OK, so it wasn’t exactly Michael Jordan-Larry Bird made for television, circa 1993.
For the record, Capitals defenseman Mike Green did not call his bank shot pass to Alex Ovechkin for a power-play goal in Thursday night’s 3-1 win over the Rangers in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
It would have been pretty cool, though, if Green told reporters on Friday that, yes, he meant to shoot the puck “off the expressway, over the river, off the billboard, through the window, off the wall … nothing but net.”
Instead we heard this explanation.
“I intentionally shot wide to miss the blocked shot, but I was just trying to put it on net,” Green said. “Maybe hit [something] and bounce out [to Ovechkin]. I missed.”
So much for legendary playoff tales.
Green’s miss resulted in Ovechkin’s make, but is also highlighted the need for the Capitals to find alternate routes to the rangers net, a route that is almost always blocked by New York penalty killers Dan Girardi [4 blocks], Ryan Callahan [3 blocks] and Derek Stepan [2 blocks].
“There are only a select few teams that pressure that hard,” Caps right wing Troy Brouwer said. “They’re desperate, diving all over the middle of the ice. It’s a different look we’re not used to seeing and we have to patient.”
Capitals coach Adam Oates instituted the Caps’ 1-3-1 power-play formation to allow multiple options. With Nicklas Backstrom on the halfwall, Mike Ribeiro at the goal line and Mike Green at the right point, the Caps have three players who can distribute the puck to Ovechkin and Brouwer, or find a shooting lane if one presents itself.
“They’re our quarterbacks, the puck goes right back to them [if there is no shot],” Oates said. “The quarterbacks get the ball all the time. The Rangers, [blocking shots] is one of their strengths.”
Backstrom seemed surprised by the Rangers’ aggressive penalty kill in Game 1, committing two glaring giveaways early in the game. But he said the Capitals can capitalize on that aggressiveness by moving the puck quickly for open shots.
Reinforcements for Rangers?: The Rangers are hoping to get injured forwards Brian Boyle [right leg], Ryane Clowe [undisclosed] and Derek Dorsett [broken clavicle] and defenseman Marc Staal [eye] back in the lineup at some point in this series. All four players skated on Friday. It appears Boyle and Dorsett are the closest to returning to the lineup, although Clowe seems anxious to push the process as well.
Rangers coach John Tortorella seems just as anxious to get some reinforcements.
“If we don’t win, we’re done,” Tortorella said. “So I don’t give a damn about the conditioning. If I think a player is gonna help us, he’s going to play.”
Look for the returns of any of those players to be a 12:30 game-time decision on Saturday.