Wait, there are Americans in the NHL?: Caps lose to Rangers, 2-1.
NBC has decided that hockey needs to be a staple in their sports broadcasting portfolio. To do this they need to bring more Americans into what has been a predominantly Canadian sport. They have taken a note from CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada” and created “Hockey Day in America” (What a very original title). The problem is they have gone way overboard to the point of being obnoxious and possibly distracting to some fans.
The game started well enough with the televised singing of the U.S. National Anthem, but soon went downhill as the announcers tried to point out every single American-born player, as well as making the U.S. connection with all of the foreign-born players by telling us all of the American teams they have played for.
Despite all of the hype and salesmanship, there was actually an important hockey game being played this evening between the Washington Capitals, who are looking to continue their season comeback, and the New York Rangers, the team who eliminated the Caps from the playoffs a season ago. To say there is some bad blood between the two teams would be quite the understatement. These teams have faced each other several times in the postseason, and that has led to some hostility. The hits came early and often as a result.
The big question going into this game was how the Capitals were going to handle the absence of defenseman Mike Green, who was out due to a lower-body injury. Mike Green being out because of an injury is nothing new for this team, as he has missed significant time over the past several seasons with ankle and groin injuries, the latter eventually requiring surgery. What is new this time is that the Caps have the depth on the blue line to make up for his absence.
Rookie Tomas Kundratek took Green’s place on special teams while veteran Tom Poti, back after two years of being on injured-reserve, took the top line spot during 5-on-5s. Both did well filling in, although Poti showed some rust as he neglected to get back in the middle of the second period allowing New York to tie the game at one after Washington had enjoyed the lead for over thirty minutes.
The biggest player affected by the absence of Green was John Carlson, who logged many more minutes in this one than he usually does. He got the game started with an early goal that gave the Caps the first lead of the game, and it was his blown coverage during a third period penalty kill that gave the Rangers their game-winning tally.
Though the Capital’s ended their three game win streak with this loss, it was another step in the right direction. The team seems to finally be gelling as a unit and settling into their new coach’s new system. Rookie goalie Braden Holtby also proved that he is the true number one for this team making a total of 39 saves, keeping the game close throughout.