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 »
It’s a good day to be a Rangers fan. Two wins on the bounce, two four goal games produced by the Rangers and suddenly a goaltender who was boasting about a lack of challenge has started to look rattled. Let’s get into the musings
I don’t care who you are – the 80’s Oilers aside – no player or team should ever provide motivation for the opposition. Holtby’s comments and Ovechkin’s comments have both being countered by improved play on the ice by the Rangers. Adam Oates cannot be happy with the way the series has begun to swing.
Obvious thought of the day: Derek Stepan is going to be a very rich hockey player sooner rather than later.
Is Stepan the first of the home grown kids – talking ‘tweener contracts – where Sather really doesn’t have the same power as he usually has in regard to controlling costs? With Richards clearly in decline (despite the occasional production recently, Stepan is an absolutely critical Ranger long term given the way he is developing.
Derek Stepan has four game winners in his last nine goals. Please remember this young man is just twenty two.
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I think he likes that face off circle.
In our third post that comes via a great graphic from LAR (Loyal Anonymous Reader), we have a great chart of where Rick Nash scores his goals. Of Nash’s 21 goals this season, he really only scores from two areas: In front of the net and at the off-wing face off dot. Neither of these should really surprise anyone, as we’ve known about his sweet spot for a while.
Most of those even strength goals from down low are part of his patented “skate through everyone below the goal line then cut back and use ridiculous reach to slide it under the goalie” move. Almost all of those come at even strength, which makes sense since he’s driving to the net more at 5v5. When the Rangers are on the powerplay, they tend to set up more, thus less goals down low.
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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 »
Scott Levy/Getty Images
Sorry again about no goal breakdown, but the Rangers picked up two big points against the Devils today, winning by a score of 4-0. Hank bagged his second shutout of the season and Rick Nash enjoyed a dominating performance with two goals. There were contributions from all over the ice, including two point performances from Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan. The win gives the Blueshirts 56 points, 22 regulation wins and a temporary hold on the 6th seed in the East. I thought I’d use this post as an open thread for everyone to talk about the game, plus lay out the possible playoff matchup scenarios the Rangers could find themselves in.
6th Seed: Since the Islanders are already done, it comes down to the Ottawa Senators to change the seeding. The Sens have two remaining games and 54 points. For the Rangers to stay in 6th place, the Sens would need to lose at least one game in regulation or lose both in OT/shootout. In that case, The Sens would either finish with less or the same amount of points as the Rangers, and the Rangers would hold the tiebreaker on regulation victories. Read more »
Reasons for optimism up front in New York
The quality of opposition hasn’t been the toughest in the past few games but deadline day acquisitions, the return to form of several players and recently found consistency among the forward ranks has seen the Rangers production up front really take off in recent games. All this bodes well for a trip to the playoffs and, perhaps most promisingly, beyond this season.
Whether the Rangers retain a Ryane Clowe, re-sign Mats Zuccarello or push through a JT Miller or Chris Kreider remains to be seen but the way some of the younger forwards have developed this season means the forward group’s well documented struggles this year may have been overblown. Kids such as Stepan and Hagelin have, for the most part produced while the team has changed on the fly.
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Rick Nash needs to find twine again. Starting tonight.
It’s a game day. It’s the Florida Panthers who always seem to trip up our boys in blue. If ever there was an occasion not to play down to the level of your opponents it’s tonight. Let’s jump into the musings.
Rick Nash needs to be better. The past few games – starting with a few turnovers against the Islanders – he hasn’t been that dominant forward we’ve enjoyed for the most part of the year. This is the time of the year you need your best to be your best. That said, I think we see a strong game from Nash tonight.
For those of you that haven’t seen it, this is a nice little article on Lundqvist, on TSN. Just shows even without being a particularly old goalie, how much respect Lundqvist carries and what kind of impact he’s had on the league. There are probably many league goalies that look to The King for tips.
This time of the year, it’s about results. These next three games are in my view not just must wins but should wins. A team that needs points with the Rangers’ talent level should be maxing points in this next three. In fact, if the Rangers play to their talent level (a big ask this season for sure) there’s no reason they cannot win at least five of six. Big ask, but doable.
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Brassard has a great chance to re-establish himself with the Rangers
With every additional pass like the perfect defense splitter that set up Dan Girardi’s huge goal against the Islanders, Derick Brassard is positioning himself to be the Rangers second option at center beyond this season. The ramifications from each additional impressive Brassard display from here on in are huge. His form makes Brad Richards that much more of a luxury, makes Richards’ future that much more tenuous and it makes the Rangers summer that much more of a decision filled affair.
While in Columbus, Brassard flashed glimpses of skill but with careful analysis it was actually more than that. Like Rick Nash, Brassard was surrounded for the most part by subpar talent, with defensive coaches and yet was still able to put together some productive campaigns. His problems in Columbus were his ability to stay healthy and the expectations that go with being a top ten draft pick. If Brassard can stay healthy the ‘Marian Gaborik trade’ could be a rare hockey trade that becomes a win-win.
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Photo by Avi Gerver, ©Madison Square Garden, L.P.
The Rangers took three of four points from the apparently almighty Penguins this week. Both games, off the back of roster re-shaping trade deadline deals, showed us a lot about how the Rangers should look for the remainder of the season.
The 2-1 shootout defeat Friday night in Pittsburgh might see some fans be disheartened about a club that scored just one goal (again), but what is a somewhat valid concern is outweighed by several positives. Let’s take a look at why the Rangers still have a chance this season;
The new guys: the new additions – led by Ryane Clowe – have brought depth, skill, but above all have made the Rangers harder to play against. Perhaps most importantly where players such as Marian Gaborik weren’t entirely trusted by Tortorella anymore, you saw the likes of Derick Brassard on the ice toward the end of the game as the Rangers chased hard. Brassard came close from a bad angle that needed a review. The fact Tortorella is rolling lines more evenly – evidence of the additional depth –suggests the Rangers have depth to make a push.
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