I find it very difficult to draw any conclusions, positive, or negative from this game. Simply put, the Washington Capitals were terrible in their defensive zone. The Oshawa Generals could have put up at least 3 goals against the team we saw today. Washington was guilty of some truly spectacularly bad passes and decisions. Both of Fedotenkos goals were a direct result of bad decisions, bad coverage, and just plain bad defense, as was Brian Boyles goal. The Washington Defense was caught looking all night instead of doing. It wasn’t just on the goals either, the Rangers had tons and tons of chances because of horrendous defensive positioning by the Caps. And still, you’d have to say the Caps badly outplayed the Rangers for long stretches, particularly in the first period, and were only down by 1 goal despite not really showing up for the 2nd period altogether.
This might be an example of take the points and run, because tomorrows game against Philly is going to be a helluva lot tougher. Granted Bryzgalov has not been very good, and also granted that the Flyers are mighty banged up, but that team can flat out play. Giroux is a legitimate superstar, and they still have depth galore.
Getting back to the game, a couple of players stood out. First and foremost I thought Ryan McDonagh had just a superb game. He was faced with having to play AO numerous times and was up to the task showcasing a solid pokecheck to go with some excellent physical play. McDonagh is quietly, before our eyes, turning into a star defenseman. I think within 2 years Ryan McDonagh will be playing in an All-Star game. This kid is truly something special. It’s in all facets too. Offensively he is very smart, defensively he is a rock, in the Neutral Zone he is flawless. Kid is a stud. It doesn’t hurt that he D-Partner, who was amazingly left off of the All-Star ballots, has played some truly spectacular hockey himself. If the rumors are true, that Marc Staal will be good to go sometime in January, this Rangers D could all of a sudden turn from very good, to one of the best in the NHL.
Another standout was Ryan Callahan, who played his usual Ryan Callahanian type game. Hitting, shooting, passing, doing all the little things that Chris Drury was supposed to do, but never really did during his tenure here…not that I’m fixating or anything. Fedotenko also had a pretty good game, although his goals were both gifts courtesy of the Washington defense. Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head for the first period, and you can’t blame him for either of the first 2 goals, though AO’s goal was stoppable, but I think he was a little screened by Girardi there.
Finally I wanted to talk about Carl Hagelin. Boy I loved what I saw out there from the kid. He played a rock-solid 2-way game for 10 minutes, providing exactly what a 4th liner should provide. Speed, physicality, forechecking, defensive awareness. He pretty much played like Ryan Callahan does, but without the hands. Of course, it’s his first game, and I have to admit I’ve only seen Hagelin play maybe 6 games in my life before the start of this years Traverse City Tournament, but if the hands are there, this kid could be something special. You can never have too many players like this, and as I’ve said numerous times, I find no need whatsoever for a goon in the lineup. Rupp isn’t a goon, but if he’s not going to provide some offense, I don’t see the need.