Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank you Rangers

So many things to say - but for me it comes down to this:

Thank You New York Rangers.

Thanks for a great season - a big step forward - and the most exciting ride we've had in a long time. We got within 2 wins of the Stanley Cup finals. And in the 4 games we lost to the Devils - we had the lead in one and fought back from multi-goal deficits to tie the other two.

The thing to remember is that - for the most part - we are a young team on the rise.

Next year we can fully expect that Krieder, Stepan, McDonaugh, Hagelin, and others will be better hockey players. And there is no reason to expect any drop off from Callahan, Dublinsky, Lundqvist, Staal, Girardi, ... and so on. You get the idea.

We were one of the last 3 teams standing. Our guys played hockey the right way - tough, selfless, accountable - something we've been waiting for a long time.

So I'm going to try and look past how close we came to beating New Jersey. It's hard - but I'll get there.

I'm going to look at this year as the start of something great.

And to Tortorella and the team I say:

Thank you men!

Let's go Rangers.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Come on guys - Get this One

Friends - a season is on the brink tonight. It's been a great ride - but can the Rangers get it to last one more game?

Look. If the Devils can beat us 3 in a row they deserve to win. But this team - this season - has always found a way when they had too.

It's going to come down to a few things.
1 - Who scores first.

2 - Which Henrik do we get tonight - the all-world King or the lapsing-Lundqvist we've seen at crucial moments?.

3 - Did the Rangers learn that they can score on the Devils by moving forward - more easily than they can beat them by falling back?

Win or lose - these are our guys. This is our team. We go forward - or we go down - together.

We are BlueShirt Brothers.

Let's go Rangers! Get this one!
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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ranger comeback falls short - Devils up 3-2.

Tough, tough loss kids. You want positives? Okay - sure. Absolutely.

Tortorella said it himself: "We played, probably, our best game of the series"

And it's true.

From the 10 minute mark of period one to the 15 minute mark of period three - the Rangers - finally - out shot - out hit - and thoroughly dominated the Devils - outscoring them 3-0 in that span.

They hung together, hung in there, and almost hung a catastrophic loss on the Devils. They came back from 3 goals down to tie the game at 3-3.

It was a great hockey game for what it's worth - with some great and terrible moments.

Brad Richards put the hardest shot on his own goal that I have ever seen in my life. Lundqvist had to make a high save - and he did - but what in the world was Brad doing? I still can't believe what I saw.

We had Callahan knocking the puck in the net (the right net this time) with his skate - causing all of us to contemplate what a "distinct kicking motion" is. Luckily the NHL review team in Toronto loves close games.

We had the fat Brodeur misplay the puck and have it end up in his own net - with help from Gaborik - to tie the score.

And - I have to mention - we had the worst of Henrik Lundqvist when we needed him most. 3 goals on 3 consecutive shots in the first period. Hank? How is that even possible?
And then the crushing number 4 with less than 5 minutes to play. In the end Lundqvist had a 0.750 save percentage - not good enough - but thje Devils did have some "puck luck" as coach Tortorella phrased it later.

Still - when the Rangers attacked - it exposed the Devils weak defense and aging goaltender. And as soon as they tied the score and started tightening their defense - the Devils regrouped and started gaining their advantage again.

Goals for Prust (like that guy), Callahan amd Gaborik. The return for Dubinsky.

But in the end - well, you know.

But if you want positives - 40 minutes of our best hockey of the series. And we're at full strength. And there's that history. The Friday game 6 will be exactly 18 years to the day after our historic game 6 win in New Jersey.

So keep your heads up Ranger Fans. The Devils can't beat us 3 games in a row. We just need to win game 6. And we can.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rupp Punches Marty! (Rangers lose 4-1)

Well, that was pretty bad. The Rangers continued their woeful performance in even-numbered series games - getting blown out 4-1 in Newark by the Devils.

The team scoring the first goal has won the last 12 Ranger games - and when Salvador's shot from the left point went through 6 different screening players on it's way to finding a tiny gap in the King's legs for 1-0 Devils lead, you had the feeling - 4 minutes in - that this one was over.

It was.

Still - we have a nice piece of good news:

Mike Rupp punched Marty Brodeur. I repeat: Mike Rupp punched Marty Brodeur.

In his crease. During the game. And Brodeur - acting or for-real - was rocked by the blow. Best of all - Rupp is a former teammate of Matry's - with his name on the Cup as a Devil.

"You don't like to see that," Devil's coach DeBoer said of the incident - a statement Dave Pucks disagrees with 100 percent. I did like seeing that - it was the rest of the game that I was unhappy with.

The Devil's coach and John Tortorella got into another bench-to-bench screaming match to add to the festive playoff atmosphere. I can easily see Torts and DeBoer dropping the gloves before this is over (not that they wear gloves - but you know what I mean).

Other Ranger high points were few and far between. We didn't let up a goal in the 2nd. And we broke up the fat man's shutout late in the third.

Fedotenko slipped one past the old man at 14:55 - assisted by Delzy and Richards. Too little and too late - but at least the only shutouts in this series still belong to Hank - who stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced for a .896 save percentage.

So now - the Rangers - who have only won 2 or 3 periods so far in this series - have to win a best-of-three game series. With two at home.

Taking a step back - we needed the split in Jersey and we got it. We just need to win game 5 and everything tilts way back in our favor.

Let's go Rangers.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Come On Lucky Seven – Rangers Try (AGAIN) For 2 Game Series lead

As incredible as it seems – the Rangers have had 7 opportunities to take a 2 game lead in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their 7th attempt is tonight. They've failed in each of their first 6 tries.

They led the Senators series 1-0, and 2-1 but lost the 2nd and 4th games. They led the Washington series 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 but each time lost the next game - the one that could have put them 2 games up. And they led the Devils series 1-0 and lost game 2, before jumping up 2-1 on Saturday and setting the stage for tonight's seventh try at a two game series lead.

You can't help but wonder if sooner or later, the Rangers wasting all these chances will come back to bite them. On the other hand – the playoffs have worked out just fine so far – with the Rangers dominating in the odd number games, winning their first two series against Ottawa and Washington, and leading in their third against the Devils.

The Devils have outplayed the Blueshirts for probably 6 or 7 of the 9 periods they've played – but still the Rangers lead the series 2-1 and had a late 2nd period lead in the one game they did lose. The moment to take control of this series is now. The Devils are frustrated – coming off a shutout loss in their own building. This could be our best chance to beat them.

The Devils split with the Rangers at MGS. Can the Rangers sweep the Devils in Newark? It won't be easy – but then again- the Rangers have been doing it the hard way all year.

We'll find out tonight.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Tale Of Two Goalies

Two goalies competed saturday afternoon. One played very well.

The other was perfect.

Through two periods the Devils outshot the Rangers 26-14. And through two both Marty Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist stopped everything that came their way - with the Devils getting more quality chances and Hank matching them with quality saves.

And so - for the third consecutive game - we started the third period tied.

And from there - Hank was unstoppable - unbeatable - and in a zone that I've never seen him in - a man possessed.

And like game one - the Rangers rose up and grabbed it.

The similarities between contest 1 and 3 were eerie.

Girardi scored the first (again). On the PowerPlay the Ranger defenseman got a free shot in the slot. He started from Brodeur's left but shot it to the chubby old goalie's left. Marty had a pretty good look at it - but could not grab it.

A huge goal - the team scoring first have won each of the last 11 Ranger playoff games. And all the Devil's hard work - all their chances - and all of Brodeur's saves - were for nothing - the Rangers had their 1-0 lead with 16 minutes to play.

The Devils tried to rally back - but Hank - with the stick - the body - the glove - the post - and the crossbar - kept the shutout going.

And then - just like game one - Chris Kreider got the Ranger's 2nd goal. This was a big league deflection - a perfect redirect of a a Ryan McDonagh bullet towards the net with 14 minutes to play.

And the Rangers had a 2-0 lead to protect.

And in the end it was - like game 1 - an empty netter that got us to the final score. This time Ryan Callhan - who hadn't scored a playoff goal in a long while - gave the Rangers their final margin.

Henrik Lundqvist - in the biggest games of his life - is playing his best hockey. He handled a Zack Parise 2-on-1 high shot by staying upright and getting the puck with the handle of his stick. And he dove backwards and stretched out the glove to deny Kovalchuk on a breakaway.

Marty Brodeur played well and had a .906 save percentage. Good game. But that doesn't beat the 1.000 save percentage posted by The King.

Outshot 34-24 - the Rangers outhit the Devils 24-15.

Assists for Callahan (to go with his goal), Fedotenko, Richards, Boyle, and McDonagh.

Now - the Devils have to look themselves in the mirror and wonder if they can do better than 3 goals in 3 games. They have to wonder if they can score on Lundqvist. Because they keep outplaying us - but their 40-year-old goalie can beat ours.

And now - the cup is 6 wins away. And - incredible as it seems - if the Rangers win 6 more home games.....

Think about it.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Even Number Game Woes Continue - Rangers Drop Game 2

If you like trends and data mining - the 2012 Rangers Playoffs have been full of goodies for you.

Three times now the Rangers have lost game two after winning game one. For the 6th time in 7 tries the Rangers have lost an even-numbered game.

Of course - the trend has been that we win the series - so let's hope that keeps up as well.

So - again - we've lost home ice advantage and a lot is riding on game three.

And again - we can't do things the easy way.

Kovalchuk scored first in the first - on the powerplay - to put the Devils in front. But then in the 2nd the Rangers scored a pair to take the lead. Staal and then Kreider on the powerplay and the Rangers led 2-1

But the tide turned (I hate when tides do that). Carter - off a deflection at 18:09 of the 2nd sent the Devils into the locjer room tied 2-2. And so - for the 2nd straight contest we entered the third period tied,

This time - unfortunately - it was Clarkson - who broke the tie with one of the best deflections I have ever witnessed. He held the stick at shoulder level - parallel to the ice - and redirected the puck down - off the post - and in past a helpless Lundqvist.

And with that the Devils clamped down and stopped the scoring right there - with the referees helping by basically not calling any more penalties - motivated in part by the incredible occurrence of the Devil penalty box being broken and unusable earlier in the contest.

Marian Gaborik was involved in two memorable if unfortunate sequences. He failed to try and block a shot with his body which led to the Kovalchuk goal. Tortorella benched the Ranger sharpshooter until midway through the third for that omission.

And Gabby was the unwilling cause of one of the best saves the old fat Brodeur has made in years. With the bloated geezer flailing on his stomach, Gaborick got a Richards feed at point blank range and lifted the puck toward the Devil net. From his stomach - Brodeur bent his right knee - lifting the back of his leg in perfect time to make a massively lucky and unlikely save.

With everything that went wrong in Ranger town - we still scored twice and had a lead and a chance to win.

As mentioned - goals for Staal and Kreider. Assists for Richards, Girardi, Stralmann and Anisimov.

Rangers out hit the Devils 39-34, but were outshot 27-25

So we go to game 3 - still just 7 wins from Lord Stanley's cup - but fighting to regain our lost home ice advantage.

Let's go Rangers

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exhausted beats Rusty - Rangers Grab Game One

Another game one - another Ranger win!

Would game 1 versus the Devils favor the Red Hot (but Exhausted) Rangers or the Rested (but Rusty Devils?

As it turned out - the Devils started out hot and not rusty at all. The first period was a bit of a mess for both sides - but in the second - the Devils began getting the best of the action - forcing the puck in the Rangers zone - getting shots and solid chances on net - and looking like the better team.

But nobody told Lundqvist. The great Henrik was magnificent in the 2nd - stopping flurries of shots from every angle. The Devils came away with nothing for their efforts other than frustration and a 0-0 tie.

But - then - like game seven against Washington - the third period belonged to the New York Rangers. Clamping down on the Devils - the Blueshirts allowed just 4 shots on goal. And Hank handled each of them.

So all that was needed was a Ranger goal. They got three.

The first was a perfect pass from Rookie sensation Chris Krieder to defenseman Dan Girardi - who had just coming off the Ranger bench and was unaccounted for by the Devil's defense. Girardi one timed the puck through a perfect screen of four lined-up players. Marty Broeder didn't see it until he looked behind himself into the net. 1-0 Rangers.

Krieder scored the 2nd goal himself - off a nifty no-look pass from Artem Anisimov. Krieder, who was not born when the Devil's goalie first played in the NHL, shot low along the ice to Broedur's left - but the aging netminder was too slow to stop it.

The third and final Ranger tally was an empty netter - and the Rangers had captured their third consecutive game 1 victory in a playoff series.

So far so good. The big question is - will the Rangers take a 2 game lead - something they have failed to do in their 5 previous attempts. In fact - the Rangers are 1-5 in even numbered playoff games this year, losing to Ottawa in games 2 and 4, and to Washington in games 2, 4 and 6.

Wednesday would be a great time to reverse that trend. Maybe for once we can do this the easy way.

(My son Pucks Junior's analysis of the New Jersey Goaltender: "Brodeur is fat")

Let's go Rangers.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Rangers beat Caps - advance to round 3

Can you believe it? Once again the Rangers came up huge in game seven - this time defeating their nemesis team - the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin - 2-1 to catapult themselves into round three.

In the last 4 years the Rangers have made the playoffs 3 times - and Washington had sent them home twice. The last 4 times the Caps faced elimination - they had beaten us 4 straight times.

Could this years Rangers - a One seed - finally send the Capitals home?


It took coaching - grit - goaltending - defense - and conditioning - but yes - the Rangers did it.

John Tortorella's team had played all season to capture the Atlantic division crown - giving them a home game seven and the right, as the home team, to match lines. It paid off quickly as Tortorella sent the Gaborik - Richards - Hagelin line out in the game's first AND third shifts - catching the Caps by surprise. The third shift - 90 seconds in - yielded the all-important first goal for the Rangers.

The speedster rookie Hagelin beat everyone to the puck - crossed behind the goal and made a perfect feed to Brad Richards. With Gaborik creating traffic at the net - Richard's launched a slapper that beat the screened Holtby and gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 1:32 of the first. Richards has been everything we had hoped and more this season - a sniper who can find the net when others can't.

And in game 7 Richards gavew them a lead they never relinquished.

The Capitals threw everything they had at the Rangers in the second period - dominating through long stretches - keeping Del Zotto stuck on the ice for more than 3 minutes of game time - and
pinning the Rangers in their own zone for an 80 second eternity when we simply could not clear the puck.

The Rangers wall of defense - from the forwards to defensemen to Lundqvist - withstood the barrage - and the wall held.

And so - on to the third - with the Rangers clinging for life to their one goal lead. Right around the ten minute mark - the Rangers struck again.

Marian Gaborik - the hero of the 6 period OT winner in game 3 - took on three Capitals all by himself as he stickhandled into the Washington zone and got a shot off at Holtby. A Capitals stick was able to block it - but with all the attention draw to Gabby - no one had covered Michael Del Zotto who had crashed the zone. MDZ had the puck bounce right to him - snapped off a shot in traffic - and Holtby failed to grab it.

2-0 Rangers. With 10 minutes to go.

But you know our Blueshirts. The easy way? Never.

The two goal lead - a rarity in this series - lasted all of 38 seconds before a screened Henrik Lundqvist fail to find a desperate Hamrlik shot and we were back to a one goal lead with less than 10 minutes to play.

The Rangers then had an apparent goal waved off (don't even get me started on the referee concept of "intent to blow" the whistle). And 2-1 it remained.

But - despite the Capitals goal - the real story of period three was how our Rangers rose up and clamped the lid on a potent Capitals team. In the end they allowed only 4 shots on goal in the third. That's just 4 shots from a Capital's team with their season on the line.

Blocking shots and pushing the puck forward - the Rangers kept the pill away from the Caps - and smothered many Capital attempts when they did put pressure on our defense.

So it came down that Hank needed just three saves in the 3rd to nail down the win. And a focused - dominant - Lunndqvist made those saves. As the final horn sounded Hank was exultant - having reached the Eastern finals for the first time in his career.

You have to feel for Holtby. He was every bit Hank's equal in the Capital's net - and quite nearly stole this series from us all by himself.

But the Rangers did win - taking all 7 gmes to do it - and now look forward to round three against the Devils.

8 wins until the cup. Here we go!

Can you believe it?

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Resilient (I wish they weren't)

The Washington Capitals have bounced back to win after a playoff loss 6 consecutive times this year. You just can't beat them twice in a row.

The good news is that the Rangers won't have to.

The Caps won at home, 2-1, on Wednesday to stay alive and knot the series 3-3 with the Rangers.

The Rangers did manage a little last minute heroics - at 19:09 of the third period when Marian Gaborik slkammed one past Holtby with assistance from Stepan and Girardi. But it wasn't enough.

So it all comes down to Saturday.

One game - winner take all. Losewr go home.

And that game is at MSG. The Garden should be rocking.

It will probably come down to who scores first. And maybe Holtby will feel the pressure this time. But don't count on it - he's been a steady rock back there for the Caps so far this series.

For the third time this season the Rangers have a must-win game. The first 2 worked out okay against Ottawa - let's hope they can do this one more time.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rangers Win One for the Ages - Richards Nets Tying Goal with 6.6 Seconds Remaining!

59 minutes and 53 seconds had elapsed with the Rangers trailing the Capitals 2-1.

Brad Richards skated to the left side of a big pile-up at the Capital's net. He shot the puck. It started an improbable journey toward the Capital's goal.

Braden Holtby, the Caps goaltender had been nothing short of brilliant all night - out dueling Hank and letting up a single goal despite a barrage of Ranger chances. And now - in 7 seconds the Caps would be headed home with a 3-2 series lead.

Holtby reached for the puck with his glove - but just missed it. And the black rubber disc rocketed under the goaltender's body - he was on his hands and knees sideways - (what is that - the six hole?) - and the puck continued on it's way past the Caps goalie and on toward the net.

But it still had a long way to go.

A second Capital player, defenseman John Carlson, had slid into the crease behind Holtby - backing him up and serving as a second barrier between Richards and the Capital's net.

Richard's shot was rising - and along with it the Ranger's fragile hopes and dreams of a hockey season. There was a small space between Carlson's arm and his body - the defenseman's 4-hole to use goalie-terminology.

The puck hit the material of Carlson's jersey - we can see it ripple from impact - but the puck - slowed but not stopped - continues it's once-in-a-lifetime journey toward glory.

Go puck, go!

It is now headed directly at the Capital's goal post. It hits the post with an audible "tink" that you can clearly hear on the television broadcast.

And it bounces.....

....IN the NET!!!!!!

Goal! Ranger Goal! Tie game! An unlikely - miraculous playoff goal. 6.6 seconds and the Rangers have tied it.

In my life as a Ranger fan I have never - ever - seen a bigger goal. 6.6 seconds.

And the same double Minor penalty - Joel Ward's high stick that nearly took Hagelin's head off - had given the Rangers a man advantage during the final scramble - and would provide a powerplay at the start of overtime.

For 12 minutes between periods the Garden would not quiet down - and then - Overtime. On the powerplay.

And 1:35 into the extra period - Marc Staal - who had an assist earlier - launched a 55 foot slapshot that Holtby never saw - until he looked behind him into the Caps net.

And the Rangers had the most thrilling, improbably playoff victory of a lifetime.

It has to be devastating for Washington - they had a 2-1 win in their pockets - they were headed home with a 3-2 playoff lead. They had the series won in their heads, But no - the Rangers yanked back the game from the brink - struck back - and won.

Game winning goal and assist for Staal. Goals for Richards and Stralman. And assists for Callhan, Del Zotto, Stepan and Mitchell - who also won the face off before the game winner.

Rangers outshot the Caps 38-18 and outhit them 29-14. Holtby's save percentage was .921 (and much higher after the first 59:53). Hanks was only .889. But with all the games Lundqvist has won for us - we owe him this one - and many more. Hank made many tough saves to keep us in this one.

And so - we head to DC - with a chance to finally get past the Washington Capitals.

We can think about game six - tomorrow. Not today. Today we're just going to feel really good that this team we love won an amazing game - and that all the hard work and blocked shots paid off. The good guys won. Let's be happy about it. Let's go Rangers.

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Capitals Bounce Back - Series Tied At 2

Yup. The hard way. That's how we do things in Ranger-town. For the 2nd time in this series and the 4th time in the playoffs – the Rangers lost a 1 game lead and has fallen from the brink of dominance back into the pit.

The Capitals struck back again, rebounding from their traumatic 6 period OT loss with a 3-2 win at home to know the series at 2 games. So much for momentum and the psychological advantage of that game 3, 6 period OT win. We're back in a dogfight. Again.

In the first, Lundqvist made some amazing saves until the 12:43 mark. Krieder suddenly looked like a rookie playing the second week of his NHL career – giving up the puck to Ovechkin in the Ranger zone. The massive Russian launched a 40 footer at Hank that found the net and gave the Caps a 1-0 lead.

But the Rangers fought back. In the second minute of the second period Anisimov got lose in front – got the puck from Stepan – and buried it to tie the game at one.

But at 11:54 Backstrom gave the Caps back their lead. He was left alone in the slot and Hank couldn't come up with the save.

But our Rangers fought back a second time. At 16:43 Gaborik – who ended the 6 period marathon Thursday morning – went to the net – got the puck and used his lightning fast stick to beat Holtby and tie the game – again – at 2 all.

Also in the second period – Ovechkin left his feet to give Girardi a head shot – that hopefully the league will have something to say about. Girardi finished the game and seems okay. Tortorella, predictably, was visibly furious in the post game interview – lasted about 30 seconds storming out.

But – in the third – the Caps went ahead to stay. On the powerplay with four minutes and 17 seconds remaining – Green – with the slapshot – and that was it.

We outhit the Capitals 33-24, but were outshot 26 to 20. Goals and assist for Anisimov. Goal for Gaborik. Assists for Boyle, Girardi and Staal. 5 hits for Callahan. Dubinsky still out with the foot injury. Lundqvist stopped .885 of the shots he faces and Holtby stopped .900. Close – but we were on the short end. We were 0-2 on the powerplay, and 1-2 on the Penalty Kill – and that was your hockey game. The Rangers again get 2 goals – but unlike game three – 2 goals wasn't enough this time.

Still, we took one of two in DC and regained our home ice advantage. Let's see if the Rangers can win game five this time – because we don't want to be down 3-2 like last time. The Caps are not Ottawa.

We missed our chance to go up 3-1 on the Capitals. Of course – we did go up 3-1 in 2009 - and ended up losing anyway. Maybe this way will work.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Good Morning Gabby! Ranger beat Caps in Triple OT

Wednesday night's game three contest had no winner - until Thursday morning. It took more than 4 and a half hours of real time and 114:41 minutes of game time – but the New York Rangers won the marathon – outlasting a tough Washington Capitals team 2-1.

You can analyze this 100 ways – but in the end the Rangers simply would not let the Capitals score a second goal. Our defense was aggressive and organized – but the Capitals matched us shift for shift. In the end it came down to two very hot goaltenders. Henrik was simply stupendous, making 45 saves to preserve the 2-1 victory.

Captain Callahan got the Rangers on the board first at 6:41 of the second with the Rangers on the powerplay. Gaborik – who would end this game (much much later) delivered the puck to Michael Del Zotto (who had figured prominently in both Ranger goals in game two). MDZ rifled the puck on net – but when the red hot Holtby made the save - the rebound came directly to Callahan in front. The Ranger Captain, with lots of open net to shoot at, netted the puck and the Rangers had the first goal of the contest.

We had a lead to protect – and we did – for four minutes and twenty nine seconds. Then Carlson stick-handled from the left circle across the middle and the Ranger defense slashed at the puck with their sticks. The puck was dislodged from Carlson momentarily – but bounced right back to him. His shot beat Hank cleanly and we were tied at one.

And then - lots and lots of blocked shots and saves.

In the first overtime – a lot of fuss was made about Brian Boyle's rear end – which made an accidental save on a Mike Rupp shot at an open net. Rupp beat Holtby – but not the butt of Boyle – which blocked the shot. To be fair though – the goal might well have been called back because Boyle and his posterior were in the crease before the puck got there. The first OT ended with the teams still tied.

Five minutes in to the second overtime the Rangers - and Dave Pucks – got the scare of our lives. Alexander Ovechkin – the Ranger killer and the man who scored the game 2 game-winner, stole the puck and moved in alone on Henrik Lundqvist. The big Russian shot the puck from point-blank range... and..... The GOAL BUZZER SOUNDED! The siren blasted. The Capitals fans went crazy – jumping to their feet and screaming in victory.

But wait.

Hold on there kids!

The referee is blowing his whistle and waving his arms. The puck is not in the net. Ovechkin hit the post. It hit the post! It hit the post! No goal! No goal! And the Rangers play on!

Ovechkin stood in front of the Ranger net – watching the replay on the overhead screen – until the feisty Prust pushed him away from Hank.

And the game went on with both sides showing tremendous poise, grit, and determination. Great defensive sequences interrupted by great chances – which were each turned away by masterful goaltending. The second overtime ended in a 1-1 tie. There was an amazing and exhausting 5th intermission. The Rangers would a play a third overtime for the first time since the 1970s (and yes – Dave Pucks – who was just a little Pucks back then – remembers that one too.)

And so it was in the third overtime when the fateful contest finally reached it's magic end. Brad Richards fired the puck wide from the left side and it caromed to Girardi – who played it back behind the net. It came directly back to Richards behind the net and he made a perfect pass in front to Gaborik in front of Holtby. The Washington Goaltender was in the process of dropping his leg pads to the ice – but Gabby with the lightning fast stick found the rapidly closing five hole. And so, at 14:41 of period 6, and at 12:15am on a frantic Thursday morning, Marion Gaborik, lit the lamp and scored his first playoff goal since game one of the Ottawa series, giving the exhausted Rangers a much needed 2-1 victory in our nation's capital.

We outshot the Caps 49 to 46. They outhit us 59 to 46 and I'm sure everyone is sore today.

Goals for Gabby and Cally. Assists for Gaborik (the star of the game), Del Zotto, Girardi, and Richards. The kid – Kreider – was minus 1 with no shots on the day but had 2 hits.

Ice times? Don't get me started. 53 minutes for McDonagh led the defense and Richards had 39 minutes on offense.

And it came down – once again – to the goaltenders. Holtby saved 47 shots for a .959 save percentage. An incredible night. But Hank, saving .978 was just a little bit better.

Historic game.  And about time we broke two bad streaks - the Rangers losing streaks in OT and on the road against Washington.  And so – we grab game three – gain back out home ice – and can rest until Saturday. Huge win. The Cup is now 10 wins away. And for the first time this series – the pressure is on Washington.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Brandon Dubinsky was spotted around town a few days ago sporting a medical boot on his right foot. But a report today has him traveling with the team to DC and being boot-free.

Encouraging that he made the trip. But at this point it's All Feet On Deck (which actually makes more sense than All Hands On Deck now that I think about it).

Rangers have not won a playoff game in Washington over the last 2 series and multiple years. This would be a mighty good time to end that streak.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Posts, Cross Bars and Trickling Pucks - Caps beat Rangers 3-2 to tie series

It's never the easy way with our Rangers

Through 2 rounds of playoffs - it is clear that the Rangers are never going to coast to an easy victory. We're going to have to scratch and claw for everything we get.

In round one, when we won the opener 4-2 against Ottawa - we figured - easy series - Rangers in 5 or 6.

But no. We had to win both 6 and 7 to come from behind and get to the second round.

And once again - against the Caps - we grab game one - but fall in game two - at home - 3-2.

The Rangers and Capitals are playing similar games. Defensive - opportunistic - counter-punching.

In game one we had the better goalie. In game two Holtby - and some truly bad luck - did us in.

What bad luck? Del Zotto beat the Capitals goaltender on two occasions only to have the puck clang off the crossbar - or post - and out. And Washington's 2nd goal was a comedy of errors:

Hank slid his stick across the ice in perfect position - but Stralman was trying the same thing from the other direction. Hanks stick hit Stralman - it lifted up and the puck slid under. Still - it was trickling wide right when McDonagh's skate inadvertently pushed it back int he crease and in. Nice double team fellows. It took two of our own defensemen to beat Hank - but it happened and we were down 2-0.

To our credit - we fought back. Brad Richards got a huge goal in the last minute of the second period - and then in the third Michael Del Zotto - who had hit the post earlier - shot a missile on the powerplay that Callahan deflected in to tie the game at 2 in the third.

But then, a pair of Ranger penalties less than three minutes apart did the Blueshirts in. After the first was successfully killed off - Richards committed the 2nd infraction and this time the Rangers couldn't kill the penalty.

Ovechkin got the puck at the point - and fired off a nasty rocket at the screened Lundqvist. Hank never had a chance at this one - it struck the back of the net with more noise than I ever remember hearing before. That puck from our nemisis was deadly - and it game the Caps all they needed to take game 2.

Del Zotto had one more chance at heroics at the end - but he hit the crossbar - and the game ended 3-2.

We outshot the Capitals 28 to 25 and out hit them 45-35. That's our game - but we couldn't close the deal.

Goals for Callahan and Richards. A pair of assists for Del Zotto and singles for Richards and Gaborik.

So it came down to goaltending. Which I'll take in the long run. But last night Hank's dave percentage was just .880, while Holtby was .929. I can't see that holding up over seven games - but last night - with posts, cross bars, and McDonah kicking it in - it was enough to make the difference.

So we head to Washington, knowing we need to win at least one in their building.

Let's Go Rangers.

-Dave Pucks

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