What is in the water at the Garden?
After taking on Tomas Fleishmann and the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night, the Capitals will travel to (__insert cliche nickname for New York City__) to take on the Rangers Sunday at 7 p.m.. This, NBC, should be must-see TV, because Madison Square Garden has been the site for weird, wild Caps-Rangers hockey the past few years.
Dec. 23, 2008: Fresh off The Nittymakki Game where the Flyers pummeled the Caps 7-1 in Philadelphia, the Rangers scored three goals in the first period then added another one early in the second to go up 4-0. So in five-plus periods, the Caps had been outscored 11-1. Then Alex Ovechkin lobbed the puck somewhere toward Brooklyn, Henrik Lundquist reached out to grab with his glove hand, and the puck squirted backwards like Keith Hernandez's spit in the "Seinfeld" parody of "JFK." The most dangerous lead against the Capitals is a three-goal lead. Goals by Fleishmann, Viktor Kozlov then Ovechkin again tied it up. Then in overtime, birthday boy Shaone Morrisonn -- SHAONE MORRISONN!!! -- ended it with a slap shot from just inside the blueline. This, along with The Kick and The Pick, were saved on my DVR for the longest time (probably deleted it the night I got home from Game 7 against the Penguins.)
April 20, 2009: Not that wild of a game, but after the Capitals dropped two at home to the Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they needed a win. Semyon Varlamov delivered with his first career shutout at the NHL level as the Caps rolled 4-0. I still remember Tom Poti skating with arms raised in triumph as his third-period goal put the nail in the coffin and could almost hear Rangers fans saying "Poti sucks!" through clenched jaws. (Although it didn't happen in New York, Matt Bradley victimized King Henry in Game 5 with two goals, one of them a shorty. This is foreshadowing.)
Nov. 17, 2009: Bradley and Aaron Voros dropped the mittens in the first period, and Bradley went off to the locker room in a bloody mess. With the game tied 2-2 in the third period, who broke the tie? Matt Bradley. Brian Pothier added an empty-netter, but Bradley's goal remained as the game winner.
Feb. 4, 2010: A wild shootout, the teams combined for six second-period goals (after combining for three in the first). At one point, the Rangers converted on three straight power plays -- all unanswered -- to take a 5-3 lead. But that was it for their scoring. Ovechkin scored with a few seconds left in the second period to cut it to 5-4. Poti -- who was probably getting heckled with "Poti sucks!" as he shot -- tied it up a minute into the third period, and Nicklas Backstrom notched the game winner five minutes later. Backstrom finished with four assists -- all primary -- on the night to total five points.
Nov. 9, 2010: The twitter before the game was whether DJ King would suit up so he could fight the behemoth Derek Boogaard. They both got the nod, so how soon until they dropped the gloves? The answer: Never. It was Mike Green and Brandon Dubinsky (both on my fantasy team, so I was doing a fist pump because it was an instant 10 penalty minutes) who went at it. This was after Brian Boyle (?!) had given New York the early lead. After Brooks Laich tied it, Boyle gave New York the lead again after normally steady Karl Alzner whiffed on a clearing attempt on the penalty kill. Then John Erskine (?!) scored his first goal since January to tie it up. Then Boogaard (??!!!!!!) took advantage of a whiff by Tyler Sloan on a dump-in to take the puck on a breakaway (!!!!!!!!) and "Boom-headshot!" the puck past Michal Neuvirth. Never fear, though, Old Man Knuble tied it back up on a juicy rebound from an Ovechkin shot. In the third period, Lundquist's nemesis, Matt Bradley, fired a pass from behind the net that Matt Hendricks put past King Hank for the game winner.
Interesting that all these have come with King Henry in net. I hope for the sake of The Alzner Beards, Martin Biron gets the nod Sunday.