Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rangers Blow out Bolts (Again!) to Force Game Seven!

You have to love these Rangers.  With their backs to the wall they become this other team – this unbeatable champion team.

Faced once again with elimination in game 6 – they rose up and bombed the Lighting for seven goals and catapulted the series into game seven.

The Rangers led 2-0 and eventually 2-1 in the first.  Brassard and Yandle getting the tallys.

The second was ominously goal-less.

Then the third.  A goal by J. T. Miller.  Then James Sheppard.  Then Derek Brassard (again).  (Then the Lightning).  The Mr. Rick Nash!  And finally the Hat Trick for Brassard and it was 7-3.

And so our hockey season lives on.  We’re back to game seven at the Garden.  And all we have to do is earn a 4 game split at home. The Road Warrior Rangers have won 2 of 3 in Tampa.  We need that 2nd home win to move on to the finals.

What Did We Learn?  That this series makes no sense.  Blow out wins.  Blow out losses.  Shut outs.  Each game is like its own unrelated event. 

Uh, a little help?:  You like assists?  We got assists out the wazoo:  Three assists each for Rick Nash and J. T. Miller.  Two assists for Derek (hat trick) Brassard.  And singles for Glass, Boyle (ours, not theirs), Moore, and Yandle.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Not really.  Both teams were 1 for 3.  And a wash against Tampa is like a victory.

Where Do We Stand?  All tied up at three!

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Friday night.  One last game against these madmen. 

Non-Sequitur of the day:  I am happy and I guess that’s not really a non-sequitur

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rangers Storm Back With Series-Tying 5-1 Blowout

From the brink of disaster - from the depth of despair - just when it looked like all hope was gone - your New York Rangers came roaring back to upend the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning and regain momentum and home ice advantage with a shocking 5-1 victory in game four.

If you could have written your own script for this one you would have barely changed a line on the scorers sheet. Finally - finally - FINALLY (!!!) we had....

-Two huge goals by - can you believe it? - Rick Nash! The Rangers season goal leader who had been missing in action for most of the playoffs beat Bishop not once but twice - getting the breakaway to clang home off the post and Bishop's skate to get things started and again through the oversized goalie's massive leg pads to help put the game away.

-A Power Play goal from the old and tiny Martin St. Louis.

-And a masterful - commanding - dominating - bounce back performance from the king himself. Hank stopped 38 shots for a .971 save percentage withstanding a 19 shot barrage in the second period to lead the Rangers to victory

In the other cage Bishop was exposed - saving just 19 of the 24 shots that came at him for a save percentage below .800!

The scoring was rounded out by Keith Yandle and Chris Kreider. The 5-1 victory was the Rangers first of the playoffs that was by more than a one goal margin.

Many of us thought after game 3 that if we could keep scoring five goals but get back to the defense we had shown all year.... Well - somehow that is exactly what happened.

Holy crap did we need a win like this one. I know we overreact to every game in the playoffs but now - instead of a panic-inducing 3-1 deficit the Rangers are back in the Zamboni driver's seat with two of the next three games at Madison Square Garden.

This series has a long way to go and we are just tied with three games left. But compared with where we had been - and could have been - this is just what our heroes needed.

A great win. Six more and we hoist the cup. Lets go Rangers!

Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Badness! Rangers lose in OT

Well, you can say we fought back to tie the game.  Twice.  There is that.  And its only 2-1 in the series.  But man that would have been a huge game to win.

Now the Lightning have a 2-1 lead and the Rangers have to win game 4 to tie the series or they will fall behind 3-1.

We can’t give up 6 goals and beat anyone.

We did score.  Goals for Brassard, 2 for Fast, McDomnagh, and Boyle.

And really – I don’t have much more to say.  Almost a legendary win – but just another playoff loss instead.

Hank’s save percentage?  Don’t ask.  0.850%

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers can lose in overtime

Uh, a little help?:  Two Assists for Yandle and Stepan.  One each for Klein, Miller, Hayes, Kreider, Boyle and McDonagh.   

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  We were 2 for 4 on the powerplay and 1 for two on the penalty kill.

Where Do We Stand?  We trail round 3 2-1. 

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Friday again at Tampa.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Goodbye to Dave Letterman.  I watched him a lot as a younger man.  Not so much these last few years.  Still it was a comfort to know he was there. I’ll miss him.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Rangers Jolt Bolts for 1-0 Series Lead

That’s nine playoff wins! 

Faced with the potential hazard of their first non-must-win game in a while – the Rangers played with the same toughness and resilience that got them here and beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by the familiar playoff score of 2-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.

After two straight series of tightly checked hockey – The Lightning – bless their hearts – think they are a speed team and have opened things up against the Rangers.  Tampa can score and they can skate – and their front 12 may be slightly better than ours – but our defenders and our goaltender are better than theirs and it showed up that way in game one.  In the first two periods the Rangers had the better chances – but could not capitalize until period two’s final minute.  And Lundqvist was again brilliant, stopping everything that came his way.

In a frenzied sequence in the offensive zone – Kreider came a way with the puck and fired it through traffic at Bishop.  The surprisingly large Tamps goaltender made the save but the rebound kicked out to the left where Derek Stepan – in a moment tremendously similar to the one that ended the prior series – found himself alone with the puck and smacked it through those oversized arms and legs and into the net. 

1-0 Rangers with 13 seconds on the clock.  And those late goals are tough ones on the opponent because in their heads they were already in the locker room in a 0-0 tie.

Now – did we do things the easy way and keep the lead?  Not the 2015 Rangers.  So 6 minutes into the third period the famous powerplay of the Tamp Bay Lightning – after some fancy passing - beat Lundqvist to tie the score at 1-1.

The Lightning had some chances in the third but the Ranger defense and Lundqvist stood tall.  (Ed -actually Bishop is much taller)  (Dave Pucks – I know – but that’s a figure of speech.  Like when they say a goalie stands on his head – they don’t mean it literally) (Ed – I always wondered about that.  I didn’t get why a headstand would help you stop the puck)

This of course sets the stage of the Rangers final dramatic triumph of the day.   With former Ranger Ryan Callahan captain defending – Ranger rookie Kevin Hayes moves the puck toward the left corner – but with his long arms delivered the puck hard to the crease where former Lightning player Dominic Moore was just arriving.   The puck slammed into Moore’s leg and past Bishop and as the MSG faithful roared their approval the Rangers had their 2-1 lead with 2:55 remaining. 

And that’s how it ended.  Hank saved .958 of the pucks that came his way – besting Bishops .933.  Rangers outshot Tampa Bay 30-24, limiting the Bolts to just 5 in the third period. 

The Rangers get a much better game 1 ending than their last series and can enjoy their first rest day with a series lead since Pittsburgh in round one. 
What Did We Learn?  That we won’t get swept in round 3

Uh, a little help?:   Assists for Hayes (that is an assist that is more responsible for the goal than Moore’s leg), Brassard, Kreider, and McDonagh.   

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Thankfully no!  Tampa bested us in this category – converting 1 of 4 while stopping us on both of our opportunities.  So like faceoffs (Ed - which we lost 30-23) or Nash goals (Ed - there were none) this stat matters unless it doesn’t matter at all. 

Where Do We Stand?  We lead round 3 1-0.  We have 9 of the 16 wins needed for the Stanley cup.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Monday we are home for game 2.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Ovechkin scored on Saturday.  But it was in a different country for a different team and a different reason.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Victory! Rangers beat Caps to Win Series

Incredibly, your New York Rangers have done it again. For the second straight season they have risen from the dead and fought back from a 3-1 series deficit to improbably leap to the third round of the playoffs.

The Capitals are a team on the rise and played with skill, power, and resilience.  Ovechkin is like a different player – as his plus-minus showed this year.  He’s finally a complete player and he and Holtby quite nearly won the day and the series. 

But somehow we found a way to beat them three straight and win the series by the narrowest of margins. 

Trailing 1-0 in the second – off an Ovechkin goal where Alex found one second of freedom from a chasing McDonagh to give Washington their last lead of the series – the Rangers were on their 4th powerplay. The Capital’s Green had been out of the penalty box for less than a minute when the refs sent him back there.  JT Miller found the rookie Kevin Hayes streaking towards the net. Hayes found the puck on his stick for a simple tip in and to MSG’s delight we were tied 1-1.

The third period had plenty of action and no goals and so on to overtime we went with the series in the balance. 

In the early going of extra time the Capitals dominated –especially in one sequence where Dominic Moore had his stick deliberately broken with no call from the referees and the Rangers could not clear the puck.  But somehow the defense and Henrik held and the Rangers finally went on the attack. 

The final sequence was thrilling.  The Rangers appeared to run a set play off the faceoff in the Caps zone.   Girardi fired the puck through traffic and Holtby couldn’t see it   He dropped to the ice and the puck rocketed off his pads and right to Derek Stephan at the left circle.  Holtby was late tracking it and still down on the ice.   He dove to his right to try and stop it – but the puck found the back of the net and the Rangers had the overtime winner.   

What Did We Learn?  That hockey season in New York is not finished yet!

Assist “Sisters”:   One each for Miller, McDonagh, Girardi and Yandle.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  YES!  We shot down all thee Capitals powerplays and we scored one on of our 4.  That was the difference.

Where Do We Stand?  We win the series 4-3.  8 wins from the cup.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Saturday at home vs. Tampa Bay.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  It’s too good to be true.  Ovechkin - that bad man- has finally gone away.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ranger stay alive with 4-3 win - tie series 3-3

That’s seven!  The Rangers beat the Capitals 4-3 to tie their series at 3-3 and are just 9 wins from the Stanley Cup.

It was the Blueshirt’s best win of the season – going into enemy territory and defeating a Capitals team that had beaten us there twice before. 

With their backs to the wall the Rangers started fast.  Just 40 seconds in Chris Kreider with speed, size, and power carried the puck the length of the ice, crossed over in from of Holtby, and beat him for the 1-0 lead.

Then – with one second – one second – left in the first period – Kreider again put the rebound past Holtby and – after a review the goal stood.

The second period began badly with the Capitals scoring 28 seconds in.  And the Caps outshot the Rangers 18-4 in the second but could get no closer.

And so on to the third with a 2-1 lead and the Rangers playoff life in the balance.

In the third period the Rangers shot the puck 4 times, scored on two of those, and needed them all.

54 seconds it in was Rick Nash.  Yes that’s right Rick Nash.  And easily this was his biggest goal as a Ranger.  And it was 3-1

And then – finally – Dan Boyle.  And five minutes into the third it was 4-1.

But of course these are the Rangers and nothing is easy.  The Capoitals came roaring back and at 10:33 it was 4-3 and the roof was shaking – and frankly – so was I.

The Capitals came in waves.  In the end there was an incorrect delay-of-game call on the Rangers – and the Caps pulled Holtby and it was 6 on 4.

But there was Lundqvist.  Flashing the pads – scrambling - never giving in and never giving up the tying goal.  And when the horn sounded the Rangers had stayed alive with a 4-3 win in Washington.

The seventh game isn’t until Wednesday.  We’ll need the rest.  One more game for the season.

I’m just happy to be here.

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers magic season has at least one more night in it.

Uh, a little help?:   Two huge assists for Derek Brassard.  One each for Klein, Miller, Fast, Stepan, St. Louis, and Sheppard.

 Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Yes!  We were 1 for 3 and stopped Washington on 4 of their powerplays. 

Where Do We Stand?  Tied 3-3!

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Wednesday at MSG.  Game seven.

Non-Sequitur of the day: I will once again have my lucky Stepan Matteau hat on and will be clutching my Sean Avery pin.  And anything you did Sunday that worked – do it again. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ranger Refuse To Die - overcome late deficit to win game 5 and Stay Alive!

And that my friend is playoff win number 6.  We’re just 10 from hoisting the cup.  Believe!

Adversity.  We all face it in our lives.  And the Rangers faced it Friday and they face it now.

But what Adversity creates is the chance for greatness.  And on Friday night the Rangers achieved greatness.  They were down 3-1 in the series and 1-0 in the hockey game.  The scoreboard read less than 2 minutes in their hockey season. 

But your New York Rangers refused to die.  Not today.  Not this night.

As Lundqvist headed off for the extra skater – Derek Stepan carried the puck up the left side boards.  He stopped and fed a streaking Chris Kreider.  Little Old Marty St. Louis screened Hotlby as best as the little guy can and Kreider let loose a howitzer shot that changed the world.

Boom.  Into the net.  Score.  We were 101 seconds from over and now the Hockey season lived on.  Kreider – the 24 year old with the size – the speed – the skill – and the talent to be whatever he wants to be in this league. 

And into the locker room go the Caps – wondering what just happened.  They thought the series was over.  They we’re thinking about round 3.  Because like the monster in every monster movie since time began – the Rangers would not die.   

And ten minutes into overtime Jesper Fast stole the puck in the neutral zone and got it to Derek Stepan.  Derek has the poise to look at two Caps drop to their knees to block the shot and calmly – deceptively – slid the puck backwards to the Captain Ryan McDonagh.  Ryan stepped forward and shot.  And we got maybe our first lucky bounce of the series.  The puck hit a defenseman’s skate and beat the unbeatable Holtby. 

Boom again.  It was 2-1.  Game over.  Rangers win and the series is now 3-2.

The Rangers now are 9-0 in consecutive home must win games.  That’s an NHL record.  And I don’t think any other team will ever be able to do this again.  But your Rangers did it and it was amazing.  It’s an achievement to be one of the last 7 teams standing. 

And on Sunday – in Washington – we have it all over again.  Adversity – a road must win game.  And a chance again for greatness.

Oh and Lundqvist?  He never did get off the ice.  The Kreider goal sent him right back to the crease – where he was perfect for the remaining regulation and OT – finishing the night with a .966 save percentage.

What Did We Learn?  That for one great night – the Rangers refused to die

Uh, a little help?:   Two huge assists for Derek Stepan.  One each for Fast and Yandle. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Both teams 0-2 on the powerplay. 

Where Do We Stand?  Trailing 3-2 in round 2 – but damn it – still breathing.  Ten wins from Lord Stanley’s Cup. 

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Sunday in DC.  Win to keep the dream alive.   Win to take it back home for game 7.  Win to achieve greatness.

Non-Sequitur of the day: I will have my lucky Stepan Matteau hat on and will be clutching my Sean Avery pin.  And anything you did Friday that worked – do it again tonight.  In the name of Jean Ratelle we respectfully implore the Hockey Gods – hear our humble plea – help the Rangers get back to 3-3.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rangers Give It All But Come Up Short - Trail Caps 3-1 In Series.

You know – we’re not playing all that badly. 

But we’re up against a red hot goaltender.  And we’re facing a team that is blocking shots and hustling and has all the momentum right now. 

What we need is a couple of goals.  Something to get the team going again.  Because momentum is a funny thing.  It’s something the Capitals have – until they lose it.

Our hockey life has gotten very simple now.  Win at home.  On Friday.  Or go home.

Can we do it?  Of course we can.  We have the defense.  We have the goaltender.  We have the offense.  At least we used to.  We just need to pull all of that together for one more night at the Garden. 

The Capitals may be playing like an unbeatable team.  But they’re human.  Well maybe Ovechkin is sub-human, but as a team they are not invincible.  They can lose a friggin hockey game. 

All we have to do is get started.  All we have to do is score – stay ahead – win and then we take it from there.

Another strong first period showed the Rangers with 13 shots – but no goals against Holtby.

In the second – a nice flip pass out of the zone by Nash to St. Louis who headed up ice and fed Brassard with a perfect pass – which the Ranger center shot over Holtby’s shoulder and into the net.  It was 1-0 – the Ranger’s first lead since game two.  And for a few minutes they dominated but simply could not get that precious second goal.

And so, a pair of goals by Andre Burakofsky – the 2nd one just 24 seconds into the third period – provided the series’ first lead change and the Rangers defeat.

Along the way there was a penalty shot by Carl Hagelin that ended up as just another Holtby save.

Now – we were down 3-1 in the second round last year and rallied.  We can do it again.  But it all starts Friday.  Win.  Or go home.

What Did We Learn?  That the Capitals are playing really well right now.

Uh, a little help?:   Assists for Nash and St. Louis. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Well, the refs don’t call penalties anymore so we only had one powerplay each.  We stopped them on theirs – we didn’t score on ours – and Hagelin missed on his penalty shot.  So yes – our special teams failed us when we needed them the most.

Where Do We Stand?  Barely standing at all.  Trailing 3-1 in round 2.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Friday night at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Non-Sequitur of the day: Let’s go Mets?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sadness! Rangers Fall to Caps 1-0, Trail 2-1 in Series

These are troubled times in Ranger land.

The team played hard – with energy – with grit – with determination.  They defended well.  They attacked as best they could.  They moved the puck and fought hard in the corners.  They outshot the Caps 30-22. 

I thought the thing about this years's team is that - finally - we had a Ranger team that could score.  But last night we couldn’t score – could not beat Branden Holtby – and a single lucky goal was all the Capitals needed to take a 2-1 series lead.

The goal came at 7:21 in the second as Jay Beagle (who?) shooting from an impossible angle somehow banked the puck off of Keith Yandle and past Lundqvist inside the right post.

That made it 1-0 and that was all Washington needed.

What we’re facing now is a hot team with a hot goalie who believe in themselves.  And we now have to win 3 of 4 to win this series. 

Hank saved .955 of the shots that came his way – usually that is enough to win – even in the playoffs.  But not Monday night.

Game 4 on Wednesday is now a huge one. Win and the Ranger tie the series and regain home ice advantage.  Lose and the Caps go up 3-1 and are on the brink of advancing to the next round. 

As always – when we lose people will blame the power play for not scoring and the lack of faceoff wins.  But we had trouble with both of those areas even on our huge win streak – so I don’t think the problem is there.  And I guess we have to look at Rick Nash who has not scored on the Capitals and had 7 shots last night with over 19 minutes of ice time. 

This team does miss Mats Zuccarello – but in all probability he is out for a long time with a concussion. 

But what we really need is a goal.  One goal and Holtby begins to second guess himself.  One goal and the Rangers get faster and the Capitals begin to sweat.  We just need a goal.

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers are in a fight for their playoff lives.

Uh, a little help?:   No assists for anyone. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Yes and no.  No because we were a perfect 2 for 2 on the PK.  And Yes, unfortunately, because we couldn’t score on 2 power plays of our own.

Where Do We Stand?  Trailing 2-1 in round 2.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Wednesday night in DC.

Non-Sequitur of the day: Fred Shero is now GM of the Devils?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Life is Better! Ranger tie series 1-1

Well, friggin yay!   That is five!  The Rangers came up huge on Saturday, and for the first time in 20 years won a game 2 at home, defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 and evening the 2nd round series at one game apiece.

It wasn’t decisive – those damned Capitals kept coming – and twice they cut 2 goals deficits in half.  But in the end the Rangers held on for the 3-2 win.  The victory staved off disaster – keeping the Rangers from a 2-0 hole.  It doesn’t erase the pain of the last second loss in game one – but is was a huge step in the right direction.

Hanks was a monster again – stopping .938 of the shots that came his way - including a few spectacular saves. 

Chris Kreider got the Rangers rolling in the game’s first minute – netting the Holtby rebound to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.  And then later in the first – Dan Boyle came to the party as well.  Boyle hustled on the power play to keep the puck from clearing the zone- then shot the puck perfectly in the upper left hand quarter of the net for the 2-0 lead. 

In the 2nd Ovechkin drew two Ranger defenseman to him and passed the puck to a wide-open Evgeny Kuznetsov who beat Hank for a 2-1 deficit.

In the third it was Derek Brassard to the rescue.  Brassard got the puck alone in front and just spun it between the Capital Goaltender’s pads for the 3-1 lead.

But of course – a few minutes later it was Ovechkin again – splitting two Ranger defensemen and banging the puck past Lundqvist as the Russian fell to the ice.

That made it 3-2 – but the Rangers and Lundqvist would let them get no further and Rangers hung on for the 3-2 win

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers are still in this series.

Assist “Sisters”:   One each for Fast, Stepan, St. Louis, and Nash.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Happily we can say yes in a good way.  The Ranger’s hit on one of their four powerplays and shut the Caps out in their lone extra skater chance,

Where Do We Stand?  Tied 1-1 in round 2.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Monday night in Washington DC for game 3.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  A lot of sports today – but this was my favorite outcome.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rangers finish off Crosby and Company - win series 4-1

 Ka-BOOM!  And that’s 4!

The New York Rangers – reaching down deep – found the guts - the determination – and the will to win to beat the Penguins at home in game five and close out the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pittsburgh knew they couldn’t skate with us – and so they tried to grind it out.  It took a while – but slowly the Rangers began to wear their opponents down.

Stepan scored first – in the first – on the powerplay to put the Rangers on top 1-0 – using his feet to kick the puck to his own stick to beat Fleury from point blank range.

One ominous note – Mats Zuccarello took a puck to the head later on the first and did not return.  He’s being evaluated and all we can do is hope it’s not a concussion. 

But in the 2nd – the Penguins tied it on a controversial goal that may have been elbowed in and may have been goalie interference.  But after review it counted and on we went to the third. 

In the last regulation period both Crosby and J. T. Miller hit iron but did not score.  And so for the 2nd straight game we were going to overtime – ensuring that a 4th contest would end with the same 2-1 score.

The tension was sky high – the effort level was through the garden roof.  And the goalies – both spectacular.  Hanks was nearly perfect and Fleury was playing the best I had ever seen in his career. 

For ten minutes of OT the teams went up and down the ice – and as the game wore on the Rangers depth began to win out.  The tide was shifting to NY.

And then – on the final sequence – Moore fought off two Penguins in the right corner and got the puck to Hagelin.  The Swedish forward, with his back to Fleury skated toward the right circle.  And I don’t know if it was exhaustion or bad judgement – but Marc-Andre stayed on his knees and did not get back on his skates as this was transpiring. 

Suddenly Hagelin spun and fired the puck at Fleury.  The puck went short side and snuck past the Pittsburgh goaltender on his short side – and into the net – giving the Rangers a 70 minute 52 second victory in game 5 and it was time to shake hands.

While Fleury deserved a better fate – saving .944, Lundqvist was almost perfect in the Ranger nets – saving .974 of the 38 shots that came his way.  And so we say a prayer for Mats Zuccarello and await the winner of the Capitals-Islanders series.

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers can close out a series in 5 games this year.
Assist “Sisters”:   One each for Brassard, Boyle (who played maybe his best game as a Ranger), McDonagh, and Moore.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Happily yes!  Rangers were 1-3 and they shut down the Penguins on their three attempts.

Where Do We Stand?  We close out the Penguins in 5 games.  12 wins from the cup!

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Wednesday night – so a few days off first.\

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Matt Harvey with his first ever win in the Bronx.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

That's 3! Hayes scores in OT to top Aquatic Birds

Welcome, Kevin Hayes, to the NHL playoffs!

Hayes had been such a big part of the Rangers success this year – coming out of nowhere to anchor the third line and fill the void left by the departure of Brad Richards.  With 17 goals and 28 assists in the regular season the 22 year old answered what had been a question mark in the Rangers line up when the season began.

But in his first ever NHL playoffs – the first year skater had been playing like a, well, like a rookie.  In 240 minutes of playoff hockey, Kevin’s efforts had been – there’s no other way to say it – literally pointless.

It’s not totally unexpected.  NHL playoff hockey is a different game than the regular season.  The speed, the hitting, and the intensity are much greater.  And it can take some getting used to it.

Last night in Pittsburgh, with the score tied 1-1, in the 4th minute of overtime, Marty St. Louis had the puck behind the Penguin’s goal.  He delivered a centering pass right to the goal cease.  Four Penguins collapsed back around Fleury to defend as Karl Hagelin took a few whacks at the puck but could not beat Fleury.  The puck slid across the crease – under the Penguin goalie’s arm – to Hayes – who slammed the two footer home to complete the Ranger come back and give them their first and only lead of the night. 

It completed the 2-1 victory – the Rangers third in 4 games with that same score, and send the Ranger back home with a 3-1 lead in the series.

This game had a different feel than the previous three.  For one thing, the Rangers played badly in the first period, getting outshot 8-2, and Pittsburgh scored first for the first time in the series.  And so , when the 2nd period began the Rangers had no lead to protect or lose.

Crosby, Malkin, and company were determined – but in the end they are just out manned by this deep Ranger team.  The Rangers outshot them 13-8 in the 2nd and tied the game at 17:55.  It was Brassard, taking several whacks at the puck before managing to slide it between the right post and Marc-Andre’s left skate and just over the line. 

The third period was closely contested – with Pittsburgh getting 7 shots to the Rangers 6.  But there were no goals and to overtime we went for the first time in the series – setting the stage for the rookie heroics of Kevin Hayes.  Fleury continues to pay well – with a 0.917 save percentage last night– but it was Lundqvist who saved 0.957% who won the day.  Bolstered by a Ranger defense that helped him throughout – something we have lacked in prior seasons – the Ranger’s net minder did everything he needed to win.

I think we can still play better against a Penguin team hampered by injuries.  But the Rangers adjust – adapt – and keep finding ways to win.  And now – those ways include Kevin Hayes.

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers can go up 3-1 in a playoff series – something they failed to do last year.

Assist “Sisters”:   One each for St. Louis, McDonagh, Nash and Hagelin.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Happily no!  We were both 0-3.  Notice how when we win – the trouble with the powerplay is not a big deal at all?  (Just like faceoff wins.)

Where Do We Stand?  Up 3-1on the Penguins.  1 win from the 2nd round and 13 wins from the cup.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Friday night we have game 5 at home.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Mets!  10 in a row?  Who are these guys?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Happiness! Rangers Beat Penguins to lead series at 2-1

Well, yay. 

Our New York Rangers have risen from the dead to beat Sidney Crosby and company 2-1 to regain the lead in this first round playoff series.

The Rangers have many ways they can beat you – and they use them all.  And when we lose game everyone talk about our lack of powerplay offense and our inability to win faceoffs.  But when we win?  Not so much.

Keith Yandle caught the Penguins on a bad change and fed a perfect pass to Carl Hagelin who beat Fleury for the 1-0 lead. 

And in the 2nd it was another amazing play.  Dan Girardi slams the puck deliberately wide of the net so that it bounces of the end boards and directly to Chris Kreider who buries the rebound. 

And that was all we needed.  Through two periods we limited Pittsburgh to 11 shots.  Of course they rose up in the third – scored one goal and nearly tied it.  But the Rangers held on and got the win.

We’ll take it.  And the series lead.
What Did We Learn?  We learned that the Rangers can still win a hockey game.

Assist “Sisters”:   Just defensemen!  Two for Dan Girardi.  One each for Staal and Yandle.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Happily no!  We were both 0-2 on the powerplay.  That’s fine.

Where Do We Stand?  Up 2-1on the Penguins.  2 wins from the 2nd round and 14 wins from the cup.

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Wednesday night we have game 4.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Sidney Crosby.  I dislike him.