The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
Well, we’re off and running in the 2011 Stanley Cup tournament, the Washington Capitals breaking out on top of the New York Rangers with a 2-1 overtime win on Wednesday when Sasha Prime scored ugly and Sasha Minor scored pretty in the first extra session to overcome a goal by Matt Gilroy and 31 saves from Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Now it is a matter of adding a few shovelfuls of dirt on the Rangers to bury them under a 2-0 series deficit. And then…
“Ya know, cuz, the Caps aren’t exactly worl’ beaters when they win a Game 1.”
“The Caps…winning Game 1 ain’t such a big thing here, cuz?”
Is that so?
“Yeah, I looked it up. When the Caps win Game 1 in a seven-game series…”
1984, second round: Caps 3 – Islanders 2… lost the series 4-1
1987, first round: Caps 4 – Islanders 3… lost the series, 4-3
1988, second round: Caps 3 – Devils 1… lost the series, 4-3
1989, first round: Caps 3 – Flyers 2… lost the series, 4-2
1990, first round: Caps 5 – Devils 4… Caps won the series, 4-2
1991, second round: Caps 4 – Penguins 2… lost the series, 4-1
1992, first round: Caps 3 – Penguins 1… lost the series, 4-3
1993, first round: Caps 3 – Islanders 1… lost the series 4-2
1994, first round: Caps 5 – Penguins 3… Caps won the series, 4-2
1995, first round: Caps 5 – Penguins 4… lost the series, 4-3
1996, first round: Caps 6 – Penguins 4… lost the series, 4-2
1998, first round: Caps 3 – Bruins 1… Caps won the series, 4-2
1998, second round: Caps 4 – Senators 2…Caps won the series, 4-1
2001, first round: Caps 1 – Penguins 0… lost the series, 4-2
2003, first round: Caps 3 – Lightning 0… lost the series 4-2
2008, first round: Caps 5 – Flyers 4… lost the series, 4-3
2009, second round: Caps 3 – Penguins 2… lost the series, 4-3
Well, gee, Cheerless…aren’t YOU living up to your name this morning?
“Just tellin’ it like it is, cuz. You know how Caps fans are… we only see the poop, not the puppy.”
Well, Cheerless, you know what today is, don’t you?
Well, actually it would be tomorrow, April 16th, but since tomorrow is Saturday, we celebrate it today.
“You got a point or just fishin’ cuz?”
The date on which President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, freeing slaves in the District of Columbia.
“And this has to do with hockey...how?”
It’s the chance for us Caps fans to free ourselves of this negative thinking, cousin.
“Uh-huh…how long you been a Caps fan, cuz?”
Well, the Caps can go a long way to sponging away the trepidation their fans bring to this time of year when they take the ice against the New York Rangers tonight. In Game 1, the Caps out shot (33-25), out-attempted (80-65), out-hit (35-30), out-shot blocked (32-28), and out-face-off’ed (43-37) the Rangers in a 2-1 overtime win on Wednesday. If not for a couple of unfortunate ricochets off the crossbar, the game might have been settled earlier than the 11 o’clock hour (10:51, actually).
Now the object is to do it again.
With only one game in the books, this series doesn’t have much of a personality just yet, but one might look at a game played so close and so close to the vest and wonder what might change in Game 2. Most of those changes, as you might expect, might have to come from the visitors…
-- "25" The Rangers managed only 25 shots on a goalie playing in his first NHL playoff game. They had more shots blocked (32) than they had on net. The Rangers have to make Michal Neuvirth work more. The Caps have done a fine job so far in limiting those opportunities.
-- "0" Chris Drury is coming back from an injury, and he is for the moment pretty much limited to fourth line duty. But the Rangers really don’t have so many offensive options that they can afford to have him go almost 64 minutes with no shot attempts, as he did on Wednesday.
-- "35" Part of Brandon Dubinsky’s game is doing a lot of the little things effectively. He has to do better than 35 percent on draws (7-for-20 on Wednesday).
-- "16" Does Sean Avery get to don his “16” sweater for this game? That’s the two-edged sword. He could give the Rangers some bite in their lineup, but his antics could bit them in the ass, too.
-- "1" The Rangers had one shot on two power plays in Game 1. Keep that up, and they’ll have to do all their scoring at even strength.
-- "5" Henrik Lundqvist might have allowed only two goals on 33 shots in Game 1, but he can thank his stars for two missed shots – two that hit the crossbar less than 20 seconds apart – for not getting behind early. Part of his problem, if it is one, is that he seemed tethered to no more than five feet from his goal line. His style is a bit unconventional (half butterfly, half old-school), and he tends to play deep anyway. But the Caps had a lot of great opportunities – the two crossbars, a couple of open net looks on cross-ice feeds – that he might have had trouble with playing as deep as he does.
As for the Caps, the biggest takeaway from Game 1, and the thing to watch for in Game 2, is the fact that they did not get frustrated in Game 1 over a scoreless game through more than 40 minutes, nor did they get frustrated when the Rangers got the game’s first goal in the third period. How they played suggested that the makeover to a defensively responsible style was not a regular season thing, only. The Caps trusted their system, plugged away, and ground out a win.
Perhaps they were emancipated from any lingering doubts about whether this works.
Maybe it’s time to emancipate the Rangers of any further hope of winning this series by taking their game and shoving it right back in their faces.
“Cuz, maybe you should be emancipated from ever using the word ‘emancipated’ anymore.”
Don't you have some puppy poop to clean up?
Caps 3 – Rangers 1