Friday, March 27, 2015

Rangers Clinch Playoffs - Beat Ottawa and Hambuglar 5-1

What a night!  The Rangers may have broken the hottest team in hockey, humiliating the (formerly) red hot Ottawa Senators 5-2 on their home ice – lighting up the NHL’s hottest goaltender (the Hamburgler) for 5 goals on 17 shots – and best of all – clinching the playoffs with 101 points!

The Senators had been 14-0-1 in Matthew Hammond’s incredible rookie run.  But the Rangers came to town and changed all that.  By early in the second period – the embarrassed Senators had to sit the man the nicknamed “the Hamburglar” because the Rangers had lit him up for 4 goals in 17 shots.

The first goal was beautiful.  Derek Stepan didn’t have a direct passing lane to Chris Kreider – so he banked an outlet pass off the end boards that Kreider caught in full stride and beat Hammond short side for the 1-0 lead.

17 seconds later it was 1-1, thanks in part to a puck that bounced past Yandle, but we like to focus on positives here.

A few minutes later, Boyle followed the rush in the offensive zone – took the wide open feed – and buried it for the 2-1 lead at 5:20.

And then – oin the final minute – Stepan’s shot hit Hammond in the chest and popped up and over him.  It may have been heading in anyway – but Kreider swooped in behind the Senator’s goalie and buried the one-footer and at 19:00 it was 3-1.

That was already more goals than Hammond had let up in his pro career.  And the imaginary man at the floodgates was thinking about opening them.

Early in the second – Kevin Hayes found an accelerating Mats Zuccarello who fired the puck past Hammond yet again for the Rangers 4th goal in 17 shots.  At this point the Hamburglar was cooked (Editor – Really?) and Ottawa gave the rookie his first benching of his young career.

But the Rangers weren’t done.  The middle of the 2nd period turned into a Rangers penalty fest – with Rick Nash serving two separate two minute penalties in a 4 and a half minute span.  Tanner Glass soon joined Ricky in the box after a slashing penalty and it was 5 on 3.  The Rangers did a great job defending that, and when Glass eventually followed Nash out of the penalty box – Stepan found him for an off man rush that Tanner burried to break a long scoring drought (and net him the Broadway hat)
It was 5-1 and the evening was over as far as competitive hockey was concerned.

The third period was another Ranger penalty-fest – resulting with us killing off another three powerplays and emerging with the 5-1 victory.

Cam Talbot was again great in net – this time with Henrik Lundqvist serving as the backup.  Cam Stopped 24 of 24 shots for a .958 save percentage – which will win you a lot of hockey games.  The Rangers dominated the Senators – limited them to just 4 shots in the second and 9 in the third – despite all the powerplays and Ottawa attempting to get back in the game.  Great win.

There was a scary moment when Dan Girardi had to leave the ice with an injury – but late reports is that it was just a gash requiring stitches. 

What Did We Learn?  That the Rangers refuse to lose two in a row.

Assist “Sisters”:   A lot:  2 each for Stepan and Hayes.  Singles for Kreider (to go with his 2 goals), Boyle and Zuccarello, (to go with their single goals), Yandle and Nash.  

Did Special Teams Determine The Outcome Of This Game?  The Rangers had no powerplays – but stopped all six of Ottawa’s.  So it was a big factor.

Where Do We Stand?  It’s great.  First of all – at 101 points we lead the league in points – and we are the first team in the NHL to CLINCH A PLAYOFF SPOT.  8 points up on the Islanders. 

Oh My - What Will Happen Next?  Saturday afternoon in Boston.

Non-Sequitur of the day:  Skapski was sent down to the AHL.  We’ll miss you, red.  Replacing him as the Rangers backup netminder is some guy named Lundqvist (yes I checked the spelling).  We’ll see if this Swedish fellow can help the team.

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