One down, three to go.
I'm still here D.C., listening to Pandora Radio, and jumping on a plane to Buffalo (where I'll hear some wings calling) in the morning. Then it's on to Winnipeg and finally to Pittsburgh.
We sail on. Checked the weather and no blizzards in the forecast this week. Also changing planes in Minneaplis and Chicago on this journey. Glad I have a new book (State of Wonder) and music to pass the time.
Here's my game story (some bits may have been trimmed to fit in the paper, an occupational hazard). I wanted you to read the whole thing, and there's a notebook/sidebar on McDonagh and other quotes on newsday.com as well (and a link on Twitter)
Rangers have an off day/travel day tomorrow. Will be in touch along the way....
In Brian Boyle’s mind, the year started Sunday.
“I tried to start a new season basically,” said Boyle, the 6-foot-7 Rangers center who hadn’t scored since the playoffs---a 33-game stretch---and was firmly in the doghouse owned by coach John Tortorella, who said Boyle needed to do “everything better.”
Tortorella, who benched Boyle against Ottawa on Thursday after sitting him for three games last month, gave him another opportunity against the Capitals, and Boyle responded. His second-period goal proved to be the game-winner in a 4-1 victory at Verizon Center in which backup goaltender Martin Biron, another player given an opportunity, responded with 28 saves.
“I tried to put myself in positions to do the things that I can do well,” said Boyle, who hit the post just before he cranked a low, 40-foot slapper past Braden Holtby’s glove on a delayed penalty to Alex Ovechkin to snap a 1-1 tie at 10:53. “I had a long talk with Sully (assistant coach Mike Sullivan) about a lot of different things. I know what I should be and what I’m supposed to be. If I’m going the way I should, we’re a better team. I’ve got to be consistent now. That’s my focus.”
It was Ovechkin who had lost his focus, first tripping Ryan Callahan and then holding Ryan McDonagh, and was called for two minor penalties. The first was wiped out by Boyle’s drought-breaker, and 41 seconds later, with the Rangers on a power play, Callahan’s tipped Rick Nash’s one-timer from the right boards, which prompted coach Adam Oates to replace Holtby with Michal Neuvirth. Ovechkin also missed a mid-ice check on Derek Stepan’s first-period goal, a backhanded bank off Holtby’s skate, that tied the game at 1.
Biron, starting his fourth game (2-1-1) was victimized at 2:16 of the first period on a long shot by Steve Olesky, but the veteran netminder was terrific after that.
“I got caught in-between, I thought maybe (Joel) Ward was going to tip it and so I’m waiting,” Biron said. “It was such a slow shot, he swung and missed and I didn’t react to the shot. Not the best way to start a game.”
Biron and the penalty-kill maintained the two-goal margin on a short 5 on 3 near the end of the second period, when he denied Ward at the post. McDonagh, who had two assists, stopped Jason Chimera’s rebound and Biron turned away Nicklas Backstrom.
“He was big on the 5 on 3,” said Tortorella. “When he let the first one in, I was thinking, there could be seven or eight going in there. But in a key part of the game, he made some big saves, and he really does settle a team down. He helps us get out of our zone because he moves the puck so well; so he wins a game, gets Hank (Henrik Lundvist) a day off, I’m really happy the way he rebounded.”
Brad Richards, with his second goal in two games since returning from neck and back soreness suffered on a dangerous hit by Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, put the game out of reach at 18:48 of the third.
Nash and Carl Hagelin each had two assists in the win on the first leg of a four-city road trip, which raised the Rangers’ record to 13-9-2 and their road mark to 4-4-1. They play in Buffalo Tuesday, Winnipeg on Thursday and Pittsburgh on Saturday.
“I thought we played in spurts against Ottawa (a 3-2 loss at home), but had some good minutes,” said Tortorella. “I think we’re beginning to sort ourselves out as far as how we have to play.”