After last night’s 2-1 overtime victory at the Verizon Center in a game in which they dominated most of the play, the Washington Capitals have to feel pretty good about themselves and their ability to succeed in low scoring games in the post season. The Caps played solid defense and for the most part didn’t give the Rangers many opportunities to score.
But that game is history now and you can bet your bottom dollar that New York Coach John Tortorella will make some adjustments for game two. The Rangers didn’t generate a lot of offense and Greg Schimmel of The Washington Post is reporting that the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion bench boss had Erik Christensen playing on the Blueshirts top line flanked by Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik in practice on Thursday. If true, this is essentially an “All Offensive Eggs in One Basket” move by New York. All three of those guys have a decent history against the Caps and those of you who read my series preview know that not giving #20 and #10 time and space was a key determinant of success in this series for Washington.
The Caps defensemen did a very good job of keeping Rangers forwards away from goalie Michal Neuvirth. #30 didn’t allow many rebounds and was able to see almost all of the shots he faced. In nearly four periods of play there were only 25 total New York shots on net, so Tortorella can’t be happy at all with that. Thus, I expect that super pest Sean Avery may just get a sweater on Friday night to try and agitate the Capitals and their young goalie. The key for Washington will be to not get caught into his crazy antics and take stupid penalties. Avery has been benched recently for a reason, and he has a tendency to hurt his team when he gets carried away, but if he manages to get his head screwed on straight for 60 minutes he can be a very effective player. I say New York rolls the dice and #16 is in on Friday.
Washington managed to get a win on Wednesday night in a game where Henrik Lundqvist nearly stole one for the Rangers. There is no doubt that New York will be loaded for bear on Friday night. As I said on On Frozen Blog TV after Wednesday night’s game, the Rangers are a team that never quits, they are a resilient bunch. The Caps will once again be tested on their mental strength and their ability to stick with their system and play it one shift at a time. There is no other way for them to win this series. They need to be focused and remain committed to what Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau is selling.
Game starts at 7:30 pm on Comcast Sports Net.