Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Ovechkin's PPG Sinks Rangers, 3-2

Alexander Ovechkin only had 13:36 of total ice time and 18 shifts last night. In fact, his 13:36 for the night was the lowest of his 46-game Stanley Cup playoff career. The 'defense first' philosophy of Washington Capital's coach Dale Hunter has found The Great 8's game wanting. Ovie scored the game winner off a faceoff win, on his 17th shift, with 7:27 remaining in the game. His reward for scoring was to be virtually benched. He only had one more shift of 23 seconds after his slapper for the 3-2 lead. Thank you very much.

Alexander Semin, a 21 goal scorer for the Caps during the regular season, only had 12:27 of ice time last night. The Capitals are stealing a page from the John Tortorella hockey handbook. The defenders shall inherit the earth or at least all the ice time. The only reason Chris Kreider is getting his time (17:54 last night) is that he can play Tortorella defensive hockey. If Ovechkin played for Tortorella he might be called the Great 8, because he would be averaging only 8 minutes of playing time a game, and that mostly on the power play.

So, both teams are settling in for a grind house defensive war. Can the Capitals beat the Rangers at their own game? They did last night. If the series is decided by special teams, like power play units, I think you have to give the edge to Washington. Turning number 8 into a special teamer gives him plenty of incentive to make his PP time count for something. AO took 5 of his 7 shots on the PP.

If you are a 'defense first' team like the Rangers, you can't suffer defensive lapses. That's what happened on the first two Washington scores. Stu Bickel and Del Zotto teamed up to gift the Caps their first goal off the odd man rush that was set up when Bickel's lazy cross ice pass was intercepted. Bickel (3:07 TOI) was reward with just one more shift for the rest of the night. Thank you very much.

If this series is determined by the PP, then having number 8 blasting from the point will turn out better for Washington. Michael Del Zotto will not trump Ovechkin in playing point on the PP.


Chris Kreider, No. 20, hits a Washington Capitals player

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  • Section 335 said...

    I left the game disappointed, but optimistic. Our mistakes are out of character, and we played well.

    We can handle Ovi on the point. Just be aggressive, shadow him, and play 3 on 4 with the others.

    My only concern is the need to clear the crease. We still need that one piece - a big nasty D man.

  • jb said...

    A big nasty D man would be nice. Seems like he would have to be paired with Del Zotto.

    Seems like the Rangers will need to get some dirty goals to win games, and I think someone other than Callahan will have to get to the front of the net to help in that department.

  • jeanine1994 said...

    For the life of me I can't figure out why as a coach you'd want to handcuff a player like Ovechkin. It's fine with me, the less we see of him the better, but do these defense first coaches truly believe that it's smart hockey to stifle their teams best offensive players simply because of defense?! Clearly the answer is YES. I've been saying to people since we got Torts we really have no idea what offensive capabilities our players have because Torts system completely suffocates offense and I think the proof is right here with the Caps. The Caps offensive #'s are way down simply because of the change to an all defense system. Personally I think it sucks, these D at all cost systems are ruining the game. Hockey is about, excitement, scoring, and having some fun at the other teams expense, *Sigh I miss offense.

  • Jen9400 said...

    Just as my sister Jeanine1994 just said I miss offense. This is going to be one looooong series. A long series of waiting. Waiting for the other team to make a mistake so we can try to score on low risk chances. Cross your fingers and hope the wait is worth it so we can move on... its just.... too ridiculous for words. Watching these two coaches go head to head in a battle of who can out wait who is just not exciting. At all. Hockey is not supposed to be played this way. Its supposed to be exciting, intense, the players going as hard as they can, leaving it all out there on the ice. Its not supposed to be played out of fear of losing- it is supposed to be played fearless. The cup is supposed to be won by the team who makes it happen not by the team who waits for it to happen. They call this "the right way" but I don't see that it is and judging by the extremely large inventory of shirts that remain on the selves at MSG that read "the right way" I am certainly not alone in feeling this way.
    The Flyers seem to be the only team interested in scoring goals these days and maybe the Kings. Which brings me to the west where it is shaping up to be a battle between Phoenix and LA for the right to play for the cup. How exciting will that be?
    Will be interesting to see what happens since the road to the cup seems wide open. Will the Flyers sing the Doop Doop song all the way until June or will one of the many defensive remaining teams shot block their way all the way to win number 16? I love to say number 16. Number 16? Don't even get me started on that one. Sigh.

  • Section 335 said...

    If you have the talent of the 99/11 powered Edmonton Oilers or you score 385 goals in 80 games, like the 81-82 Islanders, you can afford to run and gun against anyone. With the team that we started with this year, we could not do that. And, with the limited number of top ten picks a team gets that makes the playoffs most years, we could not draft top forwards.

    So, our Rangers took the other path. They had a top goalie, and drafted top tier defensemen. Until just about now, with Krieder and Hags, we did not even have 6 top forwards to fill the top two lines. Basically, we became the Devils.

    The problem with being the Devils is that it is hard to come back from being down by two goals. We usually cannot. Last night we did, but that is because we finally have six or seven forwards who can score and two good top lines.

    I view this year as a learning experience for our kids. Maybe we can go the distance, because the breaks have taken away several really top teams (Bruins, Penguins, Detroit, Chicago etc.) But next year, with the core we have, a physical defensemen and one more hired gun (maybe Nash) this team will be able to open it up when it wants.

  • jb said...

    The irony of this Cup playoffs, is that it definitely looks wide open, yet the Rangers insist on making it difficult on themselves by not seizing their opportunities.

    I hope we don't end up in a coulda shoulda situation. That is if the Rangers lose to Caps or in the next round; the team they lose to then goes on and handily wins the Cup. Painful.

    But, the Rangers are making every goalie they face look good. This defense at all costs has totally stunted any offensive initiative.

    I totally agree, not 'the right way'. It's become a battle of seeing which team makes the fewest mistakes. Last night the Rangers lost that one. Hiding in their defensive cluster around Lundqvist and then looking for the odd man rush, the PP opportunity, or a giveaway is playing 'not to lose' hockey.

  • Section 335 said...

    Last night, after we went down two goals, we did open it up. First time in the entire playoffs. And, we scored two goals. But for the second penalty, I think we would have won.

    Shame, as that might have given us the confidence to open it up more.

    Also, I think that Cally and Gabbie are playing hurt.

  • Jen9400 said...

    I understand exactly what Section 335 is saying but I wouldn't count on the Rangers opening up under this coaching staff. People always tell me that we don't have the talent to "run and gun" which is not what I suggest anyway. Honestly, all I want is for coaches to respect offense just as much as they do defense. Torts is defense first we all agree which is not the problem. The problem is he is defense second, third, fourth fifth, and maybe a little offense around sixth or seventh provided its not too risky.
    You can be defensively responsible AND be offensive but you have to trust the players to their own instincts rather than cut their wings and therein lies the problem. Torts doesn't trust them. Any of them. When a player like Gaby uses his instincts for offense he gets nailed to the bench or reamed if God forbid he makes a mistake or leads to an odd man rush. I think the addition of the new players is awesome for our offense but you will never see it fully flourish with this coach. He will hold them back. He will not let them go and no trust inspires no confidence. The second guessing is always there.
    Look at the Caps. We played them in the first round in our last two playoffs before this one. They have so much offensive power that we had to duck for cover and pray Henrik would hold up. Who are these guys we are playing this year? Where did that fire power go? I understand they were not the best defensive team but why cripple the offense in order to correct the problem? I told Jeanine last night, now Ovechkin looks like Gaby. A guy with tons of skill and talent that he's not allowed to use and for what? Some guys are supposed to take risks. They are born with this tremendous talent and they have to waste it. If they take a risk and it turns into a mistake, then you have that great defense to trust to make the play and if that doesn't happen then you have the best goaltender in the world to trust to make the play. The 2000 cup winning Devils were not exactly the Oilers of the 80s. They had everything, but honestly offensively they had the A-Line and Mogilny. They had some secondary scoring, defensive forwards, great D-pairs (of course Scott Stevens that big D your talking about) and Marty. The philosophy of Lamoriello was that a team is like an orchestra and its brilliant. The drummers drum, the flute players play the flutes, etc. That's what is lost on Torts. He has no idea how to identify roles he just forces everyone into the same mold. He wants everyone to be Callahan and we all adore Cally but we need Gaborik to be Gaborik, so on and so fourth. So I agree that we have turned into the 95 Devils, but what we really want is to take a page from the 2000 Devils and IMO we have the pieces (except Stevens) to do it. We just need the coach.