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?

No comments:

Post a Comment