Posted on: April 29, 2011 5:59 am
Posted on: April 29, 2011 5:56 am
Posted on: April 29, 2011 5:47 am
Posted on: April 24, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 5:14 pm
Torts’ stay in the Big Apple wasn’t halted when the New York Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
The New York Post ’s Larry Brooks reports today that Rangers coach John Tortorella’s contract has been extended, likely through the next three seasons. Tortorella -- who was hired midway through the 2008-09 campaign -- orginal contract was to expire after this season.
Here’s more from Brooks’ report:
Two years ago it was a seven-game series, the Rangers blowing a 3-1 series lead. This time, it ended in a tidy five games, elimination coming yesterday with a 3-1 defeat in which the Rangers scored their lone goal — and just their eighth goal of the series — with 31.5 seconds to play.
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 23, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2011 6:37 pm
So far, so good.
That's the early return on the Washington Capitals and their offseason investment to defense first.
Last year around this time, the sport's most explosive team was in the middle of collapsing, losing to the eighth-seeded Canadiens. Add it to the list of shortcomings in recent postseasons for one of the regular season's best.
This time, however, the focus has changed. And so, it looks like, have the team's postseason possibilities.
All five games against the Rangers were close; the Caps weren't dominating anybody in this series. But they were playing playoff hockey, a tough, defensive-minded game where easy scores are rare. Exactly what was missing before.
They made an average offensive team a bad offensive team, minus the one New York outbreak in Game 4. An offensive powerhouse before, they are becoming a power at protecting their house.
Part of the turnaround can be attributed to Michal Neuvirth in net, to be sure. And he deserves credit. He was incredibly solid and reliable for a team that had featured a turnstile in net the past few seasons.
"He [Neuvirth] didn't give them a chance. He was great. He covered up pucks, didn't give rebounds," Bruce Boudreau said after the game. "A lot of people don't know his name too much, except around our parts, but he's a heck of a goalie."
But it's pretty amazing how much better a goalie is when the shooting lanes are clogged and opposing skaters can't set up and fire away with the accuracy of a regular sharpshooter. Thank the defense.
"I think they've really bought in. From that [7-0 loss Dec. 12 to the Rangers] on, I bet you we had the best goals against in the league," Boudreau said. "They want to win. When they heard this is what we think we have to do to win, they bought in. They've come a long way."
"You can see how we sacrifice our body. Everybody blocked the shots," said Alexander Ovechkin, who played on the right wing instead of the left on Sunday. "It was very important for us to not give them many chances to score goals. To not give them momentum. When we get ahead, We focused on our neutral zone and defensive zone."
It takes a complete breakdown now for the Caps not to have three or more skaters near the net. Granted, this is not new to hockey, it's rather standard for many teams. But it hasn't been for Washington.
After all, defense isn't prone to slumps the way offenses are.
Of course, the price to pay for all this comes at the offensive end. The Caps aren't scoring as much. Nowhere near it. But, as they proved in Game 4, they can abandon the stay-at-home philosophy when needed and let their playmakers go to work. When that list of names includes Ovechkin and Semin -- who each scored in Game 5 -- that’s a daunting proposition.
Now the Capitals get something no other team in the East will benefit from: a rest. They are the only team to wrap up their series in five games or less. It's probably a nice break for fans rocking the red, too. For the first time since the lockout, the Capitals played a series that didn't go seven games.
This has to be what Boudreau imagined when his retooling began. But next round we'll find out how much that defense has truly improved.
-- Brian Stubits
Posted on: April 21, 2011 12:32 am
Maybe, Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was right.
Those fans at Madison Square Garden were quiet -- at least after the New York Rangers squandered a three-goal lead in the third period as the Washington Capitals seized a 4-3 victory in the second overtime of Game 4 on Wednesday.
On TV, that third period sounded a lot like what I heard -- or didn’t hear -- at Staples Center as the Kings fumbled a 4-0 lead in the second period en route to a 6-5 OT loss to the San Jose Sharks. The MSG fans gave it Boudreau and the Caps at the beginning, chiding the coach they call “Gabby” with “Can you hear us?” chants.
And as The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera reports Wednesday night, it went beyond that as well:
Earlier this week while making a radio appearance, Coach Bruce Boudreau said Madison Square Garden, the NHL’s oldest building, was “nothing” and “not that loud.” Whether it was intended to create a stir was irrelevant, because the comments provoked the New York faithful to make themselves known.
Just as the Kings became the fourth team in playoff history to squander a four-goal lead, the MSG crowd quieter as the Caps scored three third-period goals. The parallels didn’t escape Boudreau between the two games, who mentioned in a post-game interview that he had the Kings-Sharks Game 3 on his mind.
Still, it’s probably not advisable to call out opposing fans --- even if all the taunts went for naught.
It’s one thing to intimate the New York Rangers were targeting Caps defenseman Mike Green, who missed the final weeks of the regular season due to a concussion. That’s gamesmanship and a long-established practice by coaches to plant the seed in the mind of officials.
This fan stuff just seems reckless.
-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 19, 2011 1:38 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 1:50 pm
If Bruce Boudreau isn't familiar with a Bronx cheer, he soon will be.
Apparently the Capitals coach doesn't get the aura of Madison Square Garden. In an interview with a Washington radio station, Boudreau shared a few thoughts on the "World's Most Famous Arena." Here's betting he didn't make any friends in New York.
"Its reputation is far better than the actual building," Boudreau said in an interview on the station. "It's nothing. The locker rooms are horrible. The benches are horrible. There's no room for anything. But the reputation of being in Madison Square Garden is what makes it famous. Our building is a lot louder, too. They can say what they want, but it's not that loud in there."
Did you leave anything out, coach?
"It was to the side of the head, and it was a dirty shot. I hope the league looks at it," Boudreau said of a hit in Game 3 from Marc Staal. "That's exactly what we're trying to get out of the league and out of the game. Staal comes in, there's no puck, he takes his arm, he swings it at his head, but it's all forgotten because we score a goal to tie the game up.
"It shouldn't be forgotten and it wasn't the only time they targeted Mike's head."
As if the New Yorkers needed a reason to get more riled up. Just ask Pedro Martinez how it can be after saying anything bad about either New York or its teams.
MSG will surely be as loud as Boudreau has ever heard it before from here on out, especially if the Rangers are able to stay toe-to-toe with the Caps in the series. As for the other charges, well, they might be on target, but that won't matter much to the patrons. If he wants loud, he'll get it.
-- Brian Stubits
Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:22 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:28 am
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella preached patience -- at least in news conferences -- after his team dropped the first two games of the first-round series. He didn't have to do that after the Rangers broke through with a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, but he did anyway.