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.

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