MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NY – After going almost a full week without playing, the Rangers came out rusty in the series opener against the Capitals. It was an ugly affair at the Garden last night for the Blueshirts. They could have lost that game by three or four goals. On the other hand, they could have won the game if Dan Boyle wasn’t in the lineup. He bore the lion’s share of the blame for both Capitals goals; the second of which came with just a second left in regulation.
It worries me that the Rangers didn’t have an answer to Ovechkin in game 1. Barry Trotz had Ovechkin double-shifting and Alain Vigneault didn’t adapt. After Boyle broke the cardinal rule for a defenseman ( don’t give up the middle of the ice!) for Ovechkin’s opener, Vigneault’s answer was to keep marching Boyle out against Ovechkin. Boyle had shown that he has neither the speed nor skill to keep up with OV. But AV kept sending him out thereand with 17 seconds left in the third period and the game knotted at 1-1, Boyle was back on the ice with Ovechkin for a neutral zone faceoff and the Rangers paid dearly.
The hit on Boyle in the corner was probably a penalty, but Boyle could have made a more positive play with the puck and the Rangers would not have been in that position. As it was after the hit, the puck was lost to Ovi who fed Ward in front for the simplest of finishes for the game winner.
The Rangers will have to bounce back Saturday afternoon. The forwards did show more life as Game 1 wore on and they started to create more scoring chances late on. It is encouraging that the Rangers played as bad a game as they did and only lost by a goal. I can’t think of anyone in a blue sweater that had a particularly good game. If the Rangers hadn’t been saved by the post a few times, the score could have been a lot worse. There is a long way to go in this series and there should be a big Game 2 response.
The forward lines will keep shifting as the Rangers try to cope with the absence of Mats Zuccarello. Alain Vigneault has shown an ability to adapt and I’m expecting a very different performance tomorrow. I think the forward lines looked better as the game progressed. The Blueshirts will need to be stronger on the puck in the defensive zone and will need more traffic in front of Holtby who was stellar in game 1. Screens and deflections are going to be the way to beat him. And the Rangers will definitely have to limit Dan Boyle’s exposure to Ovechkin. It is a good sign for the Rangers that the Capitals didn’t have much going forward other than the Ovechkin line. Tune in tomorrow. It should be a good one.
Don’t look now but the Amazin’s have lost five of their last seven. They’re still in first place by a good margin as the only team in the NL East above .500. The Yankees are in first place also. Who woulda thunk it?
Dortmund wins the Derby tomorrow, Mayweather wins a decision tomorrow night and Junoir Blaber wins the right to post here tomorrow.