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Rangers-Caps: 5 things we learned in Game 1

Jeff Schultz #55 of the Washington Capitals hits

Jeff Schultz #55 of the Washington Capitals hits Mats Zuccarello #36 of the New York Rangers into the boards in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. (April 13, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

1. 25 shots is not enough

The Rangers did have 32 shots blocked (24 by Caps defensemen), but they have to get more on rookie goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who was solid, but not tested terribly. Particularly in close, the Rangers couldn't find a lot of loose pucks to hack away at, to create at least some chaos, if not good scoring opportunities.

2. Henrik Lundqvist is on his game

He had several game-changing saves, most notably the breakaway stop on Nicklas Backstrom in the second on which Lundqvist squeezed his right pad just enough to turn the puck away from the net as it got through his legs. He got some help from the crossbar twice in the first, but it was all Lundqvist the rest of the way; it took the two most talented Caps a handful of shovel tries to tie it, then an unstoppable rocket to win it. The Rangers need their best player to lead them, and Lundqvist did so last night.

3. The Rangers need more cohesion from the forwards

It's no accident that the Brandon Prust-Brian Boyle duo generated the best Rangers scoring chances with their work in the offensive zone -- those two have been a tandem pretty much since training camp. With Ryan Callahan out, Brandon Dubinsky is struggling to find a rhythm with Ruslan Fedotenko and Derek Stepan -- Dubinsky's failure to find either of his linemates on a three-on-one in the second was a big miss. And Marian Gaborik had some jump with Vinny Prospal and Artem Anisimov, but they were a bit out of sync, so John Tortorella gave Erik Christensen a chance in a familiar spot between Prospal and Gaborik at today's practice. We'll see if that stays for Game 2 and if it works.

4. There may be more to worry about than just Ovechkin

Semin, far more mercurial than his Russian teammate, cracked one off the crossbar in the first and was fairly invisible the rest of the way until he and Ovechkin teamed up for what Semin called "a junk goal." Whatever it was, it got Semin going, and he delivered on the winner after going scoreless in last season's seven-game, first-round defeat for the Caps. Semin, playing mostly on a line with veterans Jason Arnott and Marco Sturm, could give Washington a second forward line that the Rangers need to be careful against whom they send out. It calls for an awful lot of matching lines if there are two Caps lines to account for, and takes the Rangers away from their rotation a bit.

5. Any changes will be minor

Sean Avery may yet sub in for Mats Zuccarello tomorrow night, but the Rangers are primarily going with 10 or 11 forwards for much of the game, depending on whether Christensen or Artem Anisimov gets more time; Chris Drury, who was very good last night in only 15+ minutes, is getting spot duty with other lines and in key situations. So if it's Avery, he has to do a lot with a little time, same as Zuccarello.


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