Monday, March 9, 2009

Beating the Bruins

Big win, needed it, now 3 in a row. Gotta get a nice little 9 out of 10 going.

Hank was strong again, gave up 2 goals in a 2 minute span in the third, but I credit that with lax defense mainly.

1) No idea what redden is thinking. He has a man in the corner, with no angle on hank, let him take that shot, it has no chance. But instead, he has his stick covering the shooting lane, and leaves a passing lane to the middle of the ice wide open? Just an awful idea. It'd be like in hoops if you had a guy trapped in the corner, and positioned your body to keep him from going out of bounds rather than cutting off the clear passing lane back to the center of the court. That's a pretty big foul up for a veteran defenseman that led to a one timer from 8 feet out in front of the net, and the tying goal

2) And NBC highlighted Andropov as doing this, but multiple Rangers forwards in the third got very careless with their defense. Andropov wasn't taking care of his area of the ice, and was just skating around chasing the puck, leaving large areas wide open. I don't know how the rangers can leave Chara, the only guy with a legit slap shot on the bruins (who also might have the best in the NHL, certainly the hardest), wide open and give him 20 feet of room in every direction to rip 100 mph shot on hank. A pretty shaky defensive third almost cost them.

But I did like that they were very aggressive even when they had the 3-1 lead. Part of the Renney era was sitting back, little to no fore-check, and just looking to keep the puck out of their zone. (In fairness to Renney, they did end up winning most of their games) But when a team was able to come back and tie, you knew the game was over because the rangers had been back on their heels for a full period. Not to mention they used this technique even when they only had one goal leads, with more than ten minutes left.

Torteralla seems pretty relaxed, but also like he is getting the guys to play real hard. They have definitely crashed the net more in these last 3 games then they had in any 3 game stretch all season. And the end result, thanks to some horrific goal tending by fernandez today, is 14 goals in 3 games. (Normally when NBC spotlights a guy they get overly dramatic or exaggerate how bad or good his play is, but they were right on with fernandez. He was in such horrible position most of the game, and he was jumping around all over the place, allowing rebounds and open nets. The announcers got it right when they said he looked "like a rec league goalie")

Anyway, 14 goals the last 3 games, 3-0-0 record (6 points out of a possible 6)
13 goals the prior 8 games going 1-4-3 (5 points out of a possible 16)
Moral of story, crashing net is good, scoring goals is good.

Also, the power play, while not all there yet, does look a lot better. (Not to get on redden too much, but he still is a non-factor on it. He is sitting out at the blue line, right on the blue line, on the left side of the ice, doing NOTHING. He doesn't pinch in, he is in no position to score from there, and for anyone to reach him with a pass they have to throw it all the way across ice, through lanes where defenders most likely are, and if he doesn't handle it perfectly, since he is on the blue line, it will pop over and go out of the zone) They are now around 23% on the power play under Torterella in 5 games, compared to around 14-15% prior.

Hank with 36 saves deserved a win, good to get him one.

And the Avery factor, I thought he played strong (especially given he doesn't have his legs back yet), and had a couple of bursts of speed that led to some nice chances. The call in the last minute on the interference maybe was legit, but rider did the EXACT same thing, except more flagrant, to Gomez 3 minutes prior and nothing was called. I don't like when the refs take the game into their hands, that call should not have been made, or you have to make the Gomez call also, can't only have one. Regardless, now 2-0-0 with Avery, and 52-23-13 with Avery as a ranger.

Looking ahead, tomorrow at Carolina is an ENORMOUS game. Then they have a stretch where the final 14 games they play Philly FOUR times. The big mark the calendar stretch is March 28 to April 12. Over those 15 days the rangers have away games at Pittsburgh, Boston, and Carolina (places they have had trouble winning these past two seasons. Home games against New Jersey and Montreal (two teams they have not played well against this season), and then they finish the season with a home and home against the flyers, the back end being in Philly. That's 7 HUGE games in 15 days. And the way the standings are, barring pretty big slumps from the top 3 teams in the east, you have to think those positions are set. But the rangers could easily end up as the #4 seed and have home ice in the first round, or they could end up out of the playoffs altogether. Scoreboard watching from here on out:

Pittsburgh, Philly, Carolina, Florida, Buffalo, Montreal and the Rangers. 7 teams fighting for 5 spots.

Penguins playing the caps today, Montreal playing the stars. Both penguins and Canadians are on road. Hope the home teams get the job done (in regulation)


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