So, today I wasn't able to watch the game live. I had to listen to a period in the car and later, much later, come back home to watch the rest of it. I just finished a few minutes ago.
The Rangers are up two games to zero!
The Rangers won the game 1-0!?
Look, I'm a Rangers fan so I am completely and utterly thrilled this is the case. But if you told me on Wednesday morning that by Saturday evening the Rangers would be up 2-0 on the Capitals and heading back home for game three Monday night in such a good position, I would not have believed you.
Therefore, I'm stunned.
Very, very stunned.
Stunning me even more than the 2-0 series lead is the final score from today. 1-0. I heard the Callahan goal in the car, fist pumped to myself, and fully expected there to be more goals scored. And yet, apparently, there weren't.
That's kind of why I'm baffled.
That the Rangers were able to hold such an offensive team to such perimiter shots. That the Captials never seemed to look composed. That they really, even though they had 35 shots, didn't seem to put the pressure on.
What's more, I'm baffled because Wade Redden appears to be playing defense - for two games in a row now. Michal Rozsival has a pretty good playoff track record with New York, but even he looks more poised.
Guys like Callahan, with a super sharp game today and the game's only goal, don't surprise me. As the guys in broadcast said, this is been what you have been getting from Callahan since game 1. And I love Callahan for it. Marvelous player and very much deserving of getting a big game winning goal for his team.
Hank does not surprise me either. Well, that'd be a lie. He does surprise me from time to time with just how composed he is. He has an insane sense of focus. I've always admired that of him. His knowledge of the game, the way he analyzes in and out of game, what has happened, what needs to be done, and how he gets the job done. Very deserved shutout by him.
Silently - yes rather silently - Sean Avery has done good things. Antropov too. Betts and Sjostrom. Sjostrom, in fact, showed how he takes after the Callahan mold. Blocking shots, chipping away at pucks, getting injured, but coming right back. More players should be like that.
Thankfully for the Rangers, every player today seemed to have that same sense of focus, determination and sacrifice today. Chipping at loose pucks so that Washington couldn't set up. Blocking others so Hank didn't have to. Hitting a Washington player to take him off his path.
Honestly it was as if they all came together today in cohesion, the type of perfect cohesion that has eluded this team seemingly all year. They fought together, played together, and won the game together.
Even if I didn't fully expect it was possible, it was marvelous to see.
Brilliant game plan by New York. If game one was all about being opportunistic and taking momentum away from the Capitals, I'd say game two was all about the smart little hockey plays adding up and stealing confidence from the league's most dominating player.
Even if the Capitals are not playing up to their strengths or their capabilities - and I'd say they are not - the way the Rangers have stayed composed and accomplished their game plan says this team has come miles from where they were a month ago. That team would have found a way to give the confidence and momentum back to Washington.
So far, they've held themselves in check and have been very, very impressive.
Credit John Tortorella, credit Hank Lundqvist, but credit too, every other guy that has chipped in with a little play, a smart pass, a key contribution, all for the common good of the team. Hockey is a game of sacrifice, sacrificing yourself for the good of the taem. The Rangers certainly did that today.
If they were ever going to come together and play as a team - and all season long we've been waiting for it - I'm thankful we are seeing it when the pressure is greatest and the games count for something real.
Monday night at the Garden should be something to see. I truly can't wait.