Capitals-Rangers Game Three Review: New York Takes 3-1 Lead Over DC

Dave NicholsSenior Analyst IApril 23, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 22:  Sean Avery #16 of the New York Rangers shoots the puck against Mike Green #52 of the Washington Capitals during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 22, 2008 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
The Washington Capitals had 39 shots on goal, and hit the post twice, but only got one puck behind Henrik Lundqvist and fell in Game Four to the New York Rangers 2-1.

Alex Ovechkin gathered his first goal of the series, and hit the post late in the third period. Sergei Fedorov also clanged one off a pipe. And as hard as Sean Avery tried to give the Caps an advantage, they just could not capitalize on two late power plays, and ended up going 0-for-6 with the extra man.
Henrik Lundqvist was again "the man" for New York, making 38 saves and generally looking twice his size in net against the Washington snipers.  But other than sheer volume, he wasn't particularly tested, with most shots coming from the perimeter.  The goal he allowed, as well as the two that rang off posts, were from long distance.
There was precious little net-charging from the Caps forwards as there was in Game Three's 4-0 Caps victory.
Simeon Varlamov played well again for Washington in goal, and the Rangers' first goal, a slap shot by Paul Mara that was redirected in the face-off circle, certainly could not be attributed to the 20-year old rookie.
But the game-winner was another story.  Rangers' captain Chris Drury lofted a wrist shot that perhaps surprised Varlamov with it's softness, and the goalie could not close his glove on it.  The puck bounced right back to Drury, and he chipped it over the confused goalie's right shoulder for the difference maker.

But the biggest question of the night is:  Is Mike Green Hurt? Either that, or he's ill. GM George McPhee, in an interview with Comcast SportsNet before Game Four, alluded to Green not being 100 percent, but would not elaborate.

Green has looked sluggish all series, but no more so than tonight's Game Four. Two shots on goals, four shots blocked, and two more missed shots don't really tell the story.

There just has not been a sense of urgency, no sense of speed with Green all series. His passes have lacked crispness, his shots lack that extra "something" that allowed him to be the seventh defenseman to register a 30-goal season in the history of the NHL.

He has been a shell of that player, the Norris Trophy candidate that looked unstoppable midseason.

He led the team in ice time last night, with 29:51. But was that out of habit? Out of necessity? Did the situation dictate it? Coach Bruce Boudreau did double shift some players at the end of the third period to get the offensive-minded Capitals out on the ice.

But Green was not the best player on the ice. Not even close. And if the Caps have any chance of scratching their way back into this series, Green has to get better, quickly.