Today was the first match between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers in the 2nd round of the NHL playoffs. The Capitals are riding a huge series win over last year's Stanley Cup winners, the Boston Bruins, and still have one of the most dangerous scorers in the league in Alexander Ovechkin. The Rangers were pushed to the limit by the Ottawa Senators in the 1st round and will need better play from their top forwards, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, to help goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist out. The Capitals knocked the Rangers out of the 2009 and 2010 playoffs, so there will definitely be some bad blood between these two clubs. Goals will be few and far between as both teams play a very defensive brand of hockey.
This afternoon's game was tied 1-1 going in the 3rd period before the Rangers broke it open with 2 quick goals to seal it. The incredible thing and the reason for this standing ovation was that the 2nd goal (the eventual game winning goal) and the 3rd goal was scored and assisted by 20 year old, Chris Kreider. Kreider was a 1st round draft pick of the Rangers in 2009 who has been honing his craft at Boston College. Just a few weeks go, he led the Golden Eagles to the NCAA title and as soon as he was done, signed a 3 year deal to play for the New York Rangers. Many fans, including myself, thought the Rangers would just shelve him and get him up to speed for next season, but on the contrary, Kreider was thrown right into the fire for this year's Cup run. He has handled himself like a seasoned pro so far and today, gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the series. His goal pretty much blew the roof off of MSG and gave the Garden faithful something to cheer about. Hard to believe that he's not even legally allowed to drink. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was this excited about a player that the Rangers drafted.
Here's to a long bright future playing in the world's greatest arena in the world's greatest city! LET'S GO RANGERS!
photo courtesy of espn.com