Last spring, a clearly overmatched Rangers team hung around with the Capitals in the first round of the playoffs, before ultimately, inevitably losing game seven. Last night’s 6–5 loss to Washington played out much the same way: The Rangers teased the Garden crowd with a five-goal outburst that, at one point, earned them a two-goal lead. But trying to outscore this Caps team isn’t wise.
This Washington squad would have the advantage in a high-scoring game against any team in the league — not just one as unfamiliar with high-scoring games as the Rangers. (Alex Ovechkin’s ridiculous one-handed flip of the puck past Henrik Lundqvist is sure to find its way onto all of those Ovechkin highlight videos that make up the bulk of YouTube’s content.) Even the supporting cast — guys like Mike Knuble and Tom Poti — got into the scoring. Too bad the Rangers never have players like them.
If you’re looking for positives, it’s a moral victory just competing against Washington right now — they’ve now won twelve straight games to distance themselves from the Eastern Conference pack — and the Rangers went four-for-six on the power play, the first time they’ve scored any goals with the man advantage in eight games. (They were so efficient, in fact, that Sam Rosen hadn’t finished reading an ad for Amtrak when Vinny Prospal scored just seconds into a five-on-three power play.)
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Rangers: On Saturday, they’re home against New Jersey, who signaled that they’re going for it this season by trading for Ilya Kovalchuk yesterday. Presumably, goals against the Devils — who’ve allowed the fewest in the NHL — will be at a premium. But the Rangers are used to that.