Tag:New York Rangers
Posted on: April 24, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: April 24, 2011 5:14 pm

Report: Rangers extend Tortorella's contract

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.

“I don’t think our team is fully built yet, and I’ll be honest, we’re not there as far as talent,” Tortorella said minutes after the season came to an end. “You look at where this Washington team was, and [how they added] draft picks. “We’re still in a process, trying to get better,” he added. “There are areas with our team where we need to be better. But we’ll continue to build and continue to find our way.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 23, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: April 23, 2011 6:37 pm

Caps use defense first to be first winner in East

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

Caps' Boudreau gets last word at MSG

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.
A sold-out Garden was raucous when the teams hit the ice. Rangers fans quickly turned to their new enemy, chanting “Boud-reau Sucks!” in unison. They even replaced Denis Potvin’s name with the coach’s in the famous ‘Hot Cross Buns’ tune that Rangers fans have been singing, regardless of opponent, since 1979.

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

Boudreau doesn't think too highly of MSG

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?

Apparently. Here's what he had to say about the Rangers' approach to Caps defenseman Mike Green, who just returned from an absence from concussion.

"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

Tortorella: Rangers 'aren't far off'

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.

Here's the best of Tortorella's chat with reporters Sunday, along with Chris Drury and Henrik Lundqvist:

Posted on: April 17, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:46 pm

Rangers' second-period goal taken away

It’s fair to say there haven’t been many closer decisions in the two-decade history of the NHL replay system than what officials in Toronto had to consider at the end of the second period of the Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game Sunday afternoon.

Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko put the puck into the net as time expired in the period and it was ruled a goal on the ice. Replay officials, however, saw it differently and ruled it expired before the puck crossed the line.

 Here’s how the NHL’s situation room blog explained it:
Video review was used to determine if the puck crossed the line before time expired in the second period. The official burn-in clock on the overhead camera had time expired before the puck crossed the line. No goal.

 It instantly became less controversial when the Rangers held on for a 3-2 victory.
  -- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 12, 2011 6:16 pm

Capitals getting healthy, turn to rookie goalie

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Washington Capitals have fallen behind the last two first-round series, including in 2009 against these same New York Rangers

This time the Caps are expected to turn to Michal Neuvirth. He will make his playoff debut in net Wednesday with Semyon Varlamov -- who was turned to the last two postseasons after then-starter Jose Theodore stumbled -- as the backup. Neuvirth will likely have a familiar blueliner back in front of him, even if Caps coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t officially confirming Mike Green’s return from an apparent concussion. 

“We’ll figure it all out tomorrow, but he looks fine out there,” Boudreau said at the Capitals training facility on Tuesday. 

Minutes earlier, Green declared himself ready. He’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 25

“I feel great,” Green said. “I’m in game shape and ready to play.”

The team’s most prolific scorers --- at least when it comes to the last few regular seasons --- also appear to be healthy. Both Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin missed time over the final weeks of the season due to undisclosed injuries, which could be code for “rest.” Ovechkin is coming of a season with his lowest scoring output as a pro, but the Caps may be more worried how Semin will perform in the playoffs. 

Semin failed to score a goal and had three assists in the first round last year against the Montreal Canadiens. In fact, the last time Semin scored a goal in the playoffs was when the Caps edged the Rangers, 2-1, in Game 7 of the playoffs two years ago – a span of 14 games.

“He looks determined,” Boudreau said. “I think they all know what’s at stake. I have no qualms Alex (Semin) will give his best effort.”

-- A.J. Perez
Posted on: April 12, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 7:34 pm

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 8 Rangers

The Capitals return to the playoffs as the East's top seed -- a year after being upset by Montreal in the first round -- with a new defensive philosophy they hope can take them to the Cup. The Rangers were a bit fortuitous to earn their first playoff berth since their first-round exit to the same Capitals two seasons ago, thanks to a Hurricanes loss in the final game of the season.

Here's the breakdown.

Forwards: Any line that starts with the name Alexander Ovechkin immediately has an advantage over almost any other you can throw out. When you look up and down the Caps' lines, it doesn't drop much either, especially when at full strength. And it looks like they are on their way to being just that as Alexander Semin seems prepared to return. It's especially a mismatch when looking at the Rangers' group of forwards. There's Marian Gaborik (22 goals this season) and then four centers all with at least 18 goals. But the loss of Ryan Callahan is huge for an offense that has the tendency to disappear at times.

Edge: Capitals

Defensemen: One nice asset the Rangers have on the blue line is Dan Girardi, who never found a puck he wouldn't dive in front of. The human shield led the league in blocked shots this year, which comes as little surprise. But there's little offensive production from this group, with Girardi leading the way with 31 points. It's no secret why he and Marc Staal (seven goals) clock the most time on the back end for the Blueshirts. For the Capitals, this is the unit that has taken a good load of the blame for recent playoff flameouts, so people are anxious to see if things really have gotten better. The regular-season stats certainly reflect that as the Caps were fourth in the league in goals allowed. And we've seen what Mike Green is capable of with the puck, perhaps one of the most offensively gifted defensemen in hockey. They'll need him back from his concussion to join John Carlson. Coach Bruce Boudreau says he expects Green to go in Game 1.

Edge: Push

Goalies: If you could lump three into one, I'm taking the Capitals. They have three very promising goalies in Semyon Varlamov, Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, but the big question remains: who's their main guy? It's like the old saying in football; if you have two (or in this case three) starting quarterbacks, you really have none. I'm not sure that's entirely the case here, all goalies have shown to be very capable, so the lack of a starter is a bit more of an indication of their quality. But, as you know, only one goalie can play at a time -- shocking news, I know. And at this point, none is as good as Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist. He's in the Vezina discussion after leading the league with 11 shutouts and being perhaps the biggest reason New York has made it this far. The concerns are the fact that Lundqvist was in goal for the last 26 games of the season and that his primary backup, Marty Biron, is still injured. It's unclear if he'll be able to play if needed.

Edge: Rangers

Special teams: Despite the offensive talent they have shown in the past, Washington wasn't fantastic on the power play this season, coming in at 16th in the league with a 17.5 percent conversion rate. The Rangers check in a bit lower on the totem pole, posting the league's 18th best mark at 16.9 percent. You won't find a player in this series appearing in the top 30 for power-play goals this year (Callahan was tied for 18th with 10). Neither team is spectacular, so let's call it a wash. Defensively -- and this might surprise some considering past years -- the Caps were the league's second-most efficient team at killing penalties (85.6 percent). The Rangers are no slouches either, killing 83.7 percent of penalties. It's worth noting the Capitals took less penalties this season than the Rangers, too.

Edge: Slightly to the Capitals

-- Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

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