Everyone knew how John Tortorella and the New York Rangers were going to handle Game Two of their first round series with Washington. They were going to try and bring physicality and force the Caps to be on the defensive all night. Hence the substitution of the sucker-punching S.O.B. Sean Avery for Mats Zuccarello.
The Caps weren't having any of that. Before they cooled down in the later half of the first period, Ovechkin and co. came out with an unmatchable intensity; they anticipated New York's physical intentions and dominated them at their own game.
After the first intermission, the Caps came out guns blazing and played a pretty unforgiving period. Jason Chimera certainly made the most of his night, as he managed to convert the first goal of the game, along with five shots in a mere 4:26 of ice time.
Not too long after Chimera's tally, Jason Arnott found the back of the net, beating an out-of-position Henrik Lundqvist off the lucky bounce from a Mike Green shot.
Tonight's game certainly wasn't the classic Washington offensive bull-rush we've all been used to in playoffs past. The Capitals did a fantastic job of keeping a defensive mindset, not to mention that they continuously took bodies along the boards.
Of course, Michal Neuvirth received the credit he absolutely deserved, being named the contest's First Star. Neuvy proved his worth as he stepped up late in the game to shut the door on the resurgent Rangers. That's two games in a row in which the youngster has been fantastic not only game-wide, but within the crucial, waning minutes of both games. Well done, sire.
What a huge game Washington won tonight. It would have been dreadful for it to drop a two-goal lead and then travel to Madison Square Garden for a two-game stay. That could have been semi-nightmarish. I can say for most Caps fans that even we would have felt the pressure put on Washington's shoulders.
If the Caps keep up the preparation, game-plan execution and total domination of the New York Rangers, the Big Apple and MSG will be in the rear-view mirror and the Caps take home ice for a series clinch.
I'd love to be in the press corps right now, barraging John Tortorella with questions and making him eat his own words. Let's see you and the players get your backs off the wall this time, John.
Lastly, on a side note—Is it me, or can Sean Avery only talk the talk and not walk the walk? All night long, I was begging for Avery to drop the gloves and do a a little dance with mighty John Erskine. I'm sure we can assume that his definition of walking the walk is a sucker punch to John Carlson and a cross-check to the back of Alex Semin.
I hope, Sean, that you are enjoying your "sloppy second" stint with the New York Rangers.