Callahan’s aforementioned post. Just as the penalty to Richards had expired, Ryan McDonagh chipped the puck directly into the crowd for a delay of game penalty.
- On the ensuing power play, John Carlson ripped a shot from the point, which glanced off Derek Stepan, and past Hank for a 3-0 Washington lead.
- Honestly, aside from something of a rough start defensively, the Rangers actually didn’t play that poorly. They caught some bad breaks on deflections and screens.
- The second started off with some back and forth play, and I couldn’t help but think to myself how terrible Marc Staal looked tonight. He was making bad decisions with the puck and was seemingly caught in-between on decisions whether to pressure the puck or back off.
- The Rangers got bit again around the 6 minute mark when they gave up a 3-on-2 to the Caps and Nick Backstrom buried it to give Washington a 4-0 lead.
- The Rangers got some good chances on the power play after Jason Chimera took a penalty for slashing Brandon Prust. Braden Holtby continued to stand tall.
- After the conclusion of the power play, the Rangers had taken control of the play. Although in transition, the Caps nearly widened the lead when Hank had to make a big save on Nicklas Backstrom.
- The Rangers would get one back on a play where Brian Boyle gets rewarded for going to work behind the net. It was definitely a softy, which was surprising considering Holtby’s performance to that point.
- The Rangers dominated play for about 7 minutes after the PP, until the momentum swung back in Washington’s favor for the final few minutes.
- The Rangers continued to generate pretty good chances into the third period, and Braden Holtby continued to be solid.
- The Caps did a fantastic job of keeping the Rangers’ chances to the outside and clearing away any rebounds before they got to any Ranger sticks.
- About half way through the period, Brian Boyle got called for interference on a play that was clearly incidental contact. The Rangers, however, would generate quite a few quality scoring chances shorthanded. Carl Hagelin and Brandon Prust both broke through on Washington giveaways. They still couldn’t solve Holtby.
- The shorthanded chances were really the Rangers’ last chances to get back into this game. They basically limped their way to the final buzzer.
- Despite the ugly numbers, this was not a loss to blame on Hank. He didn’t face many shots (17) and surrendered four goals, but the only one he even saw was Backstrom’s, and that came from between the hash marks. He was clearly frustrated after this one, and you have to hope that gives him the requisite spark before the playoffs begin.
- The star of this game was Braden Holtby. He had plenty of support from the Cap’s defense with clearing rebounds and tying up players crashing to the net, but he managed the game extremely well. He didn’t allow a ton of rebounds, and the ones he did were directed to safe areas of the ice. His calm presence is something of a contrast from Michal Neuvirth, and I think he will fair just fine in the playoffs. He has something of a bad habit of oversliding the play, but he won’t bend to Boston pressure.
- The defense was actually the weakest part of the Ranger’s game tonight. They gave up too many odd-man rushes, and outside of the first pair, everyone else was very mediocre tonight.
- Nicklas Backstrom makes the Capitals a much more dangerous team. He looks like he is rounding into form from his concussion injury.
- Anyone think the Caps clinching 7th and drawing Ottawa in the first round is a blessing in disguise?
- Since the Canucks beat the Oilers tonight, the Rangers missed their chance at winning their first President’s Trophy since the 93-94 season. They will have home ice advantage throughout the Eastern Conference portion of the playoffs.
The schedule hasn’t been released for the playoffs yet, but we do know it will be either Wednesday or Thursday against Ottawa at MSG.