Postgame Notebook, 11-01-07
Brian Sutherby won an offensive zone draw for the Caps at 6:21 of the second, and Tomas Fleischmann tapped the puck back to Capitals defenseman Mike Green at the right point. Green wound up to fire, but his shot was blunted by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, and the disc trickled all the way back to the Washington end. Green pursued the puck, collected it behind the cage and pushed it back along the right wing wall, but he and his mates were never able to clear it out of the zone. Brendan Shanahan collected it along the boards, and the Rangers kept the puck in and applied pressure.
Just 24 seconds after Sutherby’s offensive zone face-off win, Staal wound up for a point shot of his own. His made it through, and New York’s Chris Drury tipped it high into the cage behind Washington goaltender Olie Kolzig. It proved to be the game-winner.
The Capitals attempted 32 first period shots, but managed to get just 10 of them through and on goal. Six missed the mark altogether and 16 more were blocked out in front by New York forwards or blueliners. In the same period, New York got seven shots on goal, misfired on two and had only two blocked. So while Washington led in shots attempted by a 32-11 count in the first 20 minutes, it held only a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal.
The Caps adjusted a bit afterwards, and had 14 shots blocked the rest of the way. Washington led in shots taken on the night by a significant margin of 80-45, but edged the Rangers in shots on goal only by 31-28.
It’s worth noting that the Caps’ inability to clear the puck or move it safely out of the zone is the main cause for the goal against, but Washington continues to get a lot of shots blocked, and this particular one hurt a bit more than most others.
Tough Town – Washington is without a win in its last seven visits to Madison Square Garden. The Rangers have outscored the Caps by a combined 24-12 in those seven games, and the Blueshirts outscored the Capitals 5-1 in Washington’s two visits to Manhattan this season.
With Thursday’s triumph over the Caps, New York is now even in its all-time series against Washington. The Rangers are now 78-78-18-2 against the Caps.
Let it Flow – Generally speaking, NHL games average somewhere around a face-off per minute. The first period of Thursday’s game between the Caps and the Rangers had more flow than most contests, as only 11 face-offs took place and several minutes sometimes passed between whistles.
That flow continued into the second frame. Just past the midway point of the contest, the puck had been dropped for just 17 face-offs. Because there were so few stoppages in the latter half of the second period, a television timeout had to be taken with 46.9 seconds left in the middle frame. It’s rare to see TV timeouts in the final minute of a period. By the end of the second, only 23 face-offs had been taken.
The game’s final frame offered a bit more of a return to normalcy. There were 19 face-offs in the third period, Washington won 13 of the 19 third period draws (68.4%).
Heavy Duty – Caps left wing Donald Brashear skated 12:31 against the Rangers on Thursday, the second highest ice time total he has logged in his 89 games in a Capitals uniform. Brashear skated 12:37 last Jan. 13 in a game against the Florida Panthers.
In a recent interview, Brashear credited his ability to be more than an enforcer for his longevity in the NHL. He has played 858 regular season NHL games during his 14-year NHL career. With the way he has handled increased ice time and checking responsibilities while Washington deals with its current spate of injuries has backed up Brashear’s statement.
I Love New York – Since Nov. 9 1996, there have been 43 games between the Caps and Rangers, and Olie Kolzig has played in 42 of them. The only Washington game in Manhattan in which Kolzig has not played during that span took place on Mar. 5, 2004. Sebastien Charpentier started and went the distance in a 3-2 Rangers win.
On This Date in NHL History – Early in the first period of a game between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on this date in 1959, Habs goaltender Jacques Plante was felled by a backhand shot from the blade of New York forward Andy Bathgate.
After going off and getting stitched up – a process that caused a 21-minute delay in the game – Plante returned to the ice wearing a mask. Prior to that date, he had worn the mask only in practice. Although Clint Benedict of the Montreal Maroons had worn a leather mask briefly some 30 years earlier, he gave it up because it reduced his vision.
It wasn’t until Plante donned the mask at MSG on this date in 1959 that other goaltenders began to follow suit and wear masks of their own. Andy Brown of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the last NHL netminder to take the ice without a mask on Apr. 7, 1974.
The Rangers commemorated the anniversary of the landmark event with a very classy mini-documentary on Plante that showed on the MSG video board between the second and third periods.
Southeast Slayers – A few of New York’s skaters have feasted offensively in the Rangers’ five games against Southeast Division opponents.
Defenseman Michal Rozsival has three goals and six points in New York’s five games against Southeast opponents, and he has one assist in seven games against the rest of the league.
Left wing Brendan Shanahan has two goals and five points in the five games against the Southeast and just one assist in the seven games against the remainder of the NHL.
Center Scott Gomez has two goals and three points against the Southeast, and just one assist against the rest of the teams in the league.
Center Chris Drury has two goals and 10 points in five games against Southeast foes. He has yet to record a point in seven games against the rest of the league.
Right wing Jaromir Jagr has one goal and nine points against the Southeast Division and two goals against the rest of the clubs in the NHL.
Division Dominance – The Rangers are now 4-0 and have outscored Southeast Division teams by a combined 13-4 at home.
Iron Man – Including Thursday night’s game, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has played in 67 of New York’s last 68 games, including the playoffs. He has started 66 of those contests.
Lundqvist has allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of his 12 games this season. He entered Thursday’s game with a 1.82 goals against average (fifth in the NHL) and a .930 save pct. (sixth in the league). He is now second in the NHL with three shutouts.
Lundqvist’s whitewash of Washington was the first by a New York netminder against the Capitals since Mike Richter authored a 3-0 shutout win over the Caps on Dec. 18, 1995 at the Garden.
Maytag Repairman – The Rangers are the only team in NHL that has not used its backup goaltender. Steve Valiquette has yet to log any minutes this season.
Staal Starter – With his assist on Drury’s second period goal, New York defenseman Staal recorded the first point of his NHL career.
TV News – Comcast SportsNet and Cox Communications have reached an agreement that will bring CSN+ to Cox cable subscribers in Virginia.
Friday’s Washington Capitals game against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nov. 8 game against the Ottawa Senators will be available on CSN+ (channel 74) to all Cox subscribers in Fairfax County as well as on NewsChannel 8. Those games and future games designated for CSN+ will also be available to Cox subscribers in Fredericksburg on channel 77, Hampton Roads on channel 11 and Roanoke on channel 52.
If you are not a Cox subscriber, please use Comcast SportsNet’s easy-to-access zip code finder at www.comcastsportsnet.com to find CSN+ in your area.