Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, April 20, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

Photo 2009 © Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

The Washington Capitals travel to New York to face the Rangers in Game Three of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs down two game to none. Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 35 shots he faced in Game Two, leading the Rangers to a 1-0 victory, sweeping the Caps off their home ice.


Washington had 35 shots on goal, with another 29 shots blocked and 24 misses in Game Two. One could imagine the Caps getting beaten by the Rangers many ways, but not being able to score goals probably wouldn't have been at the top of the list.

In fact, in Game Two Alex Ovechkin had more shots blocked than on goal, as did Mike Green.

Lundqvist, for his part, was solid, but did not need to be spectacular, as most of Washington's shots were from the perimeter. The Caps had one good flurry midway through the third period, but were unable to dent the Swede's armor, adding to the Rangers confidence factor, already high after taking Game One.


No one is going to confuse the Rangers with the 1985-86 Edmonton Oilers. They have serious deficiencies in the offensive end. But They have been very good about taking care of the puck, and taking it away from the Caps.

In Game One, the Caps had 11 giveaways and seven takeaways.

However, in Game Two the Caps had 24 giveaway, and the Rangers had 10 takeaways. It's a huge advantage to the Rangers if they can stay in the Caps passing lanes. It's been obvious that when the Caps struggle, they tend to complicate things more than simplify, looking for the "perfect" pass instead of crashing the net.

"Everyone's doing a great job sacrificing and trying to get in the way of pucks and not letting them get to [Lundqvist] as much as we can," defenseman Wade Redden said. "It's contagious -- you see other guys doing that, and you really try to do those little things that end up being big at the end of the night."


The Caps moved to rookie Simeon Varlamov for Game Two, and he played a solid game between the pipes. The one goal he allowed was on a 2-on-1 breakaway and perfect pass by Markus Naslund, setting up Ryan Callahan with the redirect goal. Varlamov made 23 saves and was agile and confident, two things Jose Theodore was not in Game One.

The move took Theodore by surprise.

"I didn't see that coming, to be honest," he said. "As one thing through my career that no one could take away was I was always a fighter and able to bounce back through big challenges. And for me, that was a big challenge. But I didn't have a chance to bounce back because I didn't play."

Coach Bruce Boudreau has not named a starter for tonight's game, and one supposes the announcement won't be public until the players come out for pre-game skate, like it was for Game Two.