Sunday, October 7, 2012

I Miss Hockey

I miss the new York Rangers.  I miss hockey.  I miss Lundqvist.  And Gabby.  And Girardi.  And all of the guys.  Even crazy Tortorella. 

Come on Gary Bettman.  Fix this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Nash will be BlueShirt Smash - Rick is a Ranger!

A Ranger who Scores Goals - why didn't I think of that?

Yes, I was there in February.  Dave Pucks and Pucks Junior were among the faithful at MSG in February chanting “We Don’t Want You” at Rick Nash when he scored that game-tying goal in to send the game into Overtime.

But that was then – and this is now (as Micky D once sang)

And today, brothers and sisters, I am one happy Ranger fan.  Happy that Rick Nash, the two-time 40 goal scorer, is here.  Happy that Sather did not give up Stepan, or Del Zotto, or Kreider, or McDonagh to get him.  Happy (and amazed) that Glen “Slats” Sather was patient, smart, and determined to get the right guy at the right price.  It took a while, but we kept our youthful core and didn’t even take on salary.  I have to tip my cap to the old man – he made a great deal – and remember – this guy works for James Dolan (the guy that dumped Linsanity - and do not get me started on that).

What are we getting in Rick Nash?  A 28 year old former first rounder who has averaged 34 goals a season over the past 8 years (that’s better than Gaborik over the same span).  A former team captain with leadership skills and 323 assists to nearly match his 324 goals.  An all-star who can score – a missing piece of the puzzle that kept the Rangers from winning the cup last year. 

There are nay-sayers (I hate those guys) who will point to Rick’s stats and say he’s declining.  I would look at the team he came from – the Blue Jackets were a last place club – cutting salary and rebuilding.  Nash – the lone scoring threat – was the focus of opponent’s defenses.  And it’s natural to get demoralized when the team around you can’t deliver.

Under Tortorella – on a team that got within 2 games of the Cup Finals – in a media center like New York - we’ll see a revitalized Nash who will redouble his efforts and revitalize his career.

Remember – Nash had a no-trade clause.  He wanted to come here.  And we got him.

And what did we give up?

We love Brandon Dubinsky.  He loved being a Ranger.  He showed effort every night.  But his career derailed last season – and while so many of his teammates were thriving under Tortorella’s system –Dubi seems to stumble.  He scored just 10 goals last year – less than half his 2010 totals – and having – by a wide margin - the worst season of his young career.  It was the time we expected Brandon to take a step toward stardom – but instead - he struggled.  So, reluctantly, we have to admit the Dub-warrior was not earning his contact.  So – we’ll miss you Brandon – but it was a good move to make this change.

Artem Anisimov.  So talented – but the bigger the contest – the smaller he played.  He was not the grinder that Tortorella needs.  And we watched as he fell lower and lower on our rotation.  He scored in the teens each of his three seasons and does not seem to be taking that next step.  Still – farewell to the man we’ll always affectionately call “Anis” (alternate spellings welcome).

Tim Erixon? Not a leading defenseman for our team and not worth his contract.

So all this leaves us with more offense – and a first line, 6’4” 216 star Left Winger.  And when our right wing Marian Gaborik gets healthy in November – we’ll be able to put a line out there that can rock and roll with anyone out there.  Anyone.

So, yes, I was there in February chanting that I didn’t want Ranger Rick.  But I was wrong.  I do want the guy – and now I’m glad we got him.

Get psyched Blueshirt Brothers.  Your Ranger team that was 6 wins away from the Cup last year – just got better!

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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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kreider and The King – Rangers beat Caps

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

The Dark Blue Knight Trumphant! Hank and Rangers beat Ottawa

Victory! And the Season Lives On

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

Dave Pucks Hat on it's way to Game Seven!

Well that was weird.

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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Game Seven - and the Wrath of the Righteous

All the work. All the practice. All the early mornings and late nights. All the sacrifices. Everything the Rangers put into this season - since September.

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

It's Alive! Ranger Season survives game 6 test in Ottawa.

After more than 7 shut out periods by Craig Anderson, and after the headhunting Chris Neil put the Senators up 1-0 in the first period of game 6 (with Dave Pucks struggling to hear through static on the Metro North railroad) things were looking grim for our heroes. Our one first period highlight was Prust taking on the larger Neil resulting in 5 minute majors for both. Prust got the worst of it - but he hung in there - in a very good omen for the game ahead.

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

Rangers Last Stand

So. A season. A year. Your hopes and dreams as a fan of an original six team.

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

Rangers a Bust - Bolyle Concussed - Torts Non-Plussed - as Ottawa takes 3-2 lead

Ranger Playoff Hockey. Four years ago we took a 3-1 lead over the Washington Capitals. Since then we have gone 3-10 in playoff games under Coach John Tortorella – interrupted two years ago by a failure to make the post season.

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

Flyers-Penguins - what a series!

I gotta quickly mention a few things about the Flyers-Penguins series:

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

I Miss Shootouts! Rangers lose 7th straight playoff OT game - series tied at 2


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?

We'll see.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Devils Blow (3 goal lead) - Marty benched!

As we wait for game 4 tonight in Ottawa - you pal Dave Pucks has been scouting the other series.

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

The 60 Minute Penalty Kill - Ranger shut out Ottawa

Out hit 48 to 33 last night in Ottawa. Out shot 39 to 22. That is not Ranger Hockey the way we've seen it all year. No goals from Gaborik, Callahan, Richards, Anisimov or Dubinsky.

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

Torts: "We are who we are!" - Rangers brace for game 3

The NHL suspended Ranger top line rookie forward Carl Hagelin for three games for the high elbow he threw to the head of Daniel Alfredsson that forced the Senator's captain from the game.

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

Rangers Fall in Game Two – Series tied 1-1

Okay Ottawa – now we hate you too.

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

Rangers take game one: 4-2


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

Scared Of Bears, Not Penguins: Flyers storm back from 3-0 to beat Penguins 4-3 in OT.

Can anyone beat the Penguins? That's the question on the cover of the latest issue of Sports Illustrated.

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

Playoffs! Rangers to Face Ottawa in Round 1

Here we go.

Forget the regular season. Is anyone going to buy that hat that reads: Rangers – Atlantic Division Champions”? I mean, it has a little bit of meaning for the next three days and then we wipe the slates clean. The Rangers are just another Eastern #1 seed – a position that has yielded in the past 6 years exactly zero trips to the Stanley Cup finals. Unless you win the first three rounds of the playoffs its actually worse to have gotten the regular season crown. It raises expectations and pressure and becomes a negative when evaluating your season

But – like it or not – here we are in first. And our reward is to take on the Ottawa Senators who beat us 3 out of 4 contests this season. Of course – the regular season doesn't mean anything – which is the point we were making last paragraph....

As for me – Dave Pucks is happy it's not the Capitals again. After losing 7 of our last 8 playoff games to them – I just would like to take a run at anybody else at this point.

It all starts Thursday night at 7pm at the world's most famous arena. Elsewhere we'll be watching the Flyers take on Pittsburgh ( and rooting Philly 100% for once). The Devils draw the Florida Panthers – which is why they had no interest in catching Phlly for 5th. And the aforementioned capitals draw the Boss-town Bruins

Our basic stats match up to Ottawa like this:

Goals per game: Us 11th at 2.7. Ottawa 4th in the league with 3.0. Advantage Ottawa.

Goals Against: Us 3rd with 2.2, them 24th at 2.9. Advantage New York

Power Play: Us 23rd at 15.7, Ottawa 11th at 18.1. Advantage Ottawa

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.

Expect the Senators to come in with a lot of confidence – based on their success against us this year. But I also expect the Rangers to be ready – with a something special coming from Henrik Lundqvist this second season.

16 wins and we raise the Cup!

Here we go!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rangers down Flyers - Clinch Top Spot in the East.

We did it.

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

Pucks Junior's game wrap

As losses go, this one really wasn't that bad. All in all, we played a pretty good hockey game. We outshot them, and at least at the end, out hustled and out played them. Gabby notched his 40th goal of the season on a shot off of a break away that completely fooled Thomas and snuck by his left pad.

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.

Pucks Junior
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Rangers lose 2-1

Wild action in the last 90 seconds - but the Rangers fall one goal short and lose 2-1 to the Bruins. Still - we need one point to clinch 1st place - and 3 games to get there. We lost the battle - but we're winning the war.

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5 min to go

Running out of time
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10:44 to go

Still down 2-1. Rangers starting to mount some offense

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2-1 Bruins after 2

Rangers trail 2-1 after 2 periods. All three goals scored on the same goal. Maybe we can keep that gong period 3. We start with a man advantage.

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2-1 Bruins

On the powerplay. Stuffed in from the left side. It's a powerplay goal for Bergeron.

Bruins outplaying us right now...

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1st penalty

The refs realized there were no penalties yet - so they made one up - interference on Delzy at 9:30 of the 2nd.

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There goes the shut out. Rangers fail to clear and a shot from the point by seidenberg beats Lundqvist. It's 1-1 in the 2nd.

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1-0 after One

Okay - it's still 1-0 Rangers after one. 40 minutes to clinching first place. 7 saves for Hank. Pucks Junior predicts a shut out. I'm saying a 3-2 final.

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1-0 Rangers!

Gaborik gets a breakaway unassisted for his 40th. Rangers up 1-0 five minutes in. More to come.....
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With a 6-4 win today in pittsburgh sergei bobrovsky maintained his undefeated record at consol energy center . he is now a perfect 5 and 0 when in goal for the flyers in this building. which raises the question if the flyers and penguins should meet in the first round of the playoffs does bobs as he is called in philly,get the call on the road in pittsburgh?

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



Today in pittsburgh the flyers defeated the pittsburgh penguins to become the third team in the eastern conference to move above 100 points for the season along with the rangers, and pens. their reward for this accomplishment is a showdown with pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs.

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.


Today Could Be THE DAY (unless it isn't)

It is April 1st 2012 and in less than an hour the puck drops on Pittsburgh-Philadelphia in a battle for playoff position - and Pennsylvania bragging rights.

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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Friday, March 30, 2012

Islanders Sweep Penguins - Rangers up 5 points with 5 to play

Can you believe this?

The Islanders. The much maligned out-of-the playoffs perennially no-good New York Islanders.

They beat the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins.

Twice. In a row. Really.

(Hard to believe, right? I know. But I saw it on TV and checked the box score just to make sure.)

And so, with 5 games to play - and the Rangers owning the tie-breaker - the magic number is just 5 points.

That is - any combination of 5 Ranger points and 5 Penguin lost points will clinch first place in the East for the New York Rangers.

Just a few games ago the Pens were just one point behind us - we were struggling and they were on a winning streak. But a few days later the Aquatic Fish are floundering and the BlueShirts are back on track.

And we owe it all to those guys from Long Island. So - to tip my cap to the other New York team - from this day forward I will never again call them the 'slanders. They are the Islanders - now and forever.

And you guys - please do the same. So - next time an Islander fan is tipping your car over or throwing eggs at you or yelling unspeakable things - take a moment to stop and say

"Thanks for beating Pittsburgh! You guys are alright"

Then duck. Just to be on the safe side.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ranger's Win Pegs Jets 4-2 (sorry for the bad pun)

Can you believe this? 105 Points for your New York Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist decided not to take a day of rest on a back-to-back night of a road trip. For the past few games, he wasn't feeling like the dominant goalie he had been for most of the season.

And against the Winnipeg J-E-T-S Jets last night it began to look like a bad idea in the second period when the Jets scored twice in 56 seconds to take a 2-0 lead.

The first goal was an unlucky one for Lundqvist. Spencer Machacek fired a shot from the right side that accidentally deflected off Del Zotto's stick and by Hank. And Brian Little was left alone in front and targeted with a great pass that he rifled by Hank for a 2-0 lead on the road.

Things were looking grim. But then – queue the dramatic music – the Rangers began mounting their comeback.

It was Ryan Callahan – the Captain - who raised his game and his teammates around him to set us on the road back. It was on the Penalty Kill. The Captain on the forecheck stole the puck in deep – came around the back of the net with it – and put it on net. Micheal Del Zotto got his stick on it and directed it past Pavelec to get the Rangers on the board. It was a short-handed momemntum shifting tally and the Rangers were back in the game.

And then – with 1:37 left in the period and the Rangers on the powerplay – Gaborik found Cally in front and Ryan zipped a quick forehand to tie it.

From there we went to the Third period. Bryan Boyle – who has been great as of late – just muscled the puck to the left corner of the goal and rammed it home. Derek Stepan added another powerplay goal and the Rangers went on to win 4-2.

Lundqvist was – (ONCE AGAIN) – the difference. His save percentage of .917 outclassed Pavelec's .857. The Rangers outshot the Jets 28-24 and out hit them 26-21.

Goal and assist for both Callahan and Del Zotto. 2 assists for Gaborik. Lone Ranger goals for Stepan and Boyle. Single assists for Fedotenko, McDonagh, and Richards.

So the Rangers now lead all NHL teams with 105 points and have opened up a 5 point lead on the Penguins (how have a game at hand).

Five games to go. Hang on.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rangers beat Wild 3-2

"I just tried to throw it in front"

That was Ryan McDonagh's statement about his game winning assist in the third period. The feed bounced off a defenseman's stick and found Fedetenko - who buried the puck and gave the Rangers a 3-2 victory against the Minnesota Wild.

Ryan is from Minnesota - and there were more than 80 friends and family in attendance according to the Ranger's top line defenseman. So it must have felt extra good to get the final assist in a close game.

It was also a homecoming for Marian Gaborik - who scored the first-ever goal for the Wild when that team first entered the NHL - and still holds most of their offensive all time records.

The Gifted Gab scored on a beautiful feed by Brad Richards - that found him in front of the net. Gabby had a fraction of time and a tiny piece of ice to work with - but he stopped the puck - switched from back- to fore-hand and netted the goal to temporarily give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.

The first Ranger goal was from Boyle - who must have read Hockey Rodent's negative comments about him recently (that he was slow and could not skate well enough to be on a cup champion) because Brian played hard and well all night.

The Rangers outshot and outhit their opponent yet again. But last night the Penatly Kill let them down - they surrendered both goals while a man short. In fact - on one sequence Callahan played stick-less - making it nearly a 2 man advantage.

Some very good signs from Henrik Lundqvist - who had a .923 save percentage that was the difference last night.

Besides the 2 assists for McDonagh, there were assists by Richards (as mentioned), Girardi, and Stralman.

It's a win and we'll take it. And to top it off - the Islanders of all people beat the Penguins 5-3. So with 6 to play the Rangers are up 3 points.

Tonight we play the Jets. I wonder if we'll see Tebow.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

777 and then the Thunder

As we enter the final 2 weeks of the regular season we find the rangers, penguins, and flyers all with 7 games remaining.  The talk around town is: Will the Rangers hold on or will Pittsburgh - yes - and even Philadelphia - be able to catch them?

I think this is most unlikely.  Pittsburgh has the best chance, but the rangers have shown themselves time and time again to be really strong in the tough situations.

This however is not the real story.  No matter how these teams line up - all 3 teams will run into each other when the thunder that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin on April 11th.   Make no mistake about it - none of these teams do not like each other, and I really feel whoever survives to become Eastern Conference champions, will be the team hoisting the Stanley Cup in june.

So sit back, fasten your seat belts, and enjoy the speed, the hitting, and general dislike all these teams have for each other.

In the famous words of Flounder from Animal House:

"Oh boy - is this gonna be great"!

Jack McFly.