Net Crashing: Capitals vs. Rangers

The New York Rangers’ plan to attack the net following the first three games of the series definitely resulted in some more aggressive play.  Wednesday night’s game saw Brian Boyle head to the penalty box twice for goalie interference in the first period.  The first penalty was called after the 6’ 7, 244-lb Boyle barreled over Michal Neuvirth, shaking up the rookie netminder.  Boyle also took another tumble through the crease in overtime, dislodging the net and giving him some kind of a bizarre blue-paint-hat-trick. 

None of this is a big shock, we’re pretty sure Rangers coach John Tortorella knows where his bread is buttered and will keep ordering his forwards to attack the net, especially Sean Avery.  Knowing how Torts likes to escalate things throughout a series, expect the Rangers’ forwards to play a variation of “How many people can you fit in a phone booth?” in Neuvi’s crease in Game 5.

The Caps’ biggest problem for 2 years was not enough net-crashing, and the guy they got to finally solve that problem, Mike Knuble, got hurt.  Knuble, of course, got hit with a shot on the hand and then scored on a rebound from 3 feet away on the same play in Game 3.  Fortunately, it didn’t slow the Caps down in Game 4 as they scored three of their four goals from less than a foot away.  The other goal was scored on a deflection eerily similar to the play that got Knuble hurt.  In fact, the other players stepped up so well that Corey Masisak called Marcus Johansson “Knuble-esque” after he scored 2 greasy goals.  He could be the next John Druce this spring. 

The net-crashing is working wonders against Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, and the Caps should plan on keeping it up.  Even Alex Semin is getting into the act, though we’re pretty sure Jason Arnott is telling him that chicks dig guys who crash the net.  Either way, it should be an interesting day for the goalies in Game 5.