Chris isn’t available to do the musings today, so you’re stuck with me today. Today is game day, although I sense that many have a feeling of dread today. With the Rangers down 3-0, it’s understandable. Winning this series is unlikely, but it has been done before against these Bruins. That was in 2010 when the Flyers came back from down 3-0 to win the series, but many of the Bruins on that team are still on the current team. It’s not impossible.
Of the players still on the roster: Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Shawn Thornton. That’s 11 skaters, although Krejci was injured for the last four games of that series in 2010.
Of course, the Rangers will need to get some sort of steady defense –difficult without Anton Stralman or Marc Staal– and some sort of consistent offense. The Rangers need to put Henrik Lundqvist in a position to win, which they haven’t done yet this series. If Hank gives up two goals, the Rangers can’t win. That seems to be the case, and it really shouldn’t be. Hank’s been fantastic –aside from Game Two– and you sort of feel for the guy.
Rant: Why do people think that Hank isn’t a playoff goalie? If he gives up more than two goals in a game, then the team automatically loses because the team can’t score. It’s utterly ridiculous. It’s always people who don’t follow this team too. If you even do a little research you’ll see the Rangers don’t score, and almost all of Hank’s losses are when he gives up 2 –or even worse, 1– goals. Just laziness.
Rant #2: Why do people think that all of this is John Tortorella’s fault? A) He doesn’t work on the PP, that’s Mike Sullivan (the next point will cover the anemic powerplay). B) His systems aren’t passive, they are aggressive. There is a big difference between “defense first” and “passive” that many just can’t see. We’ve covered this ad nauseam on this blog. If you want direct links to our posts, ask in the comments. I’m not putting them here. C) He has not lost the locker room. Everyone saying he has is a fan that isn’t in the locker room. Also, everyone thought Joel Quenneville lost the Chicago locker room last season, and look what happened. D) People take exception to his “yelling at the players.” He’s a coach, not your friend (thanks Herb Brooks). There’s a saying in the professional world: “It’s good when you get yelled at, it shows people care. It’s when they stop yelling that you need to take notice. It means they’ve given up.”
The powerplay: It’s tough to have a successful powerplay when your PPQB (Brad Richards) forgets how to play hockey. Michael Del Zotto is not ready to take over the pressures yet (he’s just 22, defensemen don’t really get comfortable until they hit that 24-25 year old mark). John Moore has a nice shot, but he’s a rookie. Dan Girardi doesn’t belong on the point. You can make an argument for Ryan McDonagh, and that’s about it. Of course the bigger issue is lack of movement and the relatively static nature of the powerplay. It won’t get Sully fired (he does other things), but they will probably look to hire a powerplay coach in the offseason.
The Penguins sure are hitting a stride now. Tomas Vokoun really stabilized them in net.
Surprised that San Jose is giving the Kings so many problems. I didn’t expect that, but I still think the Kings repeat this year.
How about those Red Wings? Everyone thought the Hawks would steamroll, but the Wings have looked mighty impressive so far.
Some non-playoff notes:
- Alain Vigneault was fired by Vancouver. For those hoping it happens to Torts: Keep dreaming.
- The Rangers have until June 1 to sign 2011 draftees Shane McColgan (4th) and Sam Noreau (6th). McColgan is still playing in the Memorial Cup, so if the organization signs him, it likely won’t be until the conclusion of the tournament. As for Noreau, I’m surprised the team hasn’t signed him yet. I know he’s not the best prospect, but this was a team very thin on defense at the AHL/ECHL level. I don’t watch Noreau regularly, but he’s one big dude and was given primary shutdown minutes for a Baie-Comeau team that went to the QMJHL Finals.
- The Rangers also have until June 1 to sign Peter Ceresnak (2011, 7th). I don’t expect them to pursue this option, which is why I’m relatively surprised Noreau hasn’t been given his ELC at the moment.
- The other 2011 draftee (Steve Fogarty, 3rd) is in the NCAA and just finished his freshman season, so the Rangers won’t sign him until the end of his junior year at the earliest.
- Could you imagine if Mike Sauer didn’t get hurt?
- How many games do you think the Rangers win in this series?
- If the Rangers get swept, do you consider this to be a successful season, all things considered (lockout, no camp, roster turnover, two top players not producing)?
- Who do you think comes out of the East? West? Who wins the Cup?
- If you think Torts has lost the locker room, what makes you think that? Remember the point made above.