Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Series Breakdown

The Washington Capitals are used to doing things no one has done before. This time they came back from a 3 games to one deficit to beat the New York Rangers. The Rangers have never lost a series when they have that kind of lead, until last night. They are now 12 and 1.

While things started shaky for the Capitals it turns out a rookie goaltender was there to save the day. Simeon Varlamov came in to relieve Jose Theodore who got beat for 4 goals in game one. Theo's play did not go over well with Bruce Boudreau. He considered pulling Theodore after he let in a couple of shots he needed to save, but Boudreau said he didn't want it to look like they "panicking."

"There's times when you sit there, you need the save, and he didn't make the save when we needed it," Boudreau said.

Enter Varlamov who had only started a total of 5 times for the Capitals in the regular season. Even though the Caps would lose the next game, Varly had a better save percentage than his counterpart Henrik Lundqvist. The Capitals seemed to feed off Varlamov's good play by winning game 3.

The cool and calm Varlamov would finish the series with a .952 save percentage and only allowed seven goals in six starts including two shut-outs. An amazing start for a young goaltender who just turned 21 on April 27. His save percentage ranks him third among all goaltenders in the playoffs.

With the drama in net solved, the Caps needed goals against the league's stingiest defenses. When the Caps needed the goals the most, they came from unlikely sources. In game five, a must win game, Matt Bradley was the hero scoring two quick goals in the first period. In game six, three Capitals' defensemen scored the first three goals. In game seven it was Sergei Fedorov who scored his biggest goal as a Capital.

The Rangers did not make it easy. After stealing away games one and two, New York pushed the Caps to the brink of elimination with three chances to put the series away. They even had the Caps on the ropes early in game seven scoring the first goal. But their failure to support their goaltender with the scoring ending up costing them the series.

Credit the Capitals' defensive core who showed up just in time. John Erskine had a great series run. He was tough and smart. He took a swipe from Sean Avery and made a couple of key defensive stops through out the series. While Erskine played a great series, Milan Jurcina had a fantastic game seven. Jurcina battled with the Rangers best line of the night and was able to make some outstanding plays on the blue line.

Other Capitals that had a great series were Dave Steckel and Boyd Gordon. Both were solid in the face off circle and helped the Caps PK. Viktor Kozlov picked up his game for the playoffs scoring his first ever playoff goal. He finished the series with two tallies. Alex Ovechkin had the highlight reel goal of the series in game five. MVP of this series has to go to Varlamov, he backstopped the Caps to a series win.

No comments: