The Weight Of Expectation

Game Four of the New York Rangers’ series with the Washington Capitals promised to be something better than the previous, if only because you figured the blueshirts would come out with more push.  

It seemed in the first period of the game that the Rangers were ready to play, they were aggressive and flying all over the ice.  The only thing that I noticed however was that Washington was that they were putting good shots on net and making Lundqvist work, I didn’t think the Rangers made Holtby work as much.  Sure he made saves but they didn’t seem to be big saves in the first period.  

After the Rangers took the lead in the second, they let themselves go completely.  A mental breakdown that caused two turnovers leading to two Caps goals.  After the light switch flipped off they suddenly had to turn it back on and it almost happened but Holtby made a great save on Hagelin’s penalty shot attempt.  

The Rangers tried to dump shots on net but they were what I’ve termed typical Ranger playoff shots: wide, blocked, high or weak.  Or they just try to be so cute that the passes get intercepted so easily and turned away.  

I don’t know if it’s over yet, I’m on the fence, yes I know they are down 3-1. Coach Vigneault wouldn’t come out and say he was surprised that they were down 3-1 which surprised me.  In the press conference he kinda looked like a beaten man, who knows that he can only do so much to get goals out of a team.  Only one defenseman has a point in the series, so much for that Keith Yandle trade but again I guess that comes back to the expectations that this team is living under.  Not only are they sitting under the 3-1 rock but there’s a giant stone that says “hey you were the Presidents’ Trophy winners.  Oh and we expect you to win the East.  Plus there’s all these fans in New York.  The New York media.” 

 Look at all that expectation.  But I guess that’s what professional athletes deal with only its amped up even more for any team in New York, cause it’s the bright lights of Broadway baby and the city carries with it its own weight of expectation.

Capital Punishment

I seriously am getting tired of being the one to say it but Alex Ovechkin is turning into that guy that can lead his team to a Stanley Cup.  I’m certain that you know he’s won a multitude of personal awards when it comes to scoring and points but it’s that giant silver Cup that has always eluded him.  After watching him and the Washington Caps in Game Three of their series against the NY Rangers I have to believe that they have a chance to make some major advances toward that chalice.  

To be completely fair I am a Rangers fan, so I’m a bit biased but it’s hard not to give credit to Washington after their 1-0 win.  They pounded the Rangers on the boards.  Yes the Rangers are a faster team but if you can’t use your speed and are forced to play someone else’s game you will struggle, and struggle the Rangers did.

It’s said that to win in the playoffs you need to score goals, have good goaltending and get the lucky bounce, right now the Rangers are only getting one of three.  Lundqvist is giving them a chance and bailing them out of as many situations as he can but they got to stop making terrible turnovers.  Keith Yandle was supposed to help the power play, it doesn’t seem like he’s done that in the playoffs, this power play was terrible tonight.  In fact Yandle made a terrible turnover behind the Rangers’ net that almost led to a Caps goal if not for the work of Lundqvist to keep out the shot.

Dan Boyle has played well this year but in Game One of the series he gave the puck away in the dying moments of the game that led to Joel Ward’s game winning goal to suck the air out of the Garden.  He has been less than stellar for sure in this series.  Rick Nash’s magnificent season seems to be overshadowed by the fact that I can’t find him on the ice.  Inconsistency is killing this team, turnovers are killing this team, being unable to convert on the power play is killing the team, hell its so bad that Jasper Fast started on the wing in Game Three.  What is a coach to do?  

My guess is to shake things up as best as you can.  Push things back somewhat to basics however the Rangers are kinda against it right now because Ovechkin has his team flying and they’ve bought in to what Barry Trotz is selling.  Not only that but Holtby is keeping his net clean along with the fact that the Rangers aren’t making him work.  They are doing it to themselves.  For a team that is a season removed from the Stanley Cup finals it’s time to wake up and smell the Sabrett water.  I can’t stress it enough, overlook Ovechkin now at your peril, he’s bought in, he’s bringing capital punishment.