Fri 3 May 2013
The optimistic glass-is-half-full Rangers fan looks at the team’s Game loss as extension of the cliché that hockey is a game of inches. An inch here and inch there and Carl Hagelin tallies a hat trick and john Moore’s goal that wasn’t a goal turns out to be the game-winner.
The pessimistic glass-is-half-empty Rangers fan realizes that the team’s fortunes were doomed as a result of their inept five-on-three power play that paved the way to the Capitals victory.
Stepping back and looking at the big picture, the pessimistic Rangers fan, which is kind of redundant, wins the Game 1 debate because Capitals fans can bemoan the same lament of opportunities that were “just missed” chances. However, there is no arguing that the Rangers inability on their power play proved to be a momentum/game changer – a belief that both sides signed off on.
“Anytime you kill a five-on-three, especially in playoffs, the momentum goes the other way, for sure,” Jason Chimera told Stephen Whyno of The Washington Times. “If they get a goal, they’re feeling it. If we get a kill, obviously the crowd gets into it or we get into it. Everyone’s pumped up. It’s a good way to create momentum for us.”
It is one thing for a team not to score on their power play, but it is another thing for that power play to be so incompetent that the momentum shifts as a result
“That’s what the playoffs is about: Momentum swings and trying not to get hurt when you lose the momentum,” Ryan Callahan explained to Mark Giannotto of The Washington Post. “I thought tonight we got hurt when we lost it.”
Most fans are conditioned to see momentum as something that is carried over from game to game. While that might be the case in some instances, more often than not, the idea of momentum and momentum shifts are confined within the framework of a game.
Teams that are able to stem the tides of momentum shifts are the teams that win in the playoffs – especially when you have two evenly matched teams. Contrary to what might be written, only one point separated the Southeast Division champion Capitals and the sixth seed Rangers.
The difference in Game 1 was that the Blueshirts not only didn’t seize the momentum of the game during their two-man advantage, they served up to the Caps on a silver platter in a 46-second stretch that proved to be the margin of victory.
In terms of goals against, the Rangers were pretty consistent (34-38-36). However, it seems like that whenever the Rangers lose it turns out that their play in the second period proves to be their undoing. I don’t know that as a fact, but it sure feels that way to me.
Prior to the third period, assistant coach Michael Sullivan told MSG’s John Giannone, “We actually played a pretty good second period.” Putting aside “coach speak”, there is no way you turn a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 deficit and say you played a pretty good period. I would hate to see what a bad period would look like.
The key thing for the Rangers is to focus on what they did right in and make sure they correct what they did wrong in Game 1. The Blueshirts main objective is to gain a split of the first two games at the Verizon Center. While it is always better to win that first game because it sets you up for the possibility of returning home up two games to none, a win on Saturday afternoon will go a long way to help erase the memory of Game 1.
Here are some random Ramblings on Game 1:
• If the officials are going to hunt for calls to make like they did on Jay beagle in the first period and Aron Asham in the second period (the one that the Caps scored on), then the NHL might as well save everyone’s time and advance the Capitals to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. While the Rangers did not the five-on-five “mini-game”, they are not going to win a battle of power plays.
• With that said, the Blueshirts looked very confident killing penalties when they were in aggressive mode and put pressure on the Capitals – it even led to a Hagelin shorthanded breakaway. By the way, Hagelin was, by far, the best Ranger on the ice last night.
• On the downside in the special teams battle, the Rangers need to find a way to win faceoffs because they were horrible last night. It showed how much they miss Brian Boyle and his 56% faceoff record.
• If my wife Roe has her way, that guy who blows that horn at the Verizon Center will be blowing out of another orifice if she ever sees him – and I believe her!
• While Steve Oleksy made a gorgeous pass to Marcus Johansson on the eventual game winning goal, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi have to do a better job of communicating so they don’t let any forward sneak behind them.
• Speaking of Oleksy, the rangers have to capitalize (pun not intended) when Adam Oates sends out Oleksy and Jack Hillen. John Tortorella has to use the last change advantage at the Garden to the fullest against that pairing.
• On the rare times that Rangers forwards do meander in front of the net to screen Braden Holtby (especially on the power play); they need to stop facing the point because they are in no position to bang home any rebounds. There was one point in the second period where Callahan was in front and was facing the point as he jumped as a shot was put towards goal. It was nice that he was in front, but since he was in the air and facing away from the goal he was in no position to pounce on a potential rebound. Then again, that would require the rangers to hit the net with their shots.
• I forgot where I read it online, but some writer mentioned that Holtby is weak on wraparounds. Granted Hagelin’s goal did bang in off John Erskine’s skate, the Blueshirts might want to treat Holtby like Martin Brodeur – work the puck from behind the net and direct as many pucks on net as possible – bad angle shots included.
• Case in point: John Moore’s goal. I know it was a goal, you know it was a goal; even Holtby knows it was a goal even though he said he had the puck in his blocker hand. The bottom line is that the officials and the league office in Toronto got the call right. You could not tell “exactly” where the puck was. You have to wonder if there is a way for the NHL to put tiny camera on the underside of the cross bar or something that would give a real close view of the puck in those type of situations.
• I love Henrik Lundqvist as much as the next Rangers fan, but he can’t afford to give up weak goals like he did on Chimera. It wasn’t the reason the Rangers lost, but it sure made that hill to climb a lot steeper than it needed to be.
• Rangers entered the game with an 18-2-1 record when scoring the first goal and a 13-0-1 record when leading after the first period. So much for statistics. Hopefully another statistic will bite the dust – this one courtesy of Larry Brooks of the NY Post. Brooks wrote that the Rangers have not won a playoff series after losing the first game since their Second Round win over the New Jersey Devils in 1997. Of course, that state is a bit misleading because the Rangers weren’t even in the playoffs for a lot of those years. However, they have lost the last four series since the lockout where they have dropped Game 1.
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