‘Rangers Inside And Out’
By Sean Hartnett
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The Washington Capitals did not dominate Game 1 by any means. When you give a team as many opportunities as the Rangers gave Washington on Thursday night and do not take advantage of your own, you’re surely going to lose.
UGLY TRENDS CANNOT CONTINUE
It was more the case of the Rangers shooting themselves in the foot, rather than the Capitals overwhelming them. A broken power play, too much time spent in the penalty box and a bizarre off-night from elite netminder Henrik Lundqvist. These trends can’t continue if the Blueshirts wish to march into the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Rangers outshot the Caps, 36-30, delivered nine more hits and forced Washington into more giveaways. Usually, these kind of advantages result in victories. All you have to do is study the Rangers’ inability to convert on a 53-second 5-on-3 power play.
There’s plenty of time between Thursday night’s defeat and Game 2 on Saturday afternoon for John Tortorella to work the kinks out.
Tortorella’s men came out flat in the first period and the Capitals took advantage by controlling offensive zone time. The Capitals registered 14 first-period shots and at one point outshot the Rangers, 11-1. Yet Carl Hagelin was able to secure a 1-0 lead for the Blueshirts through his wraparound goal late in the opening period.
It could have been worse than the 3-1 final scoreline had the Rangers penalty kill not been in fine form.
“Against a power play like that, if you’re killing that much, eventually they’re going to capitalize,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said after the Game 1 defeat. “They’ve got enough talent out there to do that, and we’ve just got to stay out of the box.”
The Capitals led all NHL teams with a regular-season power-play percentage of 26.8 percent, and New York successfully killed four of five Washington power plays.
“We can’t take that many penalties in the game,” Tortorella stated in his postgame press conference. “They did get a good bounce off the boards. You can’t take two in a row. Hopefully, we’ll discipline ourselves next game.”
TORTORELLA IS THE MASTER OF SELF-CORRECTION
Tortorella is often labeled by many as a seething coach who is always on the precipice of boiling over, but he’s also very methodical in his approach. After Thursday’s practice, he accused the media of not understanding his reasoning for constant in-game adjustments.
“You guys think it’s just changing lines for the sake of changing lines and I’m an idiot,” Tortorella said. “But I think it’s important in certain situations if you need to change something with the momentum of your team.”
Some might see this as a case of Tortorella bullying the media; it’s also an example of Tortorella’s obsession with details.
The anti-Tortorella brigade grew in numbers during a slumping regular season, calling for his head. At the precise moment when the pressure was turned on the highest, Tortorella righted the Rangers’ ship and ensured their entry into the playoffs.
Rangers fans should put their faith into Tortorella. He’ll make the necessary corrections and make sure that the Blueshirts cut down their mistakes and capitalize on their chances in Game 2.
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