The New York Rangers have been down 2-0 in a playoff series 20 times and have comeback to win the series only once (1996). After Friday night's 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals, they'll need to do what practically no other team in the franchise's history has been able to do.
With the amount of times this Rangers team has faced adversity this season, it would not be a shock to see them string some victories together in this series. But if the scoring problems continue, this series could be done with two more games. The Capitals new style predicated on defense stymied the Rangers' attack, just as it did in game one. Scoring chances were rare, goals non-existent.
The Rangers came out of the gate ready to play hockey tonight, unlike Game 1 when they looked tentative. The team's style resembled their identity for much of the season, yet couldn't exactly mount anything substantial. They weren't able to parlay their strong first period, which they lead in shots, 13-7, into an early goal and as a result, the Capitals saw it as an opportunity to jump all over them in the second.
Two minutes and 11 seconds into the second period, Jason Chimera converted on a one-timer from Marcus Johansson, and the wheels fell off for the Rangers for the rest of the period. The next several minutes of the period the Rangers spent scrambling all over the place; they were out of position and were playing some of the most discombobulated hockey they've played all season. Ryan McDonagh took a questionable roughing penalty on Boyd Gordon and the Jason Arnott would beat Henrik Lundqivst after a bouncing puck found his stick to put the Caps up, 2-0. John Tortorella then called a timeout to calm his guys down, but it was too late.
The Capitals outshot the Rangers, 8-3, in the second period and quite frankly, the Blueshirts barely had the puck at all in the second frame. Any chance they had off rushing up the ice was often negated by terrible passes, offsides (Sean Avery had four or five in the game) or bad bounces.
The third period was a much different story but it really didn't matter in the end. The Caps played some stout defense and protected their lead well. The Rangers greatly controlled the puck possession of the period, but the Caps only allowed them to take six shots on net -- and when Michal Neuvirth was called on to make a key stop, he did. The Sean Avery-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust line was seemingly on every other shift and it was extremely effective cycling and mustering a resemblance of offense. Don't expect Avery to sit out the next one as he was the Rangers best player on the ice (which is not a good thing, but is encouraging for him) and showed his agitative self as well.
In the end, the Rangers had two period-ending power plays that were just plain awful. They are now just 1-for-31 in their last 11 games and it's really been an Achilles' heel of this team lately. Altogether, though, the Rangers only lost by two goals. Henrik Lundqvist continues to be brilliant in net -- he made 16 saves, but many of them high-quality chances. They are sticking with a much more talented, top-seeded team and just need to find ways to get the puck in the back of the net. If they play like they did in the second period, this series will be over in a heartbeat. They need to consistently play their style of hockey -- and most importantly, start throwing more pucks on net. Neuvirth has been solid, but he hasn't been tested enough. Getting more offensive chances will be a must in Game 3.
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