Friday, January 30, 2015

Rangers Forget To Score - lose 1-0 to Montreal

On Dave Puck’s birthday no less!  It’s no blowout – but the Rangers managed just 24 shots (and only let up 26.  We looked like we were headed for OT and a point when with 5 minutes left a long shot by Max Pacioretty went through McDonagh’s legs and screened Lundqvist.  The shot hit the King’s glove but somehow bounced in. 

Wasted were missed Nash shots off Price’s head and a missed breakaway attempt.  Also notable was a disallowed goal in the first where Hank got the benefit of the doubt.  Lundqvist slammed his stick on the ice on the way to the locker room. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game? No.  Our PK was 3-3 but PP was 0-2.  A wash.

Where Do We Stand?  Caps won so they are in third – one point up but the Rangers have 2 games at hand.  We’re in the first of the two wild card slots.  Still 6 points above the line-of-death.

What Will Happen Next?  At home to Carolina on Saturday.

Non Sequitur of the day:  Thanks for all those birthday cards and letters.  As Groucho Marx said – you’re only as old as (the women) you feel

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We Can’t Beat The Damn Islanders (lose 4-1)

It’s only three games – but the Rangers just can’t seem to beat the Islanders – who have finally put together the best team they’ve had since the 1980s. 

I try to focus on positives – but there aren’t many.  We did finally score a goal.  Hagelin at least got to test that the islander goal light was working – breaking up the shutout with 10 seconds left (assists by Moore and Fast).  The final was 4-1.

The islanders are bigger – and deeper – and we couldn’t outskate them.  Their forecheck created turnovers – and kept us from having momentum moving up the ice.  So they ended up creating a ton of shots.  And to top it off – Halak was brilliant in goal.  We were pretty much outplayed at every position.  And the Rangers had some time off to rest and prepare for this one – it just didn’t seem to help.

We actually outshot them 41-38 – but the Islanders had more quality chances.  Hank played well for much of the game – but Halak played better. 

What does all this mean in the bigger sense?  Well, the NHL is about matchups and this Islander team seems to match up with us better than anyone else does.  If we never meet them in the playoffs it doesn’t matter – but they are looking very strong at the moment.  Or to look at it another way – we don’t have to beat them now – 
just later – if at all.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  No.  Both teams were 1 for 3 on the power play – and it took a 5 on 3 for the Islanders to score theirs.  We lost this game at even strength.

Where Do We Stand?  Some goodness here.  The Capitals somehow lost a game in regulation.  So we’re still alone in third place at 27-14-4 with 58 poin
ts.  So we’re a point up on Washington with 2 games at hand.  And we’re just 4 back of the Penguins with 2 games at hand also.  And most important – we’re 8 points ahead of the line-of-death 9th place Florida Panthers.

What Will Happen Next?  The Montreal Canadiens come to town on Thursday.  They are 30-13-3 with 63 points – good enough for third place in the Atlantic division.

Non Sequitur of the day:  Thursday is Dave Pucks birthday!  Still waiting for some of that wisdom that comes with age.   

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Can't Spell Ottawa without OT - Rangers win 3-2 in Overtime

I'm getting the feeling that this is a special year.  Another night – another opponent – and another way the Rangers found the guts and determination to fight their way back into a game and win it.

With the All-Star game break stretching before them – the Rangers wanted one more win out of the first half of the season.  But the Ottawa Senators (and I don’t think they have Senators in the Canadian government so I don’t get the name) were thinking the same thing and it was a hard fought contest at Madison Square Garden.

There was a scoreless first – with Henrik Lundqvist equal to everything Ottawa threw his way and the Rangers threatening but not able to break through. 

In the 2nd – the Rangers got on the board first as rookie Kevin Hayes pounced on a rebound off a Dan Girardi shot – and netted it for the 1-0 lead.

Then – unfortunately – Ottawa got two past Henrik in less than a one minute sequence and it was 2-1.  The first through traffic and the 2nd on the powerplay.

But in the third – out heroes dug deep – kept the pressure on – and fought back to tie.  Marc Staal – who the Rangers recently signed for an additional 6 years – brought the puck into the Senator’s zone and then fed a perfect pass to Chris Kreider – who broke in alone on Anderson and tied the game at 2.

From there – on to OT where Derek Stepan did a beautiful no-look spin-a-rama pass to the speedy Hagelin in front of the net for an easy tap in and the 16-3 streaking Rangers were winners once again.

Shots were even at 35.  Hank saved .943 and, as we’ve noted, has visibly raised his game since the all star snub.  For once – we won the faceoff battle – 37-27.  I’m starting to think this stat doesn’t mean much – at least not by itself.  Face offs only help if you’re also good at puck possession.  The Rangers have been losing face-offs and winning games this year so I wouldn’t dwell on this stat too much. 
Assists for Girardi, Staal, Stepan, St. Louis, McDonagh, and of course Hagelin. 

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  No.  We were 0-3 on the power play and or PK was 1 for 2.  We won anyway

Where Do We Stand?  Washington lost – but in a shootout.  And Pittsburgh lost – but in OT.  So our win puts us at 27-13-4, in third place in the Metro, a point up on the Capitals and just one point behind the 2nd place Penguins with a game at hand.  Most important – we have opened up a biggest-ever 8 point lead on the line-of-death playoff elimination demarcation.  (Editor – hey that rhymed)  (Dave Pucks – yes I’m a poet and I didn’t realize this was occurring)

What Will Happen Next?  A week off for everybody except Rick Nash – who travels to Columbus for the all star game.  Rangers resume next Tuesday with a rematch against the Islanders.   

Non Sequitur of the day:  J. B. Smoove?  His middle name doesn’t begin with a “B”.  B is for his original last name (Brooks) – and Smoove is made up. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Timing For Staal! Rangers Keep Marc For Six More

The Rangers showed a perfect sense of timing by locking down defenseman Marc Staal for six more years at $5.7 million per year – before the defenseman reached free agent status at the end of the year – and before the negotiation could become a distraction for the whole team (as it unfortunately did with Ryan Callahan last year)

The move cements the Ranger defense in front of Henrik Lundqvist and gives us our third “top-two” caliber blueliner along with McDonagh and Girard.  Marc has to bounce back from his share of injuries – a concussion he should not have played through but did (caused by a dirty hit by his own brother Eric) and an eye injury that was scary but luckily did not end his career.   Marc kept bouncing back and returning to stellar form.

Signing him is another great move on the career upswing of GM Glen Sather – the man who got us McDonagh for Scott Gomez and Kevin Klein for Michael Del Zotto. Way to go Glen!

Tonight the Rangers take on Ottawa – and then the all-star break.  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rangers Ascending - Pound Penguins 5-2

The whole world was watching as the NHL snuck the Rangers-Penguins game into the traditional NFL Sunday 1pm slot as football pushed its playoff games to later in the day.  And historically, the Rangers used to do poorly (1) against the Penguins and (2) in day games.

But these are not your big brother’s Rangers.

26 seconds in –the NHL leader scorer Rick Nash (not Sidney Crosby or Evgeny Malkin by the way) intercepted an errant Penguin pass and broke in all alone to beat Marc-Andre Fleury to get the game off to a happy start.  And the Penguins never got even. 

Brassard added a wristshot goal at 6:08 and the Rangers led by two.   They killed off two powerplays in the first, but on the third one couldn’t stop Crosby from popping a puck in crease past Lundquist for 2-1.

In the second, it was Nash again on the wrist shot for his 28th of the year, and then Stephan on the powerplay and suddenly the Rangers had a 4-1 lead on all of 17 shots.  And so, Marc-Andre was invited to watch the rest of the game from the bench and Greiss skated out to take his place.

On to the third where the Penguins made one last attempt to make this debacle resemble a hockey game with David Perron 5-holing Hank to make it 4-2. But two minutes later – it was again our MVP Stephan at 6:15 who closed out the scoring (and the Penguins) by wristing a Letang turnover past Tom Greiss for the 5-2 final margin.

Two game win streak for the streaky Rangers and assists for Klein, Brossard, Kreider (two), St. Louis (also two) and Zuccarello.  Hank was .941, saving 32 of 33.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Not so much.  The Rangers killed off 2 of 3 but only netted 1 of 6 with their own man advantage. We did our real damage even strength.

Where Do We Stand?  Wonder of wonders. As I type this at 4:30pm, the Capitals have lost two straight and have tumbled out of third in the Metro – with the Rangers now taking that coveted slot at 26-13-4, even with Washington at 56 points but with two games at hand.  We only trail Crosby and company by 2 points with a game at hand for 2nd.  And the dreaded Line-of-death sits 6 points below us. Not bad for a team that just dropped 2 of 4.

What Will Happen Next?  A day off and then Ottawa. 

Non Sequitur of the day:  I’m actually pumped that Odell Beckham Jr. will start the Pro Bowl.

Dave Pucks out and thanks for clicking in

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rangers Finally Remember How To Score - beat Blue Jackets 2-1

Now that's more like it.

With Derek Stepan back in the lineup - the New York Rangers remembered how to put the puck in the net and beat those wannabe foes - the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on the road - to right the ship and get back in the win column.

Marc Staal (who is reportedly on the verge of signing a six year deal to extend his Ranger career) netted the first goal - through traffic in the second period. And less than five minutes mutes later Kreider scored on the breakaway- and that's all we needed.

Derek Stepan assisted on both goals.

And the rest was all Hank. Lundqvist has been on a mission - raising his level of play ever since his notable omission from being named to the all star team. The proud Swede appears to have taken this personally - and this may be exactly what we needed.

In all he stopped 35 of the 36 Columbus shots that came his way- and the Rangers held on for the 2-1 win.

Did special teams determine the outcome of this game? Yes and no. The Rangers were 0-1 on the power play but killed off all 3 of their PK situations - against a good Columbus power play - so I'd say yes - special teams was a big factor here.

Where do we stand? 25-13-4 puts us in the 7th spot - the wild card - tied with the Bruins with 3 games at hand and 5 points above the line-of-death.

And what in the world will happen now? With the NFL sliding their first playoff game to 3pm - the NHL is slotting the Rangers-Penguins game to 12:30 Sunday. Should be a nice nasty afternoon game. Looking forward to it.

Non Sequitur of the day: Go Colts and Packers.

Dave Pucks out. Thanks!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Will We Ever Score Again - Rangers Blanked By Bruins 3-0

If you ask me – it's all about Derek Stepan.  Take him out of the lineup – as he has been for the last 5 periods – and the Rangers fall apart.  We're already thin at center – and without Steps it's Brassard and lots of not-so-much.  We we're terrible when he was out with the leg issue early on – and we're worse now.  And I think our opponents realize this and target him – if you remember – last year in the playoffs he had his jaw wired shut with a football helmet on for most of the playoffs. 

So – without Stepan we lose -  and last night it was to the Bruins. 

Cam Talbot saved .906 of the shots that came his way – and there were 32.  And we got 30 shots of Tuukka Rask (is that really a name?) but it felt like a lot less.  Not too much more to say here – don't panic and pray for a speedy recovery.  The Rangers are streaky – and there are worse things in this world to be – because if you get streaky good in the playoffs…

Did Special Team Determine The Outcome OF This Game?  Not exactly.  We were 0-3 on the Powerplay and 3-3 in the PK – so a wash.  But if we had netted one of our man advantage situations this might have started to resemble a hockey game.

Where Do We Stand?  We're still holding that last playoff spot with 52 points (24-13-4) and we are 3 points above the line-of-death with the Panthers 3 points behind us (with one extra game played). 

What In The World Will Happen Next?  No rest for the weary as we take out slumping circus to Ohio to take on Dubinsky and the Ranger Wanna-Be's (also known as the Blue Jackets).

Unrelated Thought Of The Day:  I'm happy the Giants got Spags back as defensive coordinator.  It almost feels like a movie. 

Dave Pucks out and thanks for stopping by. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Breaking Bad: Rangers lose 3-0 to Islanders

Oh well.  It was fun while it lasted, but the Rangers came crashing back to earth last night losing 3-0 to the hated Islanders and suddenly – their 13 of 14 streak seems like it was long ago.

I don’t want to go over this one in too much detail.  The Islanders outshot us 44-27.  If you give up 44 shots – you’re going to get scored on.  Derek Stepan was injured and once he left the game (and it was 0-0 at the time) well, the Rangers aren't the same without him. 

Hank was pulled after two periods.  Not that any of this was his fault – he stopped 29 of the 32 shots thrown at him (0.906 save percentage).  Cam was a perfect 12-12 in relief.

We’re not going to win every game – especially without our top center.  And I can imagine we were a little burned out after the western road trip.  I wouldn’t dwell on this one too long if I were you – or me for that matter – and I am me actually so I won’t.

Did Special Team Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Nope.  Both teams were 0 for 1 with the extra skater.

Where Do We Stand?  It’s like you’d expect.  The damned Capitals jump us into 3rd place in the Metro.  We are 24-12-4 with 52 points in the 7th playoff spot – the wild card.  3 points above the line-of-death.

What Will Happen Next?  A day off and then off to Boston Thursday to play the Bruins – who have the 8th and final playoff spot right behind us.
That's all for now - Dave Pucks out.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Rangers Bite Sharks to Sweep West Road Trip

The red hot Rangers brought their traveling road show to San Jose Saturday night and ran into a Sharks team that were flying around the rink, attacking, hitting, and moving the puck. 
The Rangers appeared to be thoroughly outplayed in the first period – but with equal doses of resilience and Henrik Lundqvist – not only kept the home team off the score sheet – they struck back for a pair of goals themselves.

And Chris Kreider flashed some of that amazing potential that has all Ranger fans so excited about what this guy can be.

First – in front of the net – Kreider – reached back one handed for the puck with his stick and – with a play that almost looked like a ping pong paddle backhand – tapped the puck to Marty St. Louis in perfect position.  Marty snapped the puck home from point blank range and the Rangers, who had withstood an onslaught for 10 minutes – had the improbable 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later – it was Kreider again.  This time he used his strength to hold position in front of the Shark net (Editor – “shark net?” That sounds like something from a fishing show) (Dave Pucks – I mean the goal net of the San Jose Sharks) (Editor – got it) and the San Jose defense just could not move him.  Niemi let up another rebound off his pads and Kreider pounced on it – and muscled it into the Sharks goal for a 2-0 lead in the first.

And that was really all we needed because Henrik Lundqvist played maybe his best game of the year.  Was the proud former Vezina trophy winner feeling slighted because he wasn’t selected to the all-star game?  We’ll probably never know – but Hank was magnificent – fighting back the Shark’s onslaught over and over again.  They did break through with a single goal – on the powerplay in the third – where Hank stopped the initial shot – but Karlsson was there to bank the rebound.  But one goal was all Henrik would let up.  In all he stopped thirty shots and was the difference last night.

And, in the game’s final minute – with San Jose pulling Niemi for the extra skater – it was Rick Nash showing patience, strength, and skill as he took the puck into the San Jose zone – crossed in front of the Shark’s empty goal -  and out waited the defense for the wide open shot to seal the deal at 3-1.

The Rangers are showing they can beat you in many ways.  We can skate - we can pass – we can score – and Hank can stone you.  It’s a pretty powerful combination – the best I’ve ever seen the Red Pants put together in years – and it’s good for 13 of 14.

Did special teams determine the outcome of this game?  No actually because the Sharks scored on the powerplay – we didn’t – and we won anyway.  San Jose was pretty aggressive on the PK and ended up stopping us all three times we tried.  It just wasn’t enough.

Where do we stand?  It’s like a broken record – the damn Capitals won AGAIN.  So they are – again – tied with the Rangers for 3rd in the Metro – but we have the two games at hand.  We’re still 5 points above the line-of-death (the 9th place Panthers at the moment) and 4 behind the hates Crosbys for 2nd place.

What Will Happen To Us Now?  Two rest days and we return from the left coast to our home ice for a one game home stand against the first place Islanders in a much anticipated clash of rivals.

We keep winning.  It’s a wonderful thing.  When Hank saves 0.968 of the shots thrown at him – we can beat anybody.  Dave Pucks out – and let’s keep it going!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rangers rally to stun Kings 4-3

Okay – I’ll say it. I have been watching the Rangers since Jean Ratelle centered the GAG line – and I have NEVER seen the Rangers play as well as they have these last 13 games. 

Last night the Rangers playing for the 2nd consecutive night on the road threw their back up goaltender on the road against the world champion LA Kings and beat them 4-3 to capture their 12 win in 13 games.

You know – I see it over and over again but I can’t understand it.  When a team is tired from playing two games back to back – they never run out of gas in the 2nd game.  It’s the start of game two where their exhaustion shows – not the end.  And so it was with the Rangers – who fell into a 2-0 hole in the first six minutes – resting Henrik after he had defeated the NHL leading Ducks 21 hours earlier.

Yes it was 2-0 Kings after 6 minutes – but then the New York Rangers took over the game.

Dan Boyle – who is looking like a great acquisition – cashed in on the Rangers red hot power play unit -  Sam Rosen said correctly that the Rangers haven’t played so well with the extra skater in YEARS – and the lead was halved to 2-1.  (Editor is “halved” a word?)  (Dave Pucks – yes – and I used it correctly and I’m as surprised as you are).

The first period ended that way – but the 2nd is where the Rangers dominated and took over the game.  In a 19 second span in the period's third minute – the Rangers stunned the Kings with two goals:

The first was the 8th of the year for (career year) Kevin Klein.  Kevin has found the scorer’s touch this year – once again fired the puck untouched and on net through traffic.  And right after that - the Rangers worked the puck deep – and Lee Stempniak weaved his way through traffic and beat Mike (not so) Quick for a 3-2 lead.  19 seconds and the deficit was now a lead.  And the LA Kings never recovered.

Then at 8:17 – again on the powerplay 0 the Ranger struck again.  Marty St. Louis took his favorite spot at the side of the net and when a puck bounced his way he ripped one by Quick and Rangers were up 4-2.

That’s how it stayed until late in the third when Justin Williams got just enough of the puck from close range to flip it up and over Cam Talbot to bring the Kings within one.  But then – despite some scrambling and a Ranger penalty that allowed the Kings a 6-4 skater advantage with Quick on the bench – the Rangers held on and the final buzzer sounded on a 4-3 Ranger victory and their unlikely 12th win in 13 contests.

Assists for Brassard (a pair) and Girardi, Miller, Hayes, Boyle and Nash.  Cam saved .903% of the shots he faced to Quick’s .846%.  The Rangers were outshot 31-26 but made their shots count.  And this game was one they really needed – the last time we played here… Well – it was good to get a win here.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Absolutely.  The Rangers were 2-4 on the Powerplay and killed off all 4 of their own penalties.  That’s your difference right there.

Where Do They Stand?  Well, the Can’t Lose Capitals actually lost a hockey game – in OT of course so they salvage a point.  And the half-stumble enabled the Rangers to catch them at 50 points with two games at hand – leap frogging them in to 3rd place once again in the Metro – 5 points above the Line-Of-Death – which is the highest point above that line they have been all season.  And we’re just 3 points back of the hated Islanders tonight with 2 games at hand. 

What In Heaven’s Name Will Happen Next?  Our heroes get a much needed day of rest before continuing their western swing to San Jose and the Sharks on Saturday Night.
Another night - another great Ranger win – and the mighty Red Pants nation rolls on.  Dave Pucks out and thanks for reading 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Rangers Beat The Best In The West - 4-1

Tonight’s Ranger game matched up our heroes against an Anaheim Duck team with the most overall point in the NHL.  

But the big guys blinked.  They started their back up goaltender – the looney tunes galaxy questing Ilya Bryzgalov.  I’m taking this as a very good sign – as if the Ducks think they might see us again in the cup finals and don’t want us to learn too much about their #1 net minder.

The first period was hard fought and closely checked – with the Rangers getting a slight edge in scoring chances and Henrik Lundqvist looking sharp in the net.    No goals and the first period ended 0-0.

But then in the 2nd period:

QUACK!  The Ducks let up their first goal.   On a delayed penalty the Rangers looked like a well oiled machine.  Lundqvist scooted to the bench – Derick Brassard jumped on as the extra skater – and fired the puck through Bryzgalov and it was 1-0.  And that’s how the 2nd period ended – with Lundqvist saving all 18 of the shots he had seen so far.  On to the third and…

QUACK! At 2:32 of the third, Kevin Klein intercepted a clearing attempt with his hand – dropped the puck to the ice and fired off a shot.  Bryzgalov made the initial save – but there was Rick Nash on the doorstep to smack in the rebound for his 25th goal of the season (in a season that is not half way over yet!).  2-0 Rangers.

Then the Ducks waddled back into the game on a screened and deflected power-play shot that Hank couldn’t grab.  But then – at 14:27 of the third:

QUACK!  Little Mats Zuccarello stole the puck near the right circle and just fired it right by Bryzgalov and it was 3-1.  And then with time winding down and the Duck’s goaltender pulled for an extra skater.

QUACK!  Dominic Moore from just inside the red line fired in the empty netter and you had your 4-1 victory over the best team in hockey.  Hank saved .960% of the shots that came his way and the Rangers outshot the “quackers” 30-25.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  Well, the perfectly executed extra skater on the delayed penalty gave us a goal – but the Ducks scored their lone goal on the power play – so we’d have to say no.

Where Do We Stand? The win (11th in 12 games) outs us at 22-11-4 with 48 points.  The damned Capitals KEEP WINNING – so they are in 3rd in the Metro – 1 point ahead of us but having played 2 more games.  We have the 7th spot – the first wild card – 3 points ahead of the “line-of-death”.  We’re also just 5 points behind the Islanders with 3 games at hand.  Creeping up on them. 

What’s Next?  We rematch the Kings.  Cam in goal.  Dave Pucks out and thanks for reading.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Words Can Hurt – Buffalo Bench Minor Opens Floodgates For Rangers 6-1 Win

2015 is here and the Rangers are rolling.  Back at home to start the New Year – the Rangers jumped on - and blew out - a Buffalo team that had played the night before.

At 8:56 of the first period Andrej Meszaros was whistled for tripping Lee Stempniak, beginning a sequence I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in a professional hockey game (and I’ve been watching since Jean Ratelle centered the GAG line – okay?).

So a few seconds later – with the man advantage - Derick Brassard tipped the puck past Michael Neuvirth and the Rangers led 1-0.

Then things started getting weird.  Ted Nolan – the Sabres Coach – was penalized for – get this –abusive language.  Abusive language?  What does that even mean?  How was John Tortorella not called for this 3 times a night when he coached the Rangers?  Can there be a penalty for bad words?  Did he hurt the ref’s feelings?  Isn’t abusive language pretty much the way coaches talk to everyone all the time?

Whatever the explanation – the Rangers were instantly on a 2nd man advantage – a back-to-back.  And this time is was the resurgent Kreider – who broke in alone on Neuvirth – used his strength and speed to cross over through the crease - and buried the backhander to get the Rangers up 2-0.

And now it gets even weirder.  Because Kreider scored despite a hooking call on Cody McCormick.  Normally the goal would negate the penalty.  But – because the Sabres were already serving that bench minor for swearing – well, the Rangers instantly got their third consecutive back-to-back-to-back powerplay.  And that is something that yours truly has never – ever – seen before in a hockey game.  (Editor – me neither).

And of course - in the third man advantage it was Rick Nash who took a pass behind the end line – backhanded the puck to his own forehand - to Neuvirth’s left – and buried the puck for a 3-0 lead at 11:18 of the first period.  The Rangers had cashed in on three consecutive (uninterrupted) powerplays. 

And then – 76 seconds later – the Rangers added an even strength goal.  Defenseman Dan Boyle – cheating up on the left side fired the puck through Neuvirth and it was 4-0.

The rout was on – and Neuvirth was out – benched after surrendering 4 goals on the first (Editor - and only) 9 shots he faced.

So – in came Jhonas Enroth who held the score at 4-0 for the rest of the first period.  But the damage was done.  The red hot Rangers had pretty much blown the visitors out of the arena in less than 13 minutes of ice time.

In the second it was again the Rangers getting on the board first.   Hagelin circled to the front of the net and fired it straight at – well, at a Buffalo player's rear end.  The puck bounced off the Sabre posterior and right on past Enroth and it was now 5-0.

That lead lasted all of 22 seconds before Buffalo got their lone goal.  Kevin Hayes made a brilliant feed to Jester Fast at the side of the net – and Jesper shot the puck off Enroth’s left pad.  At full speed it looked like a save but slow motion showed the puck over the line before the goaltender’s leg kicked it back out. 

And so – after review it was 6-1 with 5 minutes to go in the 2nd.

And - that’s how it ended.  A great all around effort for the Blueshirts.  The Rangers outshot the Sabres 39 - 25, Henrik Lundqvist saved 0.960% of the shots that came his way.  What we have here is a team that can score – and defend – and play special teams.  It’s a winning formula and now a 2 game winning streak.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  What do you think?  The Rangers were a huge 3 of 4 on the powerplay and a perfect 3-3 on the Penalty Kill.  This game was nearly over in the first 13 minutes.

Where Do We Stand?  The Rangers were already in the 8th playoff spot when the night started (although the Daily News seemed to think they were trailing the Caps for the final spot)(Editor – stop that – it’s unprofessional)  (Dave Pucks – that’s the point of running your own blog – if no one pays you – you’re automatically unprofessional by definition)  (Editor – good point).  Anyway – with the win we jump past the Capitals into 3rd place in the Metro – a full three points above the Line-Of-Death.  I sure wish the Capitals would start losing – but I’m sure they feel the same about us.  The Islanders and Penguins – damn them – are sitting about 7 points north of us. 

Now What?  A few days off then a western swing – beginning Wednesday night against the Ducks – who may not be Mighty by name anymore - they are by reputation – with the most points in the National Hockey League.   It will be a good test of how we’re playing this year – a phrase that may not actually mean anything.  But who’s complaining?  The Rangers have now won 11 of 12 and after a raucous New Year's Eve celebration I have managed to find my pants!  

Dave Pucks out and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Rangers win one in a row! De-claw Panthers 5-2

Winning streaks don’t last forever.  But when they end – the important thing is not to go on a losing streak.  Your faithful pal Dave Pucks went on a losing streak in Atlantic City on New Years eve – and I woke up about an hour ago in a Motel 6 in Camden New Jersey with basically no idea how I got here.  The really weird part about this is that I somehow ended up with $300 dollars in my pocket – and I only had $150 when I left for the casino some 24 hours ago.

Maybe I could give financial advice – but I don’t remember what happened.   I also don’t remember getting this Sean Avery tatoo.

(Editor – Dave, why don’t you talk about the Ranger game.)

(Dave Pucks – yeah – I guess you’re right.)

Okay.  As I was saying a few paragraphs ago – the Rangers had won 8 games in a row – followed by a 3-2 defeat by the Dallas Stars.  So the big thing was – could they get themselves right back on track – or were they going to start on a losing streak.

So – on the last night of 2014 – our heroes headed down to Florida to take on the Panthers.  And on a night where they were road weary – and when their top score Rick Nash was blanked – the Ranger rose up for 5 goals and a great bounce back win.

Chris Kreider – who’s play has been steadily on the rise the past few games - got us on the board snapping a rebound past Al Montoya for the 1-0 lead.

In the 2nd – McDonagh led the team into the offensive and rocketed a shot off Montoya – who again gave up a big rebound.  This time Brassard popped it in the net for 2-0.

And later in the period McDonagh fired an absolute missile from the point – the kind of shot we’ve been waiting all year for – and it was 3-0.  If you’re like me – you believe that the Ranger Captain was hurting in last year’s playoffs and is now – finally – getting all his health and power back.

Now – this is our Rangers – so of course it went from 3-0 to 3-2 mid way through the 3rd.      But then – on a mad scramble in front – Marty St. Louis tried to kick the puck to his stick.  But the puck instead hit Montoya’s pad.  And the Panther’s goalie – trying to get his legs under him – inadvertently pushed the puck into his own net.  They looked at it in Toronto – but the goal stands.  There was a distinct kicking motion – but not towards the net.  The puck was heading towards St. Louis’ stick when Montoya essentially scored on himself.  A huge goal and the backbreaker for Florida.

And finally – with 4 minutes and change – St. Louis stole the puck and was on a breakaway.  Traveling two thirds of the length of the ice – Marty was stopped by Montoya.  But – in a recurring theme for the evening – another big rebound found another Ranger.  This time it was Dominic Moore – and he netted the final tally 5-2.

Three assist for Stepan, and single assists for Klein, Kreider, St. Louis, McDonagh, and Hagalin.  Hank saved 18 of 20 shots.  His save percentage was 0.900% - not great – but good enough to win when the team can score.  We outshot the Panthers 34-20 – and when you do that and have Lundqvist you're going to win games.

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome?   Not really.  Rangers were 1 for 2 on the PowerPlay and 2 for 3 on the kill. 

Where Do We Stand?  Those damned Capitals are as hot as we are with only 1 regulation loss in their last ten.  So they have 3rd place in the Metro with 1 more point than the Rangers – but we hold two games at hand.  Our spot is the 8th and last spot – the wild card – with 44 points and a 2 game lead above the line of death.

What Next?  A few days off and then the Sabres come to New York for Saturday night.
And as for Dave Pucks – I’ll be sleeping off a hangover and heading home.

As soon as I find my pants.