|Not my best angle & this pic was rushed, but at least I got to see Graves again!|
Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. It’s late, so we’ll skip the usual spiel. You already know to check the archives for previous blogs and all that nonsense.
The Rangers dropped Game 1 of their second round series with the Washington Capitals, in a 2-1 game. For us Ranger fans, it was a pure heartbreaker. Nothing is a must-win game until you’ve lost three games in a playoff series, but this was a game the Rangers could’ve won and just gave away. It was just infuriating to watch.
I guess let’s start with the good news and then get to the bad news. The good news is that my girlfriend had to meet her friends in the city at 6PM. Since my partner in crime, the nefarious JEFFREY, was running late, I decided to kill time at the New York Ranger Hockey House. Within five minutes of being there, I met one of my all-time favorites, Adam Graves!
|Not the best thing to get autographed, but beggars can’t be choosers!|
For me, Adam Graves was my third favorite Ranger ever. As a kid playing hockey, I played defense. Jeff Beukeboom was always my favorite. Leetch was my second favorite. Graves was my third. I loved Messier & Richter too, and who didn’t at my age, and at that time, but since I played defense, I enjoyed watching Beukeboom and Leetch.
The reason I liked Graves so much more than Messier & Richter, was because during my teenage years, me and my friends all used to get autographs after every game. Where Richter & Messier would sneak by the fans or wear a disguise to bypass the autograph hounds, Graves would come out after every game and sign everything for everyone. I never forgot that. To this day, I still have autographed pucks and cards from Graves.
Keep in mind too, this was the mid-1990’s. There was no eBay. People got autographs for themselves. I’m sure some people sold their stuff to hobby shops, but for the most part, everyone was just collecting for their personal use. Out of all the big names the Rangers would have during the years, Graves consistently signed & took pictures with disposable cameras (remember those?) for everyone. It’s just a memory you don’t forget.
There was a period of time in the early 2000’s, where I was just furious at the Rangers for dealing Leetch & Graves. I stopped watching games for a while, out of anger. All my favorites were gone and I was furious! The 2004 lockout didn’t make things better. As I got older, I just had to accept the business end of sports. It’s not even the NHL. It’s every sport. It’s no longer playing for the fans or for the sport of it, it’s all about money. Advertisements. Ratings. Commercials. Endorsements. Whatever. Every sports league is money first, everything else a distant second.
While getting older, I just kept reading stories and personal accounts of peoples dealings with Adam Graves. The man is just a walking charity machine. I don’t have enough time nor the space to recap it all, but if you google “Adam Graves + Charity” a million hits will come up. The guy does so much charity work, 99% of it undocumented. He’s not a guy who does charity work when the camera is on, like Henrik Lundqvist. I’m not trying to come off like a know-it-all or anything, but I know so many people who have an Adam Graves story, that’s not documented publically. I guess to even compare Lundqvist to Graves isn’t fair, since Graves is just at a level where many will never reach.
Bottom line, Graves is one of the classiest and nicest players the NHL has ever produced. He is truly a treasure. It still sickens me the way Sather handled the exit of Adam Graves.
If there is anything you got out of this ramble, it is that Adam Graves is a pure role model and a true asset to humanity. You won’t find a nicer and more philanthropic individual than number 9.
|Section 119, Row 5!|
Since this is a bluecollar blueshirt blog, I tend to give you details of my personal life and then get to the game. You can read on 3843473737373 different sites about the game. I can just tell you what happened in one sentence. “The Capitals scored two goals, both at the end of an odd-numbered period. Fucking maddening!”
One person who pops up in these blogs from time-to-time is JEFFREY. JEFFREY, as you know, is a season ticket holder in section 213, along with his buddy Greg. Since Greg has a life, he isn’t able to go to as many games as he’d like. Usually I’m the first name called when Greg can’t make it and I’m able to attend so many games for face value.
Somehow, JEFFREY was able to pull some shit out of his ass tonight. Greg couldn’t make the game, so JEFFREY flipped the 213 seats and for a couple of bucks extra, turned them into five rows off the ice. My irish pecker is still hard thinking about where we sat tonight! A win would’ve capped off the night, but you can never complain when you’re sitting on top of the ice.
When reading this blog about the game, keep in mind that I was sitting so close and this is not a recap based off what you saw on TV. When I sit close at a game, I’m watching different things than I would on TV or even from the 200’s or 400’s level. I’m telling you, I was so close I could hear the guys talking and could just watch eyes.
One of the coolest things about tonight, for me, and let me reiterate, I’m lucky and fortunate JEFFREY pulled his magic, or else I could never sit this close, was just watching the eyes of the players. As you know from these blogs, while offense is sexy & puts the asses in the seats, I love the defense. I love great goaltenders. Most of the game, when the puck was in the Rangers defensive zone, I’m watching Hank and how he tracked the puck. I think JEFFREY had to tell me to shut up about it at least 10 times. However, just watching Hank’s head movements and how his eyes dart around like a cat chasing a red dot from a laser pen, is just awesome up close.
I posted these pics on twitter, but to give you a visual of my perspective of the game, let’s share these pics here:
|How do I get into the zamboni drivers union? Is that the teamsters?|
|I felt much better taking this picture than seeing it now!|
|A true warrior, Derek Stepan|
|I must’ve heard “GET OFF THE ICE BOYLE” from JEFFREY at least 100 times|
|Will this jersey have a Stanley Cup patch on it a month from now?|
|We were so close, we could share Wifi with that bitch Pierre!|
|These guys will come back strong on Saturday|
If you read my preview blogs on this series, especially the blog with Washington Capitals reporter, Rob Parker, I said the only way Washington has a chance of winning games in this series is if the Rangers don’t contain Ovi and Holtby outplays Hank. That’s basically what happened tonight.
Before this game, Ovi was announced as Hart candidate, with Carey Price (MTL) & John Tavares (NYI). I’m sorry if I’m coming off as excited or bragging a bit, but man, sitting so close, I really got to see why Alex Ovechkin is one of the greats. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen Ovi play before live and I have the NHL package, so I watched a lot of Ovi this season, but seeing him up close, man, it’s just wild. The guy does everything and he does everything at such a high level. There were times when the Rangers checked him and it didn’t even register. He gets to where he needs to be at all times. Where Sidney Crosby will always be a little bitch in my eyes, Ovi is a pure stud.
Other Ranger fans can release T-Shirts saying Ovi sucks or chant at the 8 minute mark how Ovi sucks, but if you really believe that, you’re just an idiot. Plain and simple. Ovi is the greatest player in the league today, in my eyes. I get rooting for your team and rooting against the competition, but deep down, if you think Ovi sucks, you are just clueless.
|The Great #8, Alex Ovechkin|
For 60 minutes, I thought the Rangers outplayed the Capitals. They outshot them, out-hustled them and were the better five vs five team. However, the story of the game was that the Rangers could not just bury the puck home. The Rangers had a ton of scoring chances that didn’t convert for goals, either because the Rangers shot wider than Scott Norwood kicking a football or because Holtby came up huge. Where was that Holtby that gave up soft goals against the Islanders? He wasn’t here tonight.
By my count, Kevin Hayes had three really good chances to score tonight, but just couldn’t get it done. There were so many “OOOOOOOOOHS” and “FUCCCCCCCKKKKKKS” reactions from JEFFREY and I. Really, this could’ve been a 4-1 game if the Rangers did what they did during the regular season.
There’s a lot to talk about, so sorry if I’m jumping all over the place, there’s just so many things going on in my head after this game!
|I wouldn’t want to get on Klein’s bad side!|
In an effort to keep this positive, let’s talk Kevin Klein. I thought he played extremely well. You couldn’t tell he missed so many games with an injury. During the early minutes of the game, he made three plays to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Back on defense, he shut down the Capitals. He had a very strong game and fired off a few shots too.
On the flip-side, Mats Zuccarello did not play. It’s being reported that he is at least out the rest of this second round, and possibly will miss the rest of the playoffs. Chatter in my section was that he has a fractured skull, which is a report no one has confirmed yet. I’m thinking that he must have something serious because if it was a concussion, you wouldn’t automatically rule him out for the rest of the series.
Losing Zucc sucks and hurts this team. He is their fireplug. He is their scrappy little guy. At times, he is the heart of this team and is one of the biggest fan favorites in years. Kind of like Michael Del Zotto when he first started, he is a player the men love and the women love to look at.
Zucc’s replacement, James Sheppard, wasn’t bad, but he isn’t Zucc either, just like how Hunwick wasn’t bad in Klein’s absence, but at the same time, he’s not Kevin Klein. If there is any bright side, if you had to lose Zucc, you would rather see it be against the Capitals, rather than the Islanders, as I feel the Islanders are deeper and the Rangers would need Zucc more against the NYI than Washington.
In any event, get well Zucc.
|Lundqvist, McDonagh and a Penguin|
The Rangers started off very strong, and early in the game, had 8 shots compared to Washington’s sole shot. However Washington came back, and fired a few shots of their own. Hank made tremendous saves all game, including a glove save that looked like a pitcher reacting to a quick line drive at his head. Hank also made a save on what looked like a RA Dickey knuckleball. He was great throughout. However, Holtby was just as good.
I can’t figure it out, but for the life of me, no matter how great Hank has been and you wouldn’t even know he missed so much time this season, the Rangers have made the other goalie look like the second coming of Patrick Roy. While the final tally may read Rangers 4, Pittsburgh 1, the Rangers only got 8 goals to win those four games, with two of those goals coming in OT. In other words, the Rangers got 6 regulation goals in those four wins. Hank can have a million saves a game, but if the Rangers can’t score, it does the team no good and for Hank, it’s like the first 8 years of his career all over again.
Holtby played extremely well tonight and finished with 31 saves on 32 shots as opposed to Hank’s 27 saves on 29 shots. On paper, it looks like Holtby played phenomenal, and while he did, he got a lot of help from the Rangers missing wide, time and time again. It was hard to watch with all the chances they blew.
With the Rangers playing the stronger game and once again failing on a PP opportunity, the Caps got a PP after a Dominic Moore hold on Jay Beagle, late in the first period. The Caps, unlike the Rangers, made it pay off. Ovi scored a power play goal, with less than two minutes to go in the first period.
I said it before the series, the special teams worried me. Washington was the best PP team in the league. You know what’s happening every time too. Washington sets up their triangle, the defense swarms in and then boom, kick it to Ovi for a shot.
I was watching Hank’s eyes during all this. He was all over the puck like flies on shit. He was screened but still knew where the puck was, hence his reaction on the shot. Listen, Ovi is a future HOFer and most likely the Hart winner this season. Great players do great things. I wouldn’t put this goal on Hank, but it is something he has stopped before. You just got to tip your cap to Ovi.
1-0 Caps, after one period.
|Contrary to popular opinion, I thought Glass & Sheppard played well tonight|
Ovi’s late goal was so depressing. It happened so late and in a game where the Rangers were dominating and you thought on the cusp of breaking out. It just never happened. The second period was more of the same. The Rangers all over Washington, but not being able to score goals.
By the time the third period rolled around, with the score of 1-0 still, you were biting your nails.
I don’t know if it’s me, but did anyone else think Yandle was hurt? He had plenty of slap shot opportunities all game, but he would always settle for a long wrister. Even his passes lacked the oomph and speed they had earlier this year. Call it a shoulder injury or an arm injury or whatever, but I don’t think he’s 100%.
After Dancin’ Larry did his thing at the FOXWOODS FINAL FIVE, (Fuck you NBC), Jesper Fast was able to get a goal off a double deflection, by who else, Hayes & Hagelin, the two heroes of the previous two playoff games. I still like Miller than Fast with Hayes & Hagelin, but with Zucc out, I get the line.
With less than four minutes to go, the Garden erupted after the Jesper Fast goal. For the first time all night, MSG woke up because they finally had something to cheer for. Before Ward’s eventual GWG, the crowd was rocking for the final four minutes. The Rangers had chances too, but couldn’t get the job done.
In what was the most depressing moment in all the games I’ve ever seen live, Joel Ward beat Lundqvist, with a shot through the five hole with a second left on the clock. I would rather see the Rangers lose 100-0 than see a goal scored with a second left like that. The feeling of ecstasy and the thinking that the Rangers would somehow find a way to win again, just evaporated, like the summer sun beating down on fresh snow. I’m writing this blog four hours after the fact, and I’m still miserable just replaying it in my head.
On Ward’s GWG, there are different ways to look at it. Did the defense break down? Yes, they did. Boyle was down. All I can still hear in my head is JEFFREY screaming “GET OFF THE ICE BOYLE!” Did the defense play great all game before that goal? Yes, they did.
I know I’m the Talbot guy, and people will shake their head at what I say, but Lundqvist needs to make that save. He is being paid top dollar to be the man. That goal just can’t go in. It needs to be stopped.
I know that we’re asking a lot from Lundqvist, but that is why he makes top dollar and is the highest paid goalie in the league. You can’t lose games like that. Get beat on a really good goal, not like that. And not with that time on the clock. I don’t know if the Rangers were just in “let’s get to intermission” mode or not, but for the defense to get beat and for Hank to let that in, I can’t put the emotion of pure anger in words. It was just 100% infuriating to see the game end like that, especially when the feeling of hope was ripped right out of you.
|I’m using this picture because you can be damned if you thought I took a pic of the GWG|
Game one is done and over with. The Caps lead the series 1-0. What can you take out of this game? On the positive side, this is a series the Rangers can win. Losing Zucc hurts, but the Rangers played great enough defensively. They lost because they couldn’t score and Washington’s PP is light years ahead of the NYR’s.
The Rangers need to figure out how to score on the PP and now they need to figure out how to score in general. When you play these defensive games like these, you are eventually going to be burnt. The Rangers really did a great job controlling the puck but couldn’t put it in the net. I wouldn’t call the Caps goals fluky, but they both came late and both sucked the life out of this game, for the home crowd.
My original prediction was Rangers in 6. The Rangers have a horrible home record in Game 2’s. That needs to change real quick. As of now, the Caps have the home ice advantage. Does that mean anything in the Verizon Center? The Rangers were one of the best road teams all year and in the playoffs.
This just sucks to lose a game in this fashion. There is no such thing as a “wake-up” game at this level or stage of the playoffs. You just have to hope the Rangers don’t want to feel like this again and take care of business come Saturday afternoon.
And how about Saturday? Talk about a huge day. The day starts with Game 2 of this series, Ducks/Flames, Game 7 of Spurs/Clippers, the horses and of course, the May-Pac fight. I’ll have to pick my spots to get my drinking in! What a long day of sports! And that doesn’t even include the baseball. Get ready to log a lot of ass time on your couch or bar stool, if you aren’t attending any of these events live!
I still can’t get over how much this loss sucks. All I can say is forget this game and bring on game 2.
LET’S GO RANGERS
WE WANT THE CUP
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter machine