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Last year when the Capitals beat the Rangers in a 7 game series, it would be really easy to say the Rangers were in it from start to finish and just barely lost (by 1 goal actually) to a very good Washington team. But the truth of the matter was this. The Rangers were never in the series. Not for any sustainable length of time. Washington put on a a brute force attack that absolutely dominated us from game 1 to game 7. The sole reason (and we have been through this many times) we were in it was because of the brilliant play of Henrik Lundqvist.

Tonight was something different though. In a game which played through very much like a regular season affair, the Rangers controlled the play seemingly as often as the super powered Capitals did. Both teams had power play chances, but neither cashed in. Both teams had even strength chances, and both teams iced nearly their full rosters including a full 60 minutes for likely both teams opening night goalies. So it shouldn’t be surprising that such an evenly matched affair should end with a late goal with one team barely pulling out a win. What should be surprising though is that the Rangers played even with the Caps. Make no bones about it, the Caps are one of the best teams in the NHL. It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for this team to challenge for the Presidents trophy. And the team they iced out there was only about 2 or so players short of their opening night roster, much like us.

However, while there were positives abound, there were still a few worrisome things worth discussing. First and foremost is that Enver Lisin continues to be unimpressive. Granted the kid has scored a few goals, but aside from burying a puck that 99 out of 100 NHLers pot easily, he hasn’t really done much to raise your eyebrows. The thing that bothers me the most about this kid, is that he really has superb wheels…a guy that fast should get into passing lanes relatively easily. A guy with those kinds of wheels should be a pest to play against because he gets quickly on top of skaters with the puck causing to make rushes passes or cough up the puck. Lisin just never does that. I rarely observe him making a play that takes a player out of his comfort zone, while a player like Grachev seems to do that at least once a shift. To be totally honest, Grachev’s play should net him a roster spot over Lisin, however Grachev having options, being 19, and having a tremendous amount of upside would be better off in the minors…which is frankly where Lisin should be playing as well if he had options. Another player who has me concerned a bit is Semenov. He looks very much like a 7th defenseman. To be honest he reminds me a little of Strudwick in that he really isnt good at anything, but he isnt really truly awful at anything either….hes just a meh player. The reason I am concerned is that if there are any significant injuries, this is likely the guy who will be playing big time minutes, and I’m not sure I want to see that happen.

Back to the positive end of things, Wade Redden had a very much deserved #2 star tonight, as he played a superb defensive game, making smart little plays, some good passes up the ice, and not making any really egregious errors. However for 6.5 million dollars, a game like tonight needs to be a bad game for him, not a great game. Wade seems to have lost his entire offensive game, which is extremely disconcerting. Even when he is solid in his own zone out there, he looks absolutely lost in the offensive end. Still though, with all that said, after what we witnessed from him last year, a game like this would do him wonders to winning back the garden faithful.

Oh, and Gaborik was Gaborik, hence my clamoring for him for over 2 years now even when he was injured.

Season Preview & Predictions in the next few days, so watch out for it…

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