Game Recap: Rangers/Caps. Caps win 3-2 (S/O)
So close, yet so not close at all.
Best view in the world. (Courtesy of me.)
Full disclosure: last night was an extra special game for me because I was there, man. Yup— my first ever Rangers game at the Garden. I’m from the west coast, so my relationship with the Rangers has always been a long distance affair. Unsurprisingly, the experience of being at MSG and watching the dudes do their thing live was exponentially better than watching on television (more on that at the end of this post).
I mean aside from the fact that the Rangers lost.
Going into this contest, the Rangers were the number nine seed in the east, while the Caps were snugly nestled in the number 11 spot. It’s always hard to predict how a bottom-of-the-barrel match up like this will unfold— will each team play their hardest, hoping to fan the tiny flame of self respect to which they so desperately cling, much to the relief of their loyal fans? Or will spectators instead find themselves watching no one‘s favorite three-act play, “Hockey: It Shouldn’t Look Like This” ? Well folks, last night it was a little of both.
Things begin predictably for the Rangers, which means lots of poorly-timed passing and feeble attempts at breaking out of the neutral zone. Marian Gaborik shows he has good ideas, but his attack comes to a halt the minute anyone gives him a mean look or even breathes in his direction. He is as delicate as a blush-colored cherry blossom in springtime. Although Ryan Callahan can’t quite seem to find his rhythm, he’s still working hard to move the puck into the zone. So there’s that.
Anton Straalman gets nabbed for a dubious holding penalty about eight minutes in, which is immediate cause for concern because the Caps somehow have the best power play in the league. Nicklas Backstrom promptly demonstrates why as he goes to the net and farts one in, despite the fact that Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh are standing DIRECTLY NEXT TO AND IN FRONT OF HIM in the crease. Embarrassing. From my seat I have an excellent view of the ‘are you fucking kidding me?’ look that Henrik Lundqvist throws at his defense.
Please let this be a dream.
After another failed cross-ice pass from the Rangers, the Caps regain possession and begin a cheerful romp through our defensive zone. They are like grizzly bears cavorting by the roadside, while the Rangers are pasty, shorts-and-socks wearing tourists who are happy to stand back and just watch the magic happen. Ovechkin tips it in while we’re busy reloading the film in our cameras. He is the fastest of all the grizzlies, if not the most attractive. We can’t wait to show these pictures to our grandchildren. 2-0 Caps.
Wasn’t there a sign about not feeding the bears?
But just when you think all hope is lost, Arron Asham is suddenly flying up the left wing, flanked by recent minor league call-up Chris Newbury. No one in the building expects anything to come of this, including Braden Holtby. But before I can finish the next sip of my drink, Asham has buried the puck in the net and suddenly it’s 2-1. Huh? We are back in the game, courtesy of the player I regularly refer to as ‘the guy I can’t believe we paid actual American money for’. I’m a jerk. Fantastic work, Arron.
Way to prove a blogger wrong, dude.
Late in the first, the hockey gods decide to part the clouds and shine a heavenly beam of light onto MSG, giving the Rangers a two-man advantage as Chimera and Alzner get sent to the box in rapid succession. I turn to the friend next to me, who has never been to a hockey game before, and say “This should be a good thing but it probably won’t”. Derek Stepan has had enough of my lip, and decides to prove me wrong by sniping one in from a terrible angle, off a feed from Brad Richards. My eyes get larger and my mouth gets smaller. The game is tied at two apiece.
Don’t act like you knew this would happen.
Hot damn- are things about to get interesting? (answer to follow shortly)
2nd and 3rd periods
Answer to the above question: not really, no. I won’t bother recapping the second and third separately or in any kind of depth because not much happened. It wasn’t boring hockey, but it wasn’t eventful hockey either. During the latter periods, I spent much of my time scanning the luxury suites for Marc Staal. He’s feeling better, you guys! And Jordan and Eric have started wearing visors! My seat was directly below the suites, and therefore shared the same luxurious, classy hallway. If you think I didn’t take an extra long time going to and from the bathroom, hoping I’d run into someone famous, you are GROSSLY MISTAKEN, my friend.
Michael Del Zotto really impressed me last night, especially during the second and third periods when he was the only Ranger who was playing angry. Why wasn’t anyone else playing angry? DZ may not have done anything to land himself in the highlight reel, but his head was clearly in the right place. Coach Tortorella must have taken notice because 4 logged more minutes than any other player last night aside from Hank, with a grand total of 26:24. Well earned.
Why can’t your brothers play more like you, Mikey?
Ribeiro, Perreault, and Johansson were the three Caps names cursed most frequently by Rangers fans during periods two and three. For some reason we were letting these guys run all over the place— we gave them all the time and space they could have ever hoped for. Ribeiro forced Hank to make two of his best saves of the night (one in the second and another in the third). And late in the third, Perreault managed to throw himself right on top of our beloved Henrik, prompting the guy behind me to scream, “I TOLD YOU we should have punched Perreault earlier! He has a FRENCH NAME, come on!” Did I mention that Rangers fans are awesome?
We will straight up cheer your faces off.
By the way, Mike Green was back in the Caps lineup and seemed to be trying to make an impact on both offense and defense. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Despite the Caps best efforts, and thanks to the fact that the Rangers didn’t simply keel over and die, regulation ends with the score still tied 2-2.
(in which the Rangers play with a moderate amount of intensity and Ovechkin fires a shot that causes me to clench my fists and utter curse words)
Rick Nash’s crazy long reach finally failed him during the shoot out, much to the chagrin of Rangers fans everywhere. Ovi scored, which always sucks. For a minute it looked like it was lights out for the Broadway Blueshirts, but then Derek Stepan, without a doubt this season’s unsung hero, dangled and scored on the bland and listless Braden Holtby. Which brings us to…
Nicklas Backstrom. The man who started things off with a fart. It all comes down to this single Swede-on-Swede shoot out attempt. Who will return to the Royal Kingdom wearing the glorious mantle of victory? Hank trains his flawless, steely eyes upon the advancing enemy. Backstrom brushes his perpetually grimy hair from his cherubic face, and approaches with speed. Forehand. Backhand. Forehand. He shoots! And…
Shit. Game over. Rangers lose.
Hank slams his stick against the glass before storming through the door and off the ice. I have not seen him look this angry before. It was a little frightening, but also awesome because I was seeing it live.
Rangers fans, I don’t know what to say about our playoff hopes this season. Our team…well, our team does lots of amazing charity work and wears the sharpest, most well-tailored suits in the NHL, hands down. That’s something, right?
What do you mean they don’t give points for wearing the crap out of a suit and tie?
But despite our murky short-term future, there is one thing I do know, now more than ever: Rangers fans are awesome. Spending the evening at the Garden was a dream come true for me, a dream that was even better than I expected thanks to people like the beefy guy two rows in front of me, who started the Let’s Go Rangers chant in the middle of the national anthem. The tween girl next to me, wearing a Jagr jersey and poring over the stat printout provided for members of the media, and who gave me an adorable, shy high-five after Stepan scored in the shoot out. The grandpa watching the game from the comfort of his motorized scooter, shouting at Gaborik to stop playing scared. And my lovely friend Sophia, who as I said had never been to a hockey game before, but who left a fan. You guys made my night, and you are what makes this team special.
Cheers, and thanks for reading.