Off to the Big Apple for Game 6!

April 24, 2009 |

The NFL Draft hits center stage Saturday afternoon at Radio City Music Hall — it’s a intimate setting for the most part — despite the  J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! fans that will be begging their team to take an overrated quarterback like Mark Sanchez.

I love the Draft, enjoyed very much broadcasting from there with my old Sporting News Radio pals a couple of years ago.  However, if I was in NYC this weekend, I would only have one target location and that is the Mecca.

Madison Square Garden on Sunday afternoon will be rocking!  A nice spring Sunday afternoon spent indoors at the World’s Most Famous Arena, with the action absolutely on fire down on the cold ice.

It’s Game 6 of the Rangers and Capitals.  The NHL needed this, and NBC wanted this — so here you go.  The league’s brightest shining star in Alex Ovechkin and his guys that don’t get enough credit taking on a suddenly reeling Rangers team that was hit with a one-two uppercut  and never recovered on Friday night.

Stud goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was more then human.  The Rangers defense was defenseless at times, although it’s hard to get all over them for some of the goals that the BlueShirts allowed.  Sometimes, you just tip your cap to the brilliance of the opposition, and sometimes you say HUH?

The Rangers had a chance — ONE CHANCE — to win Game 5 on Friday night and it blew up in there face on a fluky (being kind) type of goal.  Matt Bradley had already opened the scoring with a back-breaking short handed goal at 4:58 of the first period.

The Rangers — still could get back in the game and  were aggressive on their penalty kill as they always are — when they shut down the Caps extra man unit with hardly a whimper — midway through the first period. 

The kill should have given the Rangers confidence, and maybe it did.  It didn’t last very long though, because Bradley then scored his 2nd goal of the period on a basic dump-and-chase by Brooks Laich.  Bradley chased it — and corralled it — just for a brief moment, before firing what he could have only hoped would be a juicy rebound.  Instead it was a goal, and it was a game-ending goal.

The Rangers had no chance at all.  They knew it, and so did the Caps.   They don’t have an offense that can overcome that.  Perhaps that will be the moment — if the Caps go on to win Game 6 and maybe the series that the tide turned.

People often say — you get the breaks you deserve.  The Caps have deserved a lot more then they have actually recieved.  That’s for sure.  They have outworked and outshot the Rangers all series long, but the Rangers have been smarter and perhaps stronger willed.

Friday night — for a change, it was more about talent then intangibles and if the Capitals can keep the momentum and “unleash the fury” on Sunday afternoon at the Garden, the Rangers could be in deep doo-doo.

Of course, that is a lot of ifs and maybes — but momentum is a funny thing.  On paper — this series should be 3-2 Caps if not over.  In theory, the Caps should be able to keep the fire burning on Sunday.  Will they? Or will they be stoned by King Henrik in his castle?

For me, I think the Caps will come up short — and not be able to roll into the Garden.  Why?  The Rangers penalty killing is still pretty darn good, their overall team defense is very good and Lundqvist should be able to bounce back as he did on Wednesday night.  He is not unbeatable, but he is difficult to beat when he gets the juices flowing and isn’t hit with a storm early on.

My brain tells me — the Rangers weather the Caps storm and survive by the skin of their teeth.  If not, Game 7 back at Verizon on Tuesday night — in what figures to be a  ridiculous atmosphere.