April 23, 2009

Capitals Vs Rangers 04/22/2009 EC Quarterfinal Game 4 Review

Capitals players watch final minute of Game 4 from bench April 22, 2009.
Photo by Julie Jacobson / AP Photo.

Capitals 1 - Rangers 2

After seeming to have learned some important lessons in the first two games in round one of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Washington Capitals appeared to have lost their notes before last night's disappointing loss to the New York Rangers in Game 4.

If you watched the game, you know that both of New York's goals came with the help of a few incredibly lucky bounces. The game winner, scored by the essentially one handed (injured) Chris Drury, came about when Caps' netminder Simeon Varlamov had trouble closing his glove on the puck and eventually dropped it (Would have been a good time for one of those quick whistles, ref!). The puck bounced to Drury, who got another fortunate bounce off of Varlamov, on a shot from an almost impossible angle. The game could have turned out very differently if some of those pipe ringing shots by Washington had been the teensiest bit more accurate, or gotten some of those lucky bounces. However, leaving the what ifs behind and concentrating on the controllable things the Caps did and didn't do, shows where they went wrong.

They didn't win nearly as many of the faceoffs as they had been (Caps 33% - Rangers 67%). Some of them didn't refrain from using too many cutesy little moves instead of keeping it simple as in the previous game, which they won. Washington finally started putting a lot of traffic in front of Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist during that win, but there was almost never more than one guy anywhere near the opponent's net in last night's contest. They had a couple less giveaways (Caps 5 - Rangers 7) than New York , but they also had fewer takeaways (Caps 8 - Rangers 12).

Perhaps one of the biggest questions fans are asking is ... "What the hell is wrong with Mike Green ?". He had two assists in Game 1, but has faded into the background since then. He was on the ice for 29:52 last night, more than any other Washington Capital, but only managed two hits. Green just isn't playing like he did for most of the regular season, a level of play which earned him a spot as finalist for the Norris Memorial Trophy as the league's top defenseman.

Lundqvist has been goaltending as well as he ever has, and that's freakin' great. But if Washington keeps firing tons of shots at him, some more are going to start to go in. They've got to keep the pressure on him as much as possible. To do that, they'll have to get through New York's defense, which has been great, but not unbeatable.

With the loss, the Capitals find themselves in the same spot they were in last year, down three games to one. If they were able to force a Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers in that series, surely they can do the same against the inferior New York Rangers in this one. They will have to win three straight to make it to the next round. To do that, they are going to have to get much more physical and start converting on their scoring chances. Alex Ovechkin scored the Caps only goal in this game, his first of this series, and that's a very good sign. He'll likely get on a hot streak now, but he's going to need some help.

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