By Brian Monzo
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NEW YORK (WFAN) — One bad two-minute span in the second period on Friday night cost the Rangers Game 2, and they now find themselves down big in this best-of-seven series.
The Rangers owned the first and third periods, but their inability to create real scoring chances, which now has everyone thinking Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth is better that he actually is, has put them in a tough hole.
The Caps came out flying in the second period, and after Brooks Laich leaned into Matt Gilroy (elbowing him as well), Jason Chimera one-timed a shot past Henrik Lundqvist. One minute later, rookie Ryan McDonagh took a roughing call in front of the net, and a tricky deflection gave Jason Arnott a lay-up.
Game, set, match and maybe the series.
We could sit here and dwell on everything the Rangers did wrong Friday night, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll tell you what they have to do to win Game 3 at MSG on Sunday afternoon to get back into this series.
First off, as well as Sean Avery played Friday night (and he played damn well), he cannot be called offsides four times. He played his tail off, and didn’t take any penalties, but he has to wake up and do the simple things. That many offsides in one game by one player is unheard of.
Second, Bryan McCabe needs to take responsibility on the power play. This is what he was brought in at the trade deadline to do. The Rangers have scored just once in their last 31 opportunities, which is hideous. He needs to find a way to set things up and get pucks on net.
Third, I know everyone is killing Marian Gaborik, but the fact is he needs room to play. He isn’t Sid or Ovie. They are masters at creating their own spaces. Coach John Tortorella needs to find a line that gives Gabby some space and better chances to score. Maybe a line of Avery-Dubinsky-Gaborik would do the trick.
Finally, Tortorella needs to take a page from the late Herb Brooks and force the Rangers to not sit back, but attack the Capitals. They come at opponents hard, but the Rangers have — at times — come at the Caps harder. Any time a Capital touches the puck, someone needs to put a body on him. This will be intimidating and create turnovers. This sluggish, sit-back style of hockey may have worked 44 times in the regular season, but it is now 0-for-2 in the playoffs and and has manufactured just one goal. If the Rangers don’t ratchet up the intensity and do it over 60 minutes, Game 4 will be their last game.
With the next two games at MSG, the Rangers have to find ways to score. They will certainly have the crowd on their side. It is up to them to come out and with a purpose and sustain it for as long as it takes. If not, the Caps will be busting out the brooms.
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