Sunday, April 29, 2012
Are you kidding me?
I mean, we had pleasant thoughts that Chris Kreider would SOME DAY become the kind of Ranger that would be a top forward on the team
We hoped that Chris Kreider would SOME DAY become the kind of Ranger that would get a pair of game winning goals in the playoffs.
We dreamed that Chris Kreider would SOME DAY become the kind of Ranger that could take over a playoff series and outshine Gaborik, Richards, Callahan, Dubinsky and the rest.
But immediately? In his first 6 games as an NHL player? You have got to be freakin' kidding me.
The NHL season is a marathon. Some players hit the wall at the 20 mile mark – (where are you now Crosby, Malkin, Chara, Spezza, and everyone on Vancouver) and fade away. Well, the Rangers have taken a 20 year old budding superstar, spared him the rigors of the 7+ month regular season, and launched him into the playoffs – refreshed – pumped – confident from an NCAA championship – and jump-started him in mile 25 of a 26 mile race.
All of this is my roundabout way of saying – the kid played good (and well!) in game one:
After a scoreless first period – the Rangers were whistled for penalties to both Staal (holding), and Prust (boarding – a much more manly penalty) and the Caps had a 5 on 3 in the second. Our heroes and Hank weathered the Washington storm and grabbed momentum.
And then – soon after the Ranger Scoreboard showed a live shot of Stepan Matteau who was on hand – Artem Anisimov was behind the Capital net and figured he'd try a little playoff wraparound of his own.
It worked – and the Rangers had a 1-0 lead.
But then – catastrophe: Derek Stepan shot and missed an 11 footer at 19:52. And the puck caromed. Brooks Laich got control and sped a perfect pass to Jason Chimera who – incredibly - Beat Henrik Lundqvist to tie the score at 19:56.
19:56. That's four seconds after a shot by Stepan at the other send of the ice. Four Seconds.
A horrendous turn of events. A classic momentum swing. A massive chunk of misfortune that could traumatize lesser teams, devastate lesser men.
But not our Rangers. These men are tough – and they are led by a warrior in John Tortorella. A lunatic, sure, but a warrior.
And so our guys came out of the tunnel for period three pumped up and ready to go. Derek Stepan – who has played a role in a series of Ranger goals these last few key games, got the puck to Chris Kreider and the rookie was streaking alone in the offensive zone. (“Streaking” as in “moving fast” - he kept his red pants on at all times).
Kreider told reporters later that he pulled up and shot because he was “too tired” to take the puck to the
net – so he shot it in the net instead. But as Braden Holtby hugged the right post – the Ranger Rookie rifled the puck to the Cap's Goalie's left side – finding net and putting the Rangers up 2-1.
And then – just 90 seconds later – Gaborik found Kreider who made a perfect pass to get Richards a path to the Capital's goal. Richards closed in on Holtby from his right as Gaborik cut to the front of the net. The movement attracted the Cap's goalie's attention, and the second he turned his head Richard shot – perfectly – from close in – and the Rangers had their insurance goal.
And that's how it ended – 3-1 Rangers. Only the Rangers 2nd playoff win in 9 tries over the past three seasons.
The other part of this story is – of course – the King in the Ranger goal and the crushing defense in front of him against the Capitals.
Only 18 shots made it through to Henrik – and the Ranger's best player stopped all but one of them for a .944 save percentage. In contrast, Holtby had a terrible game, making only 14 saves, logging a terrible .786 save percentage, and wasting a fine defensive effort by his teammates.
So, Chris Kreider ended up with a goal on a single shot, an assist, and the star-of-the-game honors.
Goals for Anisimov and Richards. And assists for Fedotenko, Gaborik, and Stepan. Ovechkin was held to a single shot on goal.
And so our Rangers are now just 11 wins from a Stanley Cup Championship. They've won 3 straight playoff games. And Chris Kreider – who celebrates his 21st birthday Monday – seems to have suddenly turned into exactly what we hoped he would someday be. But he's done it a whole lot sooner than any of us thought was possible.
Let's Go Rangers.
Friday, April 27, 2012
With everything on the line - in our building - the New York Rangers - with grit - determination - defense - goaltending - and my lucky hat! - hang on to beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 and win the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It has been a while. The last 3 seasons were: 1st round exit - no playoffs - first round exit.
Not this time.
It took all seven games - and required grabbing 2 road wins - but the Rangers finally - finally! - can put the Senators in the rearview mirror and move forward.
It was a tough win - fitting for a tough series. After a scoreless first it was the defensemen - Staal and Girardi - who gave the Rangers a 2 goal lead. And once again Ottawa fought back to make it a 1 goal contest.
On to the third they went. The Rangers were masterful - keeping the Senator's pinned in their own end for much of the period - blocking shots - and making key saves - to hold off a barrage from Ottawa in the frantic final minutes.
In the end Hank was exultant. Our Dark Blue Knight was near perfect - stopping 29 of the 30 shots that came his way for an unreal save percentage of .967.
Craig Anderson - who played the series of his life stopped 27 of 29. A great game - but just short of what was needed. When it ended - Craig initially fled the ice - crushed and inconsolable. He did eventually remember he had to get on the hand shaking line - and returned. But you have to feel for the guy - he was amazing and quite nearly stole this series for the Senators.
In the end the Rangers outshot Ottawa last night 29-27 and out hit them 29-23. We out-shot-blocked them as well by a wide margin.
Assists for Prust, Callahan, Dubinsky, and the resurgent Stepan (who got points on 4 of our last five goals). Chris Kreider looks like a veteran player out there - and Torts has shown that he's comfortable using him in key moments. One tough stretch for Michael Del Zotto who was drawn by the bully Neil into taking a dumb penalty that resulted in Ottawa's lone goal on the powerplay. Hagelin was great for the Blueshirts - his speed on the forecheck a big factor - and his breakout and drawn penalty in the final seconds sealed the win.
And so - the season lives on. We sit 12 wins from hoisting the cup now. And on Saturday we take on our recent nemisis - the Washington Capitals - a team that beat us in 7 of the last 8 playoff games we've played against them.
Well, no one said it would be easy. We have a chance at redemption now.
And - much more.
Let's Go Rangers.
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Thursday, April 26, 2012
When Dave Pucks is not writing to you all - you see - I've got this day job. And the company I work for recently fired it's CEO and we have new executives and there was this meet-and-greet today for a new senior guy.
Anyway - this new senior executive is from a different part of the world and he mentioned that our senior management is taking him to a hockey game tonight - the first hockey gave he will ever see in his life.
So I said, "Hey, I have a Ranger Hat with me today. Would you like to wear it to the game? You can surprise your colleagues with your hockey knowledge".
And sure enough - he said yes.
And so - Dave Puck's lucky hat is heading over to MSG right now. Let's hope it works.
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It all comes down to this.
Will the Rangers be - again - a first round bust - or will they get to round 2 for the first time in Tortorella's run as our coach?
Do we let Ottawa and the evil Chris Neil walk into OUR BUILDING and take our season away by beating us a 3rd time in 4 games in the Worlds Most Famous Arena (in what would be a World's Most Heinous outcome)? Or do we rise up - one more time - and show what the franchise is - who we are - and what is a New York Ranger?
I say the momentum has shifted. The Senators had their moment - a 2nd period lead - in their building - up 3-2 in the series.
Now the pressure is on them - they blew an opportunity - and we seized it. They lost a lead - we came from behind.
Can their goalie - bald headed Craig Anderson - stay hot? Or did his magic evaporate in a 3 goal second period in game six?
Tonight we look for heroes.
Hank. Callahan. Richards. And Gabby - we need you, man!
And Krieder - it's your 5th game as a pro
- but already you are showing some poise that we don't see from some of our Veterans.
And Stepan. He's been up and down but was way up in game six. Go Steps!
And Prust. Our little tough guy. Doing his best to fill Sean Avery's role.
Tonight we look for guts. For glory.
And something I call The Wrath of the Righteous.
No way should Neil be playing after the head shot to Boyle. No way should his kick-in goal have counted at the end of game six. Ottawa doesn't deserve to be here - we have to dispense a little hockey justice - and do it now.
We need to shut him up and shut down an Ottawa team that deliberately lost games to get us as their playoff matchup.
It's all there boys. Win and the season lives on. Lose and you'll have to think about this for another year.
This is our time. Our moment. Game Seven. Let's Go Rangers
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
After the first - I got home and Pucks Junior and I headed over to the Lucky TV - at big screen Sony at Grandma's house - the one the Giants won the Superbowl on - to try and change our luck.
And the Rangers dug deep - came out flying in period two and turned the Ottawa tide.
At 8:55 - on the power play - Brad Richards made a big-time back door feed to Stepan who buried it and suddenly - the Rangers we not shut out - they were tied. And just as suddenly - Ottawa had lost their lead for the first time in the entire series.
And when the Senators tried to strike back it was Hank who stoned them on the doorstep to preserve the tie.
At 17:08 - again with the man advantage - Brad Richards - off a pass from Stepan - was left alone on the right side. He calmly walked the puck in close and fired it past everyone to give the Rangers their first lead since game 4.
And then - the killer. With less than a minute in the 2nd, Derek Stepan - again - makes a perfect pass to the Rookie. Chris Krieder - in his third NHL game - bangs it home from close in on the left side - and the stunned Senators head to the locker room after 2 periods trailing 3-1.
And that's how it stayed for most of the third - until an ugly sequence occurred in the last minute that infuriated Lundqvist, Tortorella, and all of us. During a frantic scramble in front - Chris Neil (who else) can be clearly seen doing two highly illegal things at the same time:
1 - He puts his stick on Hank's hip and pushes Lundqvist away from the puck with it. That's Goalie Interference. But it wasn't called.
2 - He kicks the puck in the net with a distinct kicking motion.
Henrik was livid. The referees deferred to Toronto - where the goal judges watched the same replay we all saw and came to an unbelievable decision:
That's a goal? That's a disgrace, is what that is.
The Rangers held on for the 3-2 win - but the entire organization is deeply angry about what happened. Lundqvist will probably get fined for telling the truth to reporters after the game. Tortorella, who has already been fined $50,000 for speaking his mind about NHL officiating, was smart enough to keep quiet afterwards.
But the point is clear. We're mad. We're infuriated.
And - We're tied 3-3. We're alive.
And it all comes down to a Thursday showdown. The Rangers season again hangs in the balance. But the cup is only 13 wins away now. And the Rangers have home ice and momentum.
And - the Wrath of the Righteous.
Monday, April 23, 2012
The proud tradition of this franchise - and the building they play in. The team that showed us so much this year. Pride. Integrity. Courage - because it takes courage to play hockey the Rangers way - blocking shots with your body.
And the quest for the cup.
It all comes down to one last game.
The regular season is a distant memory. The Atlantic Conference championship bought us a game seven home game that we have to win on the road to even get a chance to play.
We root for this hockey team. We sing the goal song with pride and pleasure. We yell "Henrik" when our star player makes a key save.
We are Ranger fans. We devote hours of our lives to them - aligning our feelings with theirs - tying our sense of who we are with our sense of who they are.
The regular season - as it often is in hockey - is a distant memory. Just a few weeks ago we were battling with the Canucks for the top point totals in the NHL - and getting chased by a Penguin team that looked absolutely unstoppable.
Now the Canucks are gone - and so are the Penguins. Early April casualties of that war of attrition that ends with the Cup Finals in June. And our Rangers are still here. Still breathing. But just barely. They trail 3-2 in a 7 game series with game 6 in Ottawa against a team that has had our number all year and is brimming with confidence - ready to take down the top seed.
The Cup sits 14 wins away - but that doesn't matter now either.
We have skill - but the NHL playoffs isn't all about talent. It's about matchups - strategy - grit - and a certain about luck.
And it all comes down to tonight.
Come on guy. This is a momentum series. We can turn this around. And it starts with a single goal. Rise up boys. Rise up and take it to these Senators - take it to an Ottawa team that tanked at season's end because they wanted to play you. Rise up against the team that injured Brian Boyle. Rise up for Ranger Pride!
Do not go quietly into that playoff night. Rage against the fading of the light! Fight them, boys, fight them. Take it to the Senators. You are the New York Rangers.
You can do this. Make us proud.
LET'S GO Rangers!!!!!
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Sunday, April 22, 2012
Last night the Rangers lost control of a playoff series against the Ottawa Senators that they were twice on the verge of take a 2 game lead. In games 2 and 4 we had, and then lost, leads that would have put us up by two games.
Starting last night;s game at MSG, the Rangers had never trailed in this series, not in games won, and not even in the games themselves. The Senators had leads for a total of, I guess, the 2 seconds of the two overtime wins. All of that has changed now. Ottawa had their first lead of the series last night – and they held that lead – and they won 2-0 on a late empty netter – and the Rangers now trail 3-2 with no margin for error.
The sad part is this – we played well. This is the kind of Hockey the Rangers played all year. They out hit the Senators 41-22. And they outshot them 41-30. That's what we do. We defend and block shots and set up the game so that, in order to beat us, the opposing goalie has to outplay Henrik Lundqvist.
But guess what? That's exactly what happened.
King Henrik had an amazing .966 save percentage, saving 28 of the 29 shots he faced. Great game – more than good enough to beat most teams on most nights. Think of the Flyers-Penguin series – where they are averaging almost 10 goals a game.
But that friggin Anderson of Ottawa is playing way over his head (and standing on it at the same time). The 31 year old bald headed 8th year player stopped all 41 shots that he faced.
Remember Marian Gaborik's 1st period goal in game 4? That was the last one to sneak by Anderson. Since that moment – the Rangers have been held scoreless for more than 115 minutes – 5 minutes short of 2 hockey games.
You can't win if you don't score. What the Rangers must do to remain alive is get one past Anderson and shake his confidence. He's shown that when his confidence is shaken he is a different , and worse, player. The Rangers had a 4-0 lead in game one and 2 quick goals in game 4. So they have to rise up and turn this thing around or they will become yet another 1st round upset victim.
It seems like we have forgotten how to enter the opponents zone. Time after time we were stood up at the line and the puck stolen – or our dump-ins were grabbed and sent out before we could get to them. We look out-coached right now – our top players are silent and time is running out.
We were happy to see a fan sporting a “Free Hags' tee shirt last night – and the Rangers will certainly be glad to get Carl Hagelin back for game 6 after his 3 game suspension. But these playoff series are wars of attrition – and the Rangers have lost a key player – Brian Boyle – to a concussion off a nasty and illegal hit by Chris Neil
John Tortorella spoke up today – asking the league to take action – and comparing the hit was similar to the one by Raffi Torres on Marian Hossa that resulted in a 25 game suspension.
Tortorella said in the postgame: "Well they have the blueprint, It's the exact same hit as Torres' -- a different part of the ice -- but he launches himself, head shot, puck's at the goal line, and he's hit. So, the blueprint's there. I'm sure he's a repeat offender, too. Not much research to be done there."
This is a tough loss because Boyle has been a bright spot in these playoffs - scoring three goals and being one of – if not the- best offensive player on the team.
So we'll need Hagelin back – and we'll need the kid Chris Krieder to keep stepping up and stepping in to the lineup.
And we need it all now – because we're down 3-2 and there is no margin for error. We've seen the Senators respond twice when they trailed in the series – and now we'll see if the Rangers can do the same. It's infuriating – the Senators lost their final games on purpose to get to play us – and their move is paying off. Come on Rangers – we can't go out like this.
Friday, April 20, 2012
In 4 games there have been 45 goals. Go back and read that again. That's more than 11 goals per game on average.
In 4 games there have been 282 minutes worth of penalties. That's in 240 minutes of ice time. How is that even possible?
Both starting goalies are a mess. The save percentages are below 80 percent.
The Penguins won their last game with a Football Score: 10-3. In comparison, Ottawa only has 8 goals in 4 playoff games - and they've won 2 of the 4.
It's one of the strangest playoff series -I have ever seen. And more to come.
Should the Rangers be scared to take on the winner of these two offenses - or psyched to take on their defense?
That's another bucket of ice - right now we have the Senators to worry about.
And I don't know about you - but I am worried.
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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Again the Rangers grab a lead and try to grab a two game lead in the series. And again the Senators rally back to tie and again they beat us in Overtime.
The record book tells us that the last seven times the Rangers have gone to Overtime in the playoffs - they have managed to lose them all.
So I gotta say - I really miss the regular season where we had shootouts instead of just OT. We didn't win all of those - but at least we won sometimes.
Twice now we were one goal away of putting the Senators in a 2 game hole - and twice they have crawled out of that hole to tie the series.
It certainly started well for the Blueshirts as we scored twice in the first period - both on the powerplay - Stralman and Callahan - and shut Ottawa out in the first period.
At that point - after more than 80 scoreless minutes - the Senators struck back with a vengeance. In the 2nd period they got 2 powerplay goals of their own to tie the contest up. From there we had a scoreless third and, well, you know the rest.
Tough game. Many good things - but not quite enough. They kept our sudden superstar Brian Boyle off the board. And you know - the Rangers have won on effort all year. So in the playoffs - when everyone turns it up a notch - do we have another notch to turn up to?
What we do have now is a chance to rest. The Rangers get an extra day - not playing again until Saturday night. It's a 3 game series now. We know Lundqvist can play big as the pressure builds. Can Anderson?
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012
And there was a wild one in Newark last night. First, the Devils jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first 6:16.
Then - the Panthers benched their goalie. Jose "Three-or-more" Theodore, and replaced him with Scott Clemmensen.
But the fun was just beginning. The Panthers then scored twice on the powerplay without giving up a single shot on goal for the rest of the first period to cut the deficit to 3-2.
In the first two minutes of the second period the Panthers scored again - their 3rd goal in 12 shots and guess what - the Devils benched Marty Brodeur!
Hedberg came in and posted a .929 save percentage - but it wasn't quite enought.
The Panthers went on the powerplay a third time - and scored a third time - to take a 4-3 lead into the third period.
In the third both backup goaltenders were perfect - and so the Devils had a catastrophic fall-from-in-front home loss to put them behind 2-1 in the series.
It's the feel-good story of the day.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012
But guess what? We won.
And there's just one reason:
Hen-Reek! Hen-Reek! Hen-Reek!
Ranger goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was the difference last night - outclassing the red hot Anderson who stopped 22 of 23 for a .957 save percentage. A great night for the Ottawa goalie - but not great enough against a perfect King.
To put this in perspective - in another playoff series this year the Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery has saved less than 80 percent of the shots he's faced. If Hank had done that last night we would be looking at an 8-1 loss instead of a shutout win.
39 shots. And Henrik was perfect.
The Rangers rallied in front of him - playing defense, blocking shots, and keeping the puck out of the defensive zone as much as possible. And towards the end of the third it was the Senators that looked tired, frustrated, and in the end, beaten.
The Rangers only needed one goal last night - which is fortunate because that is all they got.
One lucky bounce off the lively Ottawa boards to Anderson's left put the puck right on the doorstep for Brian Boyle. And the unlikely offensive MVP for this year's playoffs scored his third tally of the series - that's 3 of a total of 7 Ranger playoff goals - to give the Blueshirts their entire offense for the night.
So after two scoreless periods - after Boyle's 3rd period goal - the Rangers settled into what felt like a 12 minute penalty kill. In game 2 the Rangers couldn't hold the lead - but last night on the road they could and did.
Huge win. Ottawa now has to win game 4 at home Wednesday to avoid a 3-1 deficit. The Rangers recaptured home ice (in a series where the home team as lost 2 of 3) and just need 2 of the next 4 to advance.
The game started slowly - looking more like a regular season battle than playoff intensity hockey - but heated up as the game progressed. Chris Krieder, the rookie pressed into service due to Hagelin's suspension, saw his first NHL action, had some rough edges, looked pretty good and nearly scored a goal.
But the glory belonged in small part to Boyle and in large measure to the King. Is there any other NHL goaltender you would want right now in the Ranger net? Hank's our best player and he's playing his best hockey at the perfect time.
He's in the Senator's heads - and in our hearts.
Go Henrik - and Let's Go Rangers.
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Monday, April 16, 2012
Hagelin's explanation is the Alfredsson lifted his stick as Hags approached, prompting the Ranger rookie to lift his hands to defend himself. Alfredsson and Hagelin are fellow Swedes, Carl likes and even admires the older fellow NHL player and texted him an apology.
Still the league has to look like it is trying to stop head injuries. The NHL Brandon Shanahan explains the penalty like this:
"After Alfredsson chips the puck up the boards, Hagelin continues on his path, and finishes his check with his arms up high, recklessly striking Alfredsson in the side of the head with his elbow," Shanahan said in a video outlining his decision on the league's website. "This hit is a clear violation of what the NHL rules as elbowing.
"It's important to note that while Alfredsson saw this hit coming and braced himself for it, in doing so he not significantly changes the position of his head. Also, although Alfredsson's stick briefly comes up prior to contact, we do not feel this was a reasonable excuse for the elbow that took place."
Brandon! And to think we used to root for you. The Rangers released their own statement in protest:
"The New York Rangers accept the NHL's three-game suspension of Carl Hagelin and will not pursue an appeal. However, we are thoroughly perplexed in the ruling's inconsistency with other supplementary discipline decisions that have been made throughout this season and during the playoffs. We will have no further comment on this decision."
Okay - so what do we do with our top line for game 3, 4 and 5?
I don't pretend to understand John Tortorella's mind (although I think that it's always a safe bet to say he's angry about many things all the time). But I think he should do this:
Move Brandon Dubinsky to the top line as a reward for his heroics in protecting a defenseless Brian Boyle (who was face down getting pummeled on the ice).
And then insert Chris Krieder in Dubi's regular slot. Putting Chris into this series when he hasn't played a single shift in the NHL is like throwing a non-swimmer in the deep end of the pool - but putting him on the top line is like throwing that same non-swimmer over Niagara Falls.
That's my two cents. But we'll see what Tortorella and the Rangers do tonight. We've seen the Philly-Pittsburgh series deteriorate into a war (that Crosby is losing 3-0) - and it appears Rangers-Senator is headed down that same violent path.
John Tortorella's personal response is that the Rangers will not be making adjustments based on the leagues ruling - but rather, playing hockey they way they believe they have been all year. "We are who we are," the defiant Ranger coach explained.
At the moment they are a number-one seeded hockey team who just lost a home game in the first round of the playoffs. Of course - anyone who expects either team to go quietly from this series - has not been paying attention.
Game three in Ottawa tonight should be something.
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Sunday, April 15, 2012
The Senators have never been on the Rangers hit list (and you can move the space after the “s” to before the “s” if you get my meaning). But they are now.
This game got nasty early and worse as it went along. Brian Boyle was targeted by the Senators to recieve numerous hits – both legal and otherwise. And when Dubinsky came to his rescue he was ejected with a game misconduct. Hagelin may be suspended for an elbow he landed at the Senators captain's head – sending Anderson out of the game for the duration.
The action was fast and the players often furious as both sides were hitting and playing the game at hyper speed. This is playoff hockeyis when the two teams don't like each other. It's exciting and a little scary to watch – I can only imagine what the newest Ranger Chis Krieder is thinking as he watches the action from the bench.
The 5 minute major resulting from Hagelin's elbow resulted in a 5 minute PowerPlay – which the Ranger's nearly escaped from – but Michael Del Zotto got too cute with a centering pass. He tried to direct it away from the net with his skate and ended up defecting it past Lundqvist for a 1-1 tie.
But when boyle scored early in the third – it looked for awhile like the Rmagers would win 2-1. They got 5 minutes from it – but could get no further. The Senators tied it – and then won in the 2nd minute of overtime.
The Rangers were outshot 32-29 and hits were even at 30. Both teams were 1-4 on the powerplay. Henrik stopped .906 of the shots that came his was – but was bested by Anderson who posted .931
Goals for Stralman and Boyle – assists for Del Zotto, Anisimov, Fedotenko, and Girardi. Richards was -2.
All that work this season in getting home ice is gone. If the Rangers want to see round 2 they are going to have to take a game in Ottawa – and they'll get their first chance Monday night.
And, so, joining the Islanders, the Capitals, The Devils, the Penguins, the Bruins and the Flyers, the Rangers have added a brand new team to despise.
Welcome aboard Ottawa. We'll see you Monday.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
You need it in the playoffs. And, for one game at least - the Rangers have it.
Ottawa - it appears to me - deliberately tanked their last two games to drop to the 8th seed and take on a Ranger team that they had beaten in three of four regular season contests.
Talk about a lack of respect. Well, they wanted us - and they got us.
Just be careful what you wish for, Ottawa. The Rangers took advantage of their home ice advantage to stop the Senators 4-2 and capture the first of their best-of-seven series.
It was the usual suspects who played big and took the game over.
First - who else? - Captain Ryan Callahan got the Rangers on the board. Grabbing a rebound off Anderson (from an Anisimov shot) Cally eluded defenseman Kuba (Cally Si! Kuba No!) and beat Anderson to get the Rangers on the board at 7:59 of the first.
And the game stayed 1-0 for a long time.
Ottawa frankly started dominating in the first half of the second period - but the Rangers - led by superstar Henrik Lundqvist - fillibustered the Senators and refused to let them tie the game,
After back-to-back icing whistles - John Tortorella wisely called time - to rest his players and aggressively implore them to retake the momentum.
Good advice - well played by Torts - and it worked.
As the 2nd period wound down - the Rangers surged and the tide was turned.
First Marian Gaborik got the puck in deep on a two-on-one and made one of those plays that only The Gifted One can make.
Alone on Anderson he skated in front of the net and faked... and faked.... and waited. The moment Anderson kicked out his legs - Gabby rifled it 5-hole to make it 2-0.
Late in the 2nd it was the red hot Brian Boyle - who has been money ever since Hockey Rodent called him a liability - who netted the Rangers another for the (dreaded?) 3 goal lead.
On to the third they went and in the first 3 minutes it was Brad Richards - the Ranger key off-season acquisition - who found the net for his first Ranger post-season goal and an insurmountable 4-0 lead.
The Senators refused to stay vanquished, however and did strike back - breaking Hank's shutout midway through the 3rd and adding a second goal in the last 3 minutes to make is a more respectable 4-2 loss.
And that's how it ended - the Rangers holding serve - striking first - and getting off on the right skate.
It's just one win - but it's a start. 15 more and we hoist the cup!
- - - - - -
And I gotta say - way to go Flyers! The Broad Street Bullies - who I dislike - are really sticking it to the Pittsburgh Penguins - who I REALLY dislike. For the 2nd straight game Philadelphia has overcome an early multiple-goal deficit to stun the Crosbys on their home ice. It's 2-0 Flyers now with 3 of the next 4 contests in South Philly. Just two weeks ago Pittsburgh looked unbeatable - until the New York Islanders of all people - exposed them - and now the Flyers are doing the same. With Sidney Crosby miserable this is the feel-good story of the year.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012
After one playoff game the answer is YES - the Flyers can.
Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers expensive, inconsistent, and extremely odd goaltender stirred up some interest before the game by saying that he was not afraid of the Penguins – and that the only thing he was afraid of was "bears in the forest" (I wonder if Bruins would qualify?).
Sure enough – several Pittsburgh fans showed up to the game wearing Bear Costumes. Bryzgalov, seeing his worst nightmare, responded by surrendering 3 first period goals – including a demoralizing tally in the last 37 seconds.
In the first intermission his teammates must have explained to Ilya that the bears in the stands were not real bears – because from the second period on he was perfect in net – and now it was the Penguins turn to be scared as the Flyers came roaring back.
After the first intermission it was Marc-Andre Fluery of the Aquatic Fish who started giving up goals. The Fly-boys tied it 3-3 and got the game winner in overtime.
And so, this morning Sidney Crosby (a goal and an assist) wakes up to find the Stanley Cup Favorites down 1-0 in the series. Can anyone beat the Penguins? So far – the answer is a resounding "Yup!"
And now the real deal: Tonight all eyes turn to MSG as our Rangers start their series with Ottawa.
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Sunday, April 8, 2012
Our basic stats match up to Ottawa like this:
Penalty Kill: Us 5th at 86.2, them 20th at 81.6 - Advantage New York
We score a half a goal a game more then we let up. For Ottawa that margin is 1/10 of a goal.
16 wins and we raise the Cup!
Here we go!
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
The New York Rangers have clinched first place in the NHL East. They have home ice advantage for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs.
It took 80 games of an 82 game season. And it was a wild game that put us over the top. The Rangers came into Philly having won all five of the teams previous meetings - including the Winter Classic win. And the Flyers are still trying to get to 4th place and home-ice advantage against the Penguins - their likely first round opponents.
The Rangers, after a flat performance Sunday night (attended by Dave Pucks and Puck Junior) came out flying Tuesday night. They scored twice on their first 11 shots - paused to get hammered physically in a pair of fights (former Ranger Jody Shelly besting Mike Rupp in one) - and then scored twice again for an unlikely 4-0 lead. Hanks was brilliant - again - stopping everything Philly shot at him.
Then it got interesting. In the second period the Flyers tallied to make it 4-1, watched Marian Gaborik bring the dagger for a 5-1 lead in the last minute of the 2nd, and then, incredibly - the Flyers struck back at 19:53 to cut the lead to 5-2
In the third the Broadstreet Bullies got to 5-3, but could get no closer as Lundqvist held them off.
The Flyers out shot us 40-24 (and that's after we blocked 20 shots). They out hit us 39-31.
A goal and an assist for both Gaborik and McDonagh. Two assists for Richards.
Lone Ranger goals by Anisimov, Callahan, the surging Boyle.
Single assists by Feds, Dubi, Stepan - and three defensemen: Staal, Stralman, and Girardi. So with Rayn McD's night there were 4 blue liners getting points.
Henrik Lundqvist was again the difference. Despite getting outshot - te Ranger Goalie saved .925 percent of the shots he faced - winning the game for the Blueshirts.
Coach Tortorella put Dubinsky up on the Richards-Gaborik line for a while. He may just have been mad at a penatly Hagelin took.
And so - the Rangers made it a clean sweep of the ice - beating Philadelphia in all 6 of their contests this year. Goodbye Flyers and we sincerely hope to see you again in the playoffs (for a lot of reasons).
And so - with 2 games to go - here we are - on top of the East to stay.
Expect Tortorella to rest Lundqvist when the Rangers take on Pittsburgh Thursday.
And start thinking about the playoffs!!!
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Sunday, April 1, 2012
Unfortunately, this was the only imperfection from the man who refused to meet Obama. He saved over thirty shots from a resilient Ranger team that refused to quit.
We had some rare chances that produced some "OH's" from a dazed MSG crowd, but ultimately came up short. However, the Rangers never gave up, baraging the Bruins with their forecheck in the final minute of play, and played for pride, one blueshirt dove to prevent an empty net goal with 2 ticks left after all hope had been lost. So yeah, we lost a virtually meaningless game in a rare outing in which the King was outplayed, but that's OK. We'll bounce back and (hopefully) we will see them again.
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using two goalies in the playoffs is one all to familiar for the flyers in the playoffs. when you sign a number one goalie like ilya bryzgalov who has really just found his game, and a comfort zone in the last month is it more important to get him off and running,or do you take advantage of the goalie who is a perfect 5 and 0?
i'm interested in what you hockey fans are thinking. if you were coach peter laviolette what would you do? thanks
it's time for the nhl to take another look at the playoff breakdown.their should be a balanced schedule played in each conference with the top 8 teams from each qualifying for the playoffs.1 playing 8 and 2 playing 7 ,and so on.this would reward the best teams with home ice advantage in the first round which is exactly what the rangers , flyers,and pens deserve. instead 2 of the best 3 teams in the conference will work on eliminating each other right away.
this should not happen in the first round the league is totally based on a points not win system so it's time mr. commissioner to reward the teams with the most points ,and not have the sixth place team in the conference with an easier draw in the playoffs than those who would be second ,and third in overall point totals.
And - as the Rangers look down on these two teams who trail us in the standings - one amazing fact emerges:
If the Penguins lose today - in regulation OR overtime - then an amazing thing happens tonight:
The Rangers will only need to win tonight at home against the Boss-Town Bruins to clinch first place in the East! That's right - the BlueShirts could take the ice tonight with a chance to clinch home ice through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
And - Dave Puck and Pucks Junior will be there to cheer them on.
So - for the 12:30 game we find ourselves say
"Let's Go Flyers". (But just for today)
Which reminds me - my BlueShirt Brother-In-Law J. McFly has joined the team here and will be periodically reporting on the NHL in this blog. Welcome aboard McFly - and we're all Flyers fans (between now and 3pm.)
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