Now that I’ve recovered from a near breakdown – I temporarily misplaced my BlackBerry, which, of course, was right next to the mustard at the hotdog bar – I’m ready to talk pucks.
From the sounds of it, the Caps are going to use the same lineup as Game 1. The Rangers, however, are making a change – and it’s an intriguing one. Coach John Tortorella said he plans to insert agitator Sean Avery and send 5-foot-7 Mats Zuccarello to the press box.
Avery’s presence, alone, could make what already figured to be a fantastic game soooo much more entertaining.
Check back in a few minutes for the Capitals’ lineup and throughout the game for my thoughts. I’ll be posting in reverse-chronological order, after the jump.
--Update, end of game: After a so-so first period, the Capitals bounced back with a two-goal second and an impressive lock-it-down third to secure a 2-0 win in Game 2.
Michal Neuvirth earned his firt postseason shutout in his second start and has held the punchless Rangers to one goal in 138:24. He finished with 22 saves.
The Caps can now take a stranglehold on the series Sunday in New York.
I’ve got to run down to the dressing room. Thanks for stopping by.
--Update, 12:00 third period: Sean Avery trying his best to get the Rangers going. He jumped on top of Alexander Semin during a scrum in front of the net, then took a hack at John Erskine.
Crowd reponds with chants of, “Avery [stinks].”
--Update, 10:30 third period: The Rangers are really struggling to create any sort of offense. They’re getting zone time, but their shots are either sailing wide, getting blocked or Michal Neuvirth is turning them aside.
They’ve got two this period. That’s not going to get it done.
--Update, end of second period: The Caps needed a better effort that period -- and thanks in large part to a stellar effort from the third line -- that’s exactly what they got.
Jason Chimera, so far, is my first star of the game. He’s got a goal, five shots and four hits through 40 minutes. Who would have guessed that after Game 1?
The Caps are also winning the special teams battle. They’re 1-for-3 on the power play and have shutdown the Rangers’ power play, which is 0-for-2 and has mustered only two shots.
--Update, 18:11 second period: Alexander Semin to the box for hooking. It wasn’t egregious, but he definitely got his stick on Marian Gaborik’s hands. And that’s a no-no. (Especially when you’ve got a rep for stick fouls.)
That’s two hooks in two games for Sasha.
--Update, 10:00 second period: Per the scoreboard, the Rangers have yet to show up this period. No shots so far.
--Update, 4:08 second period: Just like that, it’s 2-0 Caps. Verizon Center is going nuts after Jason Arnott fired a shot past Lundqvist on the power play. It looked like the puck found Arnott after Mike Green’s point shot hit Matt Gilroy’s stick.
Katie, by the way, says Arnott looks like G.I. Joe. I agree.
The Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh was in the box for the second time. Interference in the first period and roughing in the second. Welcome to Tortorella’s doghouse, Ryan.
--Update, 2:11 second period: Jason Chimera just put the Caps up 1-0, capping a terrific shift by the third line. After a dogged effort by Chimera and Laich along the boards, Laich started the scoring play with a one- handed pass from behind the net to Marcus Johansson, who deftly slipped it across to Chimera.
Chimera has struggled this series to get his shots on net. But not that time.
--Update, end of first period: Coach Bruce Boudreau said this would be a low scoring series, and so far he’s been spot on. We’re scoreless here at the Phone Booth.
The Caps mustered only seven shots (to the Rangers’ 13) and no shots on their only power play. That makes them 0 for 3 with the man advantage in the series.
Neither Alex Ovechkin nor Nicklas Backstrom recorded a shot on goal in the period. Their linemate, Mike Knuble, got off two, but he also misfired on a shorthanded 2 on 1 with Brooks Laich.
The Caps, obviously, need a better effort in the second. That might have been the first period the Rangers out-worked them. And let’s face it, folks, the only way the Rangers win this series is if a) Henrik Lundqvist steals it or b) New York out-works the Caps.
--Update, 11:00 first period: Much has been made about Jason Arnott’s influence on the Alexes. Now we’ve got video proof. The old vet just spent an entire TV timeout coaching up Ovechkin on the bench, pointing while he was talking. Ovechkin politely nodded the whole time.
--Update, 6:07 first period: Brooks Laich takes preemptive strike against Sean Avery and levels the Rangers’ agitator with a shoulder in front of the home bench. Avery is mad.
--Update, opening faceoff: Horn Guy just kicked off the game the way he always does. But this time he was also holding a red handwritten sign that read, “Crash the net.” Well, we know he was paying attention during Game 1.
--Update, 6 minutes until faceoff: Starting lineup for Caps — Ovechkin, Backstrom, Knuble, Hannan, Schultz, Neuvirth.
The Rangers are starting Fedotenko, Stepan, Dubinsky, Staal, Girardi, Lundqvist. As you might have noticed, Coach John Tortorella has mixed up his forwards in an attempt to squeeze out some offense.
--Update, warmups: The Caps are on the ice at here at Verizon Center. And, as we suspected, there do not appear to be any changes to the lineup (based on warmups, anyway).
Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble
Sturm- Arnott - Semin
Laich - Johansson - Chimera
Hendricks- Gordon - Bradley
Alzner - Carlson
Schultz - Hannan
Erskine - Greeen
Fehr, King, Sloan and Collins are healthy scratches; Dennis Wideman (leg hematoma) and Tom Poti (groin muscle) are injured.