If the New York Rangers are bothered by Bruce Boudreau’s claims
of dirty play and his disparaging remarks about Madison Square
Garden, they are keeping those thoughts to themselves.
Appearing focused Tuesday as they prepared for Game 4 on
Wednesday night, the Rangers are concentrating on getting even with
the Washington Capitals and staying away from the complaints of
their opponent’s outspoken coach.
”Our mindset is we’re just focusing on what we need to do,
which is playing the right way and getting ready,” Rangers coach
John Tortorella said Tuesday. ”We have confidence in the league
and confidence in the officials that they won’t be influenced by
all the whining going on.”
On Monday, the first of two off days in the first-round Eastern
Conference playoff series, Boudreau claimed the Rangers were
targeting the head of defenseman Mike Green, who missed the final
20 games of the regular season because of a concussion.
He was upset about New York’s tactics in a 3-2 win Sunday in
Game 3 in which the Rangers crashed the net and young Capitals
goalie Michal Neuvirth. Boudreau added in a radio interview that
Madison Square Garden wasn’t all that loud, and that the locker
rooms and benches were ”horrible.”
Boudreau said officials issued warnings during the game, but
then failed to call penalties when infractions occurred. New York
had seven power plays Sunday; Washington had three.
”Our guys would come to the bench and say, ‘They’re warning us
not to do anything. They keep warning us, but nothing’s getting
accomplished,”’ Boudreau said. ”If you’re at home and you warn
your kids not to do something and you don’t follow through with
some punishment, they’re going to continue to do it, I would
assume. That’s how mine were, anyway.”
Boudreau and the Capitals will have to deal with the Garden
again Wednesday. If they come up short, they will head home to
Washington tied 2-2 after grabbing a 2-0 series lead.
In team history, the Capitals are 1-4 in series they have led
2-0. Last year, after winning the Presidents’ Trophy, Washington
was eliminated by No. 8-seed Montreal in seven games after jumping
to a 3-1 series edge.
”This game is really going to swing the series,” Washington
forward Brooks Laich said. ”We could take a stranglehold on it, or
it could be a very long series. We understand it. It’s the same
situation we faced last year. We were unsuccessful last game, so we
have to have a better effort.”
Neuvirth faced 35 shots Sunday and gave up three goals after
allowing only one on 47 total shots in the first two games at
With his coach calling out the Rangers’ fans and putting the
officials on alert for perceived dirty tricks, Neuvirth could have
many other things to deal with beside stopping pucks.
”It was a bad game, tough loss,” Neuvirth said. ”There’s
still a lot of hockey left. It’s all business, and we’ve got to be
ready for Wednesday.”
After playing three times in five days, the Rangers and Capitals
will now have to get used to sitting around. They are finishing a
two-day break, but will then have another before playing Game 5 in
Washington on Saturday afternoon.
Momentum often shifts within a series, and that will certainly
be the case regardless of which team wins Game 4, but it might be
hard to sustain for the rest of the week.
”Can’t do anything about it,” Tortorella said. ”I’d rather
play, but TV kind of rules with that, doesn’t it? Both team will
take advantage. We try to find the best way to use it. We have our
process that we’ll go through. I’m sure they do, too.”
Top-line forward Marian Gaborik holds a lot of the Rangers’
chances to advance in his hands. The purest goal scorer on New
York’s roster was limited to 22 in 62 games in a disappointing and
injury-filled regular season, and he has no points in this
New York’s offensive difficulties are even more apparent because
of the absence of second-leading scorer Ryan Callahan, who broke a
leg in the final week of the regular season.
”I feel pretty good. Hopefully something will get in soon,”
Gaborik said. ”Just got to keep skating and drive the net and be
responsible defensively and create chances.”
Seeing the Rangers grind out a win they needed appears to have
served as a wakeup call to the Capitals, who again posted the best
record in the Eastern Conference (48-23-11).
They know no one will remember their record if they flame out in
the first round for a second straight year. Alex Ovechkin is
already one Stanley Cup title and another finals appearance behind
Pittsburgh rival Sidney Crosby.
Another postseason failure could even cost Boudreau his job.
”They were a desperate hockey team and we didn’t match their
work ethic and their enthusiasm,” Capitals forward Matt Bradley
said. ”There’s really no excuse for it, but it was one game. It’s
not like we played a bad game, we just didn’t play as well as we
”It’s just a matter of getting back to that work ethic and the
good defensive play that we had the first two games and we’ll be
fine. We’re not going to dwell on the last game. It’s up to us now
to turn the tide.”