Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rangers In Six

Before you get too excited over my pick I should warn you that I picked Thomas Dewey over Harry Truman in the 1948 Presidential election and Germany to win two wars. This series promises to be one of the more exciting ones in the playoffs. With the exception of the goals against discrepancy, Rangers have given up 29 fewer goals, the teams are almost dead even in all other categories. They even come into the playoffs on hot similar streaks in their last ten games. The Rangers are 7-2-1 and the Thrashers are 6-3-1.

Where I believe the Rangers have the edge to carry them to the next round is in goal. Even there, there is little to choose between Henrik Lundqvist and the Atlanta goalie, Kari Lehtonen. Lundqvist has appeared in two more games than Lehtonen and has won three more (37-34) and has one more shutout (5-4). Lundqvist ranks eighth in GAA with 2.34 and Lehtonen is 25th with a 2.79 and Lundqvist has an edge in save %, ranking 10th with .917 and Lehtonen is 14th with a .912. Remember however, that Lundqvist carried the Rangers on his back for the second half of the season.

This series, like most playoff series, will probably be decided by special teams and on paper the Rangers have an edge. The Rangers ranked 8th on the PP this year at 18.5% and the Thrashers were 23rd with 16.5%. However, in the last 31 PP chances the Rangers only scored 4 goals. Their first unit led by Jaromir Jagr passes the puck too much and sometimes have gone the entire two minutes on the PP without getting off a shot. The second unit led by Shanahan is more shot oriented and under no circumstances should Jagr and Shanahan be paired on the same unit. Renney is to blame here for his failure to get the Jagr unit off the ice after a minute or so of PP team. He must also be willing to change the personnel on the PP and not feel obligated to round up the usual suspects.

The penalty kill shows a bigger discrepancy between the two teams. The Rangers rank 12th with a 83.8% and the Thrashers are 26th with a 79.8%. This is where the Rangers will have an opportunity to take over the series but they will have to improve their performance over the last few games. Despite the ineptness of the power play the Rangers finished the season on a 13-3-4 roll, one of the best in the NHL. However, it all depends on the performance of Henrik Lundqvist. If he continues his strong play and steals at least one game in Atlanta the Rangers will come back to the Garden where they won their last five in a row, including wins over Montreal, Toronto and Pittsburgh, in excellent shape to sweep the two Garden games. So let the games begin.

ICINGS: Absolutely taken by surprise by the two year signing of Thomas Pock. I think Pock is vastly underrated by the Ranger coaching staff and definitely underused. Pock will probably sit when Rachunek comes back so it baffles me that he signed with the Rangers when he could have entered free agency next year with a lot more bucks than the Rangers gave him, roughly 1.3 million for two years. Anyway, I am happy he will return and I hope he has a great playoff series.

April 11, 2007
Pair Is Ready For Prime Time
Daily News
Avery Raring To Go
Rangers, Devs Icy Hot
NY Post
Thrash Talking
Rangers-Thrashers Matchups
Journal News
Rangers Might Look Back At Game Against Blues As Key To Season

April 10, 2007
Daily News
Shanny Leads By Example
NY Post
Renney Or Not
Feeling Confident
Journal News
Rangers Playoff Tickets Go On Sale Today At Noon
It's Hossa Vs. Hossa
Other thoughts about the series:

Lyle Richardson, aka Spector of Fox Sports
Atlanta Thrashers vs New York Rangers. The Thrashers won three of four in the regular season series. The Thrashers possess a lethal offence powered by Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa, and were bolstered down the stretch by the acquisition of Keith Tkachuk, but there's not much depth beyond them. The Rangers were red hot down the stretch, and have more offensive depth led by Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan. The bluelines of both teams are average at best, so it'll be up to their respective goaltenders to carry the day defensively. Ultimately, the Rangers experience could be the determining factor in this one. RANGERS IN FIVE.
BlueLand Blog [Official Thrasher blog]: Breaking down Spector
Combined Games of Playoff Experience By Roster Players

New Jersey Devils- 1318
Detroit Red Wings- 1315
Calgary Flames- 1133
Dallas Stars- 897
Atlanta Thrashers- 872
Anaheim Ducks- 775
San Jose Sharks- 688
Tampa Bay Lightning- 611
New York Rangers- 597
Ottawa Senators- 550
Vancouver Canucks- 543
Buffalo Sabres- 528
Minnesota Wild- 472
New York Islanders- 466
Nashville Predators- 457
Pittsburgh Penguins- 451

Despite all the talk of this being the Thrashers first playoff appearance it turns out that the Thrashers, as individuals, have oodles of experience in the post-season... I have a feeling our seasoned warriors are going to thrive come Thursday night.
Thrashers Thrashings blog: Are you Ready?
I've been thinking... unless you are an older fan and were in Atlanta and experienced the Flames playoff experience, then you may know. But even for those that have lived in Atlanta since then and remember it, it goes without saying it's been a very long time and remembering what it's like it something too far in the past.

But Thursday is a special time. Win or lose, it's the first playoff game in this team's history. If you thought Saturday night's last game was intense, it will be nothing compared to Thursday and Saturday night...
SouthEast ShootOut blog: Thrashers Roundtable: Part 2
Henrik Lundqvist concerns me the most because good goaltending trumps everything. The Thrashers have gotten derailed by hot goalies before and I could see Lundqvist getting in their heads. That’s where veteran leadership from Mellanby, Kozlov and Holik will pay dividends. The key is getting to Lundqvist early and not letting him build up his confidence...

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  • HowieHockey said...

    At long last, someone finally agrees with me, after 2 years I feel vindcated. I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment that Pock has been vastly underrated by the Ranger hierarchy. Pock has the best shot from the point of the entire Ranger "D". If you go back
    to Pock's first appearance as s
    Ranger you'll see he had 4 Points in his first 4 games, 2G+2A.
    Most Ranger roster decisions are
    based on salary considerations.
    So Rachunek & Malik play and Pock sits. It's a testimony to his mental strength that the Rangers haven't completely demoralized him with all of their foolish roster choices. I just hope he gets a lot
    of time on the PP. We need shots on
    or close to the net.

  • mike said...

    howiehockey-A lot of fans think like us. Renney is Sather's alter ego and knows he has to play Sather's acquisitions of which Pock is not.