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The Rangers were able to keep their season going/salvage some dignity last night with a dramatic OT win over the Bruins at MSG. My sister-in-law, who is an ER nurse, was working last night and catching bits and pieces of the game on a hospital TV. Between the third period and OT, she posted on Facebook, “Ok Rangers, I kept my patient alive, you can keep this game alive!”. It was a nice microcosm of the attitude of Ranger fandom, and her defiant faith was rewarded. The Blueshirts still have quite the task ahead, but as they say, “one game at a time”. Since we are heading back to Boston tomorrow, I thought I’d share some thoughts about the game and series in general…
- Henrik Lundqvist was stellar again last night. The funny thing about The King in this series is that he gets blasted for Game 2 (simply due to the number of goals allowed), but I thought he was hung out to dry big time in that game. For me, if the Rangers fall say, one game short, the missed opportunity will have been Game 1. Both of the regulation goals in that game were stoppable, and the complexion of this series could have been very different going to New York.
- As Ranger fans, we tend to focus on our team’s shortcomings in the event of failure. Let’s not forget in this instance, the Boston Bruins are a very good team. They can roll four lines for 60 minutes and have plenty of system depth. We didn’t have a Torey Krug or Matt Bartkowski to slot into the lineup when Marc Staal got hurt. Many fans are going to lament the teams goal scoring woes, and seek to bolster the offense in the offseason, but I think quality depth is the number one priority at this stage. Read more »
Update 12:00pm: Per Andrew Gross, Hank is on the ice for practice. False alarm.
Original Post: On the postgame show last night, it was mentioned that Henrik Lundqvist would have his shoulder looked at today to ensure everything is ok. Hank took a Danielle Paille shot off his shoulder late in yesterday’s 5-2 loss, and remained down on the ice for a short period of time. Hank stayed in the game, and trainer Jim Ramsay never left the bench. Marty Biron didn’t even put on his helmet.
The shot likely hit Hank in a soft spot in the padding, which happens from time to time. We’ve seen Hank take awkward shots and remain in the game. This likely wouldn’t be any different.
One of the rare bright spots in game two: the captain
The Rangers lost a tough one to the Bruins in game two. Why was it tough you ask? It was tough because the Rangers were brutal in their own end. If the Bruins had capitalised on half of the odd man rushes or wide open chances they had it could have been worse. That said, the Rangers were much improved offensively. They created chances, generated some turnovers of their own and if Tuukka Rask wasn’t in strong form, this may have been a higher scoring game at both ends. The Rangers need to tighten up at the back end if they want to get on the board Tuesday. On to the goals…
Boston 1 Rangers 0; Torey Krug
The Bruins took the lead just over five minutes in as rookie defenseman Torey Krug looked anything but. Entering the Rangers zone late, the blueliner was completely open and received a cross ice pass from Nathan Horton that opened up the ice for the rookie. Receiving the puck out of stride Krug pushed the puck between his skates in spectacular style before beating Lundqvist five hole as his shot beat the despairing dive – and block attempt – from Girardi.
The goal was an example (one of countless examples in the first) where the Rangers defensive coverage was found wanting (particularly Pyatt). The Bruins had multiple odd man rushes and were able to find wide open shooters several times, resulting in quality looks in front of Lundqvist. Luckily for the Rangers, Krug’s was the only such chance the Bruins capitalised on in the first.
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Well, I think we’ve witnessed the advantage of earning home ice in the playoffs, wouldn’t you say? After falling into an 0-2 hole against Washington in the first round, the Rangers dropped the first game of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup against the Bruins in overtime. After a lengthy feeling out period, the play opened up late in the second and into the third frame. The teams were relatively even until overtime, when the Bruins got chance after chance until Brad Marchand finally notched the game-winner at 15:40. Some positives and negatives from Game One:
- As we noted in the keys to the series, Boston was the league’s best faceoff team in the regular season for the second year in a row, but New York did a good job of keeping things relatively even in Game One. Derek Stepan had a miserable night on draws, going 5-14, but the rest of the Rangers were a combined 25-23. Not terrible, and the Rangers did get a few scoring opportunities off faceoff wins.
- Perhaps whatever issues were plaguing Rick Nash in the first round are now behind him? This was easily Nash’s best performance since Game One against Washington. The Rangers’ offensive leader set up Ryan McDonagh’s goal, drew a penalty on Zdeno Chara and generally skated much better and seemed to have a bit more mustard on his shot. We expected him to have a tough time with Chara in this series, but Nash did very well in Game One. Read more »
Rick Nash will have his hands full with Zdeno Chara
A slew of injuries to Boston blueliners have some convinced the Rangers will roll through their second round matchup, but we should know by now that nothing comes easy for New York. Still, the Blueshirts have a good shot at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals if they follow these keys to victory.
Mitigate Boston’s advantage on faceoffs
It’s no coincidence that the team with the faceoff edge won five of seven games in New York’s first round matchup. Sure, there’s more to it than that, but winning faceoffs is one way to guarantee puck possession. For the second year in a row, Boston led the league in faceoff percentage by a wide margin, at 56.4%. First round hero Patrice Bergeron (62.1%) is far and away the best faceoff man in the league and will be a handful in this series. New York has been bipolar at the dots all year long, but the Rangers’ pivots will have to bring their “A” game to slow down Boston. Read more »
Is Derek Stepan underrated?
Welcome to the Musings. It’s a case of back to the future tonight as two rivals clash seemingly for the first time since time began. The boys have broken down the match up in depth and there’s not much you don’t know so I’m going to muse with you about non-Bruins/Rangers matters. Jump on in
Rant I: I’m beginning this week’s musings with a rant. Derek Stepan isn’t getting the due that he deserves. THN run a nice annual piece of alternative hockey awards and one category is ‘breakout player’. Stepan finished 8th, behind winner Nazeem Kadri, Voracek, Taylor Hall and Chris Kunitz among others. All the players had strong years but as they note, Kadri cooled considerably in April whereas Stepan got better as the games for the Rangers got more meaningful. Kunitz – while impressive – constantly had world class line mates while Voracek couldn’t help his team even get to the playoffs and Taylor Hall surely broke out a while ago.
Stepan would have been close to an 80 point season this year, was a league leader in game winners and plus minus all the while on a low scoring team without – for the large part – elite line mates and he’s twenty two. I think Stepan deserves more credit from league sources, but hey – maybe a Stanley Cup may help his rep. Rant over.
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Henrik Lundqvist has been named a finalist for the Vezina trophy again, for the fifth time in his career. Lundqvist won the award last year, and will look to be the first back to back winner since Martin Brodeur (06-07, 07-08). The other finalists are Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus) and Antii Niemi (SJ).
Chuck Myers/Getty Images
For reasons unbeknownst to me, some members of the national media seem to be under the impression that Henrik Lundqvist has been a failure as a playoff goaltender.
I could understand that sentiment a little prior to last season, but a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 should have quashed any conversation about Lundqvist’s postseason struggles.
Instead, an ugly stat had been making the rounds – Lundqvist has allowed three or more goals in 29 of his 58 playoff starts – and a suspect goal off the stick of Jason Chimera in Game One brought some of Lundqvist’s old critics out of the woodwork. Read more »
Greg Flume/Getty Images
After four days of anticipation, hand-wringing and analysis, the Rangers and Caps finally kicked off their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series last night. And it was ugly. There’s no two ways around it, the boys were sloppy, undisciplined and flat out not ready to play this game. They were dominated for the first ten minutes of the game, and fell victim to taking far too many penalties. However, there were quite a few positives to take away from this game as evidence that this team can still win this series. Let’s talk it out…
The game was lost in a span of :46 seconds
Sure, Ovechkin tied the game on the powerplay. It was a penalty that shouldn’t even have been called. That’s hockey. The tide of this game was turned however, on two mistakes. The first, was a mental mistake between the pairing of Girardi and McDonagh in letting Marcus Johansson slip in behind them for a breakaway. The second was made by Henrik Lundqvist on Jason Chimera’s back-breaking third goal.
Forty-six seconds apart. There’s the whole game. The Blueshirts weathered the storm of the Capitals’ attack in the first period, scored a goal they didn’t really deserve, and found their legs in the later stages of the game. If not for these two mental breakdowns, we could have been heading to OT with some momentum in the Rangers’ favor. I know it’s unfair, and we are spoiled by Hank’s general excellence, but I’d like to see him stop that move from Johansson. He was off-balance and let the puck squeak through him. When the King is on his game, that puck is not in the net. Read more »
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
The Rangers have gotten to know the Washington Capitals quite well in recent seasons, beyond the regular season. It goes without saying that there’s not likely to be many surprises facing either side entering this series, so what do the Rangers need to do to steal game one away and take away home ice advantage? Let’s look at the keys to victory for your New York Rangers.
This is the most obvious – and most crucial – aspect of the entire series, as it always is when taking on the Capitals. Without Marc Staal, who always does a great job defending Ovechkin, things will be different. Defending who is arguably the best player right now in the NHL will be done by committee.
The keys will be keeping Ovechkin to the outside, allowing Lundqvist to see the shot and not allow Ovechkin to enter the zone at speed as often as possible. Reports suggest Tortorella will split up McDonagh and Girardi to help negate Ovechkin. This will be key as the Caps look for matchup advantages throughout the series.
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