Ying and yang. New age and old school. Offense and defense.
The Capitals and Rangers both won key games in their respective series’, and couldn’t have done it in a more different fashion.
Before the playoffs started, the Washington-Philadelphia matchup was a toss up among prognosticators. The Flyers, always with poor goaltending nagging their playoff potential, needed Martin Biron to step up, and Washington needed secondary scoring to provide support for Alex Ovechkin.
Even though Ovie’s presence was felt throughout Game 1, the Flyers checked him tightly and he didn’t get a shot on net until late in the third period. Two go-ahead goals in the first half of the game from Donald Brashear and Dave Steckel were getting the job done for Washington.
And, boy, can that Mike Green guy play, or what?
After the Caps slowed and fell behind by two, it was Green who first stepped into the third-period spotlight with a Bobby Orr-esque diving-across-the-crease goal, and then tied the game with a blistering bullet past Biron.
How blistering? Ask Patrick Thoresen how blistering.
So with the game tied late, the only ingredient of success missing for the Caps was the ever-reliable Ovechkin goal.
An eager force all game, Ovechkin’s fierce forecheck eventually took its toll on the Flyers when he snatched the disc away from Jaroslav Modry and Lasse Kukkonen. Do you think Ovie was excited? He skated all the way down to share his giddiness with Cristobal Huet.
And just to top it all off, Ovechkin ended the game by hammering Mike Richards to the ice.
How’s that for sending a message?
With a 5-4 final in favor of Washington, the Flyers are still being bothered by a lingering goaltending curse. But make no mistake, this high-tempo series is far from over and is going to be a ton of fun to watch unfold.
Down by the river…
On the other side of the spectrum you had the Rangers and Devils.
The battle of the great goaltenders continued, but luck just doesn’t seem to be flowing on the Devils’ side of the river this spring.
In such a close, tightly checked series, any miscue has agonizing potential to cost someone a game. It happens to the best; heck, Martin Brodeur made a devastating blunder in Game 1.
It’s not like the Devils, a perennial powerhouse and Cup contender, to make those backbreaking misplays, but it happened again in Game 2.
Jaromir Jagr’s goal to break the scoreless tie came after a mix-up by Colin White, who accidentally nudged Brodeur slightly off balance as Jagr was spinning to take a shot.
You can tell the Rangers are going to go far this year because of Jagr’s new facial hair-do. He’s in the playoff spirit and he means business. Although, if he really wanted to intimidate opposing teams, he’d bring back his youthful locks.
The Devils’ great goaltending can’t help them in this series. King Henrik is hereby shutting down any and all scoring attempts. Let the coronation begin.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
Rory Boylen is THN.com’s web content specialist. His blog appears Thursdays.
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