Coverage of the playoffs by the Post is fantastic today: an article by Barry Svrluga about our shift in philosophy, an article about King Lundqvist by Tarik el-Bashir, an examination of Jason Arnott by Mike Wise, and quotes from various Caps by Katie Carrera.
Great round-up by Dan Steinberg of the DC Sports Bog about the last Capitals-Rangers series. That was a mad one!Â The Bog, entertaining as usual.
A preview by SWhyno, who I’ve warmed to EXTREMELY quickly despite him coming from Philadelphia. Both our and their cores remain the same, but ours have matured while theirs have really just gotten older.
The Puck Daddy gimmick this season is bubble hockey’d up. Wysh is STILL one of the most adorable hockey scribes in the biz.
Three things about the Capitals-Rangers:
1. We have played dismally against them this season, going 1-2-1 and dropping games both 7-0 and 6-0.
2. The 7-0 game is what got our asses into gear, causing Boudreau to switch up his strategy and focus more on defence than on our typical “just score one more than they do” style.
3. The last playoff series we actually won was against the Rangers.
Desperately hope Varly is starting, because I will be in attendance on Wednesday (in sec 402, wearing a Backstrom away jersey. Say hi!) and I think we all know my feelings on Varlamov by now. Plus, there’s a precedent. Varly carried our ass in 2009, and it was our offence that let us down. Currently all signs point to Neuvirth. Here’s a question at the forefront of my brain: is Boudreau going to rotate, or do a win-and-your-in? If Neuvy wins today, does he start again on Friday? Or will Varly start, regardless? In previous years Bruce has jumped straight to starting Varly as a sort of nuclear option, but this year the dynamic isn’t veteran-miracle rookie, but miracle rookie-miracle rookie. Key here: if either one has to be named “number 1″ or “playoff starter” to be confident enough to perform, then they lack the inherent confidence to perform and shouldn’t get the start; this point was raised in reference to Neuvy — I think Varly’s a cocky enough bastard that this shouldn’t bother him. (I really don’t need to raise this much bullshit around this point: Neuvy should and will be the starter. I just like to watch Varly more…)
All the bluelines practiced on Tuesday with the exception of Dennis Wideman. Hopefully this will mean no Tyler Sloan and, though he’s been better than expected, Sean Collins. I’m in favour of giving Erskine legitimate ice time — the Rangers are pretty physical, and if they ice
that little shit that wacky scamp Sean Avery it’s nice to have some intimidation out there. He tried to pull his Brodeur antics against Varly in 09, going so far as to punch Varly in the face, and Varly just whacked him with his stick a few times. Later Poti (!!) smushed his face into the ice. It was awesome. Anyway, I don’t mind Erskine out there because he is a large bear-like man whose very presence should let the Rangers know we’re not going to stand for their sideshow acts.
Incidentally, I do think Avery will play — at least until we prove that he doesn’t phase us. Which we might not do, and it’s that prospect that, if not scares, annoys me. (For the record, I must say I adore Sean Avery. He reminds us that sports are, first and foremost, entertainment.)
The Rangers are without Callahan and Frolov, both of whom would add some much-needed offence. They are also without Boogaard, who I doubt would be receiving much ice time anyway, much like our DJ King.
This means their only real chance of a win is the subject I’ve been avoiding: Henrik Lundqvist. Fun fact: during the 2009 series, we boycotted the Hot Dog King out of loyalty. Anyway, one of our weaknesses is an inability to deal with hot goalies. This is a guy who has the ability to steal the series. I know we’ve switched to a more defensive style, but we still get inordinately frustrated when our Semin beauties, against all odds, are saved. (I’m getting really carried away with this we thing.) As Tarik mentioned, it’s going to be our garbagemen who make a difference in this series. We — dammit, they — just gave you 2 more mil, Knuble, so you better earn it.
I reckon Bradley will be in, because he has a good track record against the Rags (unfortunately this tricks Bruce into giving him ice time against foes other than the Rangers, when Hendricks does his job and does it better), and noises have been made about benching Fehr, because we’re going less for skill and more for toughness this series AND he hasn’t been doing so hot nonetheless. We all know Bruce loves to send messages, and they generally get through to the guys in the press box. I think he’s going to see how the first game (possibly two) play out physicality-wise before shaking up the lines and maybe giving Fehr the ice time he deserves, especially in lieu of Bradley or Gordon.
Most important of all: don’t let this series get to 7. I personally called this 4-2, but I don’t have any actual money on this, so I’m perfectly okay with 4-1 or a sweep. Bruce has not managed to coach a series that didn’t get to 7, and I don’t like the precedent. The… radio programme that was playing when my alarm went off this morning (the Sports Junkies? They were interviewing Joe B, which was a delightful thing to wake up to) mentioned that not one of the eventual Cup-winners post-lockout had gone to 7 in their first round. Sorry for the hideous construction of that sentence, but the point remains — we cannot tire ourselves out so quickly and so early. We need the extra days to recover, both physically and mentally.
I’d like to wrap this up with an exhortation not to worry, it’s just the semi-depleted barely squeaked into 8th Rangers, but that sort of bear-baiting never ever EVER ends well. So instead why don’t you make some luck fof your own with a beard pact or somesuch? My nails are currently red, though that was actually incidental. I did a nail pact thing last year, and we got bounced by the second-most evil sports franchise in all of history (first: the Red Sox).
And don’t forget to check out the bad guys over at A Shot from Broadway!