Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thoughts on Caps@NYR Game 1

First playoff game I've been to since 2001 (Pens@Caps). The atmosphere was intense. Definitely a lot more fun than New Jersey in the regular season. That being said...

  • Alex Ovechkin either needs to play with Backstrom and Johansson, get his act together, or sit on the bench. He shouldn't be getting dominated by a line centered by Derek Stepan or Brad Richards. That being said, Dale Hunter should be trying to get Ovechkin away from the power-versus-power matchup that Tortorella likes to use. Plan for next season: make sure Ovechkin can handle those matchups competently by the playoffs so if it comes up on the road, Hunter needn't worry.
  • The Capitals had the better of play, easily, in the first forty and last ten. Those soft goals and mental lapses kill, though. Today was a wasted effort, like Game 6 versus Boston. Hopefully, the Capitals can overcome it again. If they play, on the whole, like they did today for the rest of the series, they'll win in five or six comfortably.
  • Holtby needs to find a way to "focus" or the Capitals will truly have a mountain to climb, down 0-2 heading back to Washington.
  • Alexander Semin and Ovechkin need to remember that the Rangers will dive to draw penalties and they don't have that reputation, either. No more of those marginal plays, please.
  • Marcus Johansson by the game is looking more and more like a Danny Briere-type--not great with possession, not big, but will come through in the postseason. Johansson hit the post at least once, and eventually he'll stop facing elite netminders and score a lot more.
  • Jay Beagle started the game with Ovechkin and Brouwer. Really, Hunter?
  • With the game winding down, it should be Carlson, not Wideman, out there with Green on defense. Aside from 08-09, Carlson's lowest 5v5 points/60 season rate is better than Wideman's best.
  • I love it when fans heckle me after their team (skaters, specifically), honestly, didn't deserve to win. Congratulations, guys. You, a 1-seed, won a home game against a 7-seed despite only getting 14 shots on goal and despite the other team hitting the post four times. I could make a habit out of going to road games in hostile arenas, if I could trust the Capitals to come forth with this effort every game. (I did shut up a group of fans, though, by telling them what I was doing in New York. Wasn't sure if they'd be impressed, but apparently they were.)
  • On the flip side, I'm sure John Tortorella will coax a better game out of his team on Monday.
  • If both teams are taking away shooting lanes, how about more of this? Arrive a little bit late. It's all about timing, and neither team really had it going (though the Caps I thought were much better, even if just while deflecting shots).
  • Is it time to give Knuble a look in the top-six?
I'm feeling a lot better about this series than I did yesterday. Nonetheless, I'm not sure how Boyle and Dubinsky can influence this series when they get back, so it's imperative the Caps take Game 2 and head back to DC having won home ice advantage and having some margin for error. This reinforces my belief that the Capitals are the better team right now, so they need to show it before the Rangers get back two of their hard-minutes (either by competition or zone start or both) forwards. That extra edge would, I imagine, push the Rangers over the top if they're already up 2-0. If it's 1-1, not necessarily.

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