Well, last night wasn’t exactly the strong note the Washington Capitals wanted their season to end with, but that stinker will certainly be forgotten should the team win, say, 12 or 16 games in the next two months.
First, a quick look back at last night (BankAtlantic Center once again proved to be my foil when it comes to internet connectivity):
— The second line (Laich, Fedorov, Semin) had a pretty solid offensive game. I would suspect there is a pretty good chance that Brooks Laich will be spending plenty of time as a top-six guy in the next few weeks because he definitely adds a needed jolt of energy/grit/sandpaper to to the group.
— David Steckel nearly had a goal, and generally was active in the offensive end in the early going. Goals are likely to be hard to come by against the Rangers, and anything the Caps can get from the fourth line will be a huge bonus.
— The power play finished as the best in team history, and having Brian Pothier back means there might even be a little extra depth there.
Well, let’s just keep this brief — the defensive “effort” in front of Jose Theodore was in name only, Theodore had his worst game in a while and the offensive came and went like, well a team that was putting forth an effort that came and went.
Who would have thought a season that ends with the most points in team history would have such awful bookends. Remember, this campaign started with a 7-4 stinker in Atlanta.
Now, about those Rangers …
— The Caps won 3-1 at the Phone Booth in November. That was during Brent Johnson’s first term as the pseudo-No. 1 goaltender and he was sharp.
— The Caps won 5-4 in overtime at the Garden in December after trailing 4-0. A game of the year candidate, and there is likely to be plenty written about this game in the coming days.
— The Caps won 2-1 at the Phone Booth in early January. Alex Ovechkin had a shorthanded game-winner, but something else in this game is what stands out in people’s memories.
— The Rangers won 5-4 in a shootout at the Garden in February. Mike Green scored twice to tie the NHL record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman and the Rangers had a bit of fluky shootout goal that went off the post and came back to hit Theodore before going in.
Remember that all of these games came before John Tortorella was named coach and Sean Avery made his return to Broadway, so who knows how much to actually read into any of that.
What we do know is the first-round schedule will be out later this evening once the Flyers-Rangers game is over.