I'll just come out and say it, I don't like the way the Caps played at Madison Square Garden. Whether its the crowd, the ice, or they were too relaxed after a 2-0 series lead, the Caps had some serious issues when playing in New York City.
I'll start with stupid penalties:
Remember at the beginning of the season when the Caps struggled off the the drop of the puck in game one of the season? Well, a lot of that was thanks to some stupid penalties. This is the playoffs and if the Caps want to have any chance of winning this series, those dumb penalties have to stop. I'm looking at you Chimera! That interference penalty to end the 2nd period on an OFFENSIVE RUSH was a game changer. The Rangers game out in the 3rd period and scored a goal one minute into the period after surrendering a 2 goal lead late in the 2nd period. Blame: Jason Chimera.
Next we have the ice. Its been known to be the worst ice in the NHL for many years. Still, no excuse because the guys on the Capitals are professionals. They have played there many times in their careers and two times this year alone. It's called adapting to your environment and if they can't adapt to it and win a game at MSG, well, good luck in the later rounds of the playoffs (if we make it there).
Finally, Ovechkin. Yes, I said it. Alex Ovechkin is a key to the Caps surrendering a 2-0 series lead because, where has he been the last two games? Pretty much in La La Land. When Ovechkin doesn't score or produce points, the Caps simply don't win. The early parts of the season proved that and games 3 and 4 also proved that. He had a great two games at the Verizon Center and he has produced at MSG before. I'm not sure why he went into hiding in games 3 and 4.
The Caps looked tentative in games 3 and games 4 at MSG. I don't know if they were afraid to make a mistake in fear to have the crowd all over them or if they just can't play well at MSG. Either way, they only came out of their shell when it was too late. By too late I mean when Henrik Lundqvist was the saving grace of the Rangers. If you put a flurry on at the dying minutes of the game, Lunqvist will win it nine out of ten times.
Until Next Time,