2011 NHL Playoffs, Game 1: New York Rangers Show Capitals It Won't Be Easy

Matthew CalamiaCorrespondent IApril 13, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 13:  Marc Staal #18 of the New York Rangers stops Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals  in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 13, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

In their first game of the NHL playoffs, the New York Rangers showed they can play with the Washington Capitals. Even though they fell 2-1 in overtime Wednesday night in Washington.

First off, you have to be pleased with the Rangers' defense, a question mark solely based on youth coming into the series. Matt Gilroy (who scored the lone Rangers goal), Ryan McDonagh and Mike Sauer all played strong games and never looked out of place on the ice.

They have their first playoff game under their belts, and now they can move on.

If the defense was a question mark, the area for the Rangers where you know what type of game you're going to get is in goal.

Henrik Lundqvist played great, and allowed the Rangers to stay in the game while it was still tied. He had a little help from a couple posts, but made some huge saves throughout the period, including one on a breakaway to keep the game scoreless. 

Although he was held off the score sheet, Marian Gaborik played a very strong game, registering four shots on goal in 26:17 of ice time.

Gaborik was involved and around the puck, especially around the net. The Rangers need him to score, but you can't play any better than he did tonight without scoring.

I expect to see Sean Avery penciled in for Game 2. Mats Zuccarello didn't see much ice time in the third period, or any in the overtime session. He played just 7:34 of a game that nearly went to double overtime.

Avery brings some experience, and can get the forecheck going.

Lastly, it's difficult to harp on a player like Marc Staal, who finished with a game-high 33:48 of ice time, but you have to ask yourself what he was thinking on the game-winning play. He had plenty of ice to move the puck to, but chose to send it up the near boards to an area populated by three Capitals.

Again, difficult to get down on him, but you hope those mistakes don't happen too often.

The Rangers have a real complaint about the Capitals' first goal. I'm surprised the whistle wasn't blown in that sequence, but it wasn't and you have to shake it off.

Tough break for the Blueshirts, but you can't really complain. They're a team that doesn't score much and relies on their defense. They will capitalize on other teams' mistakes, and will wait out plays with the best of them.

They showed Washington that this isn't going to be an easy series to win, and that goals won't be easy to come by.

It's a tough loss, but it's also a long series. If the Rangers can bounce back and win Game 2 on Friday night they're back in business.

You have to be able to forget quickly in the postseason, and the Rangers have done that throughout the year.