The Rangers were relentless. Time and again in the first 10 minutes of Monday’s Eastern Conference semifinal game with the Capitals, a defenseman would chase a puck behind the net and get plastered to the end boards. Washington’s Mike Green seemed to be a target. He usually is for teams hoping to wear him down in the playoffs and a shaky first period showed New York’s plan was working well.
Eventually, Green, defensive partner Roman Hamrlik and top pair John Carlson and Karl Alzner adjusted. The puck moved out of the defensive zone quicker and the Rangers forecheck grew less ferocious – though still formidable, especially when the Madison Square Garden crowd started roaring in support of their team as they pushed for the tying goal in the third period. In the end, Green played just 18 minutes, 14 seconds – after seeing 8:29 in the first period alone.
"Our “D”, credit to them, held in there and did the job. I mean, Mike [Green] took a lot of hits in the first period,” teammate Brooks Laich said. “Even in the second, [John Carlson and Karl Alzner] were out there for some long shifts. But they got the job done ultimately. They got pucks out. We had to take icings, but we won faceoffs and got pucks out and survived. I thought our d-men did a good job living to fight another day in certain situations.”
“They came pretty hard,” Washington coach Dale Hunter added. “They kind of surprised [Green] a couple of times with some big hits, but I thought [Green] settled down in the second and third and had a better rest of the game.”
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