Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Save (Or Is It) And A Beauty!

Lundqvist stops Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere with 16.7 seconds remaining
I'll say this for the Sabres and especially Daniel Briere, they showed class last night. Yeah, Lindy Ruff screamed for a while, very little, but the team as a whole and Briere who almost tied it said it all. Briere's comments were, "I'm hoping that the league is right. I think they misjudged the one in the last game (Karel Rachunek's goal that was waved off), I think the Rangers should have had a goal there. For the sake of the league, I hope they made the right call. It wouldn't be good to have two critical goals disallowed." Now I wait for the Buffalo fans to talk about their 'big market team' conspiracy.

This is a call, a save, that they will be talking about for a long time. If the Sabres win the series it will be forgotten. If the Rangers win, the discussion will go on as long as the Rangers are in the playoffs. The fact that Lundqvist even got to the puck with his right leg pad to make the save was unbelievable. He looked hopelessly out of position after getting tied up with Rachunek behind the net. What the heck was he doing behind the net when Rachunek had complete control? The best line of the night might have come from Jagr, who again rose to the occasion, in the locker room. Speaking to Lundqvist, Jagr said, "Hank, stay in the net, please."

For fifty minutes, 50:56 to be exact, the Rangers completely dominated and shut down the Sabres. Two power plays goals by Jagr (4) and Shanahan (5) had given the Rangers that dreaded two goal lead with 11:29 to play. Dreaded almost turned into nightmare as Ales Kotalik (2) brought the Sabres within one at the 9:04 mark of the third period. It then turned into hang on for dear life as the Sabres stormed the net and Lundqvist. Lundqvist had to make ten saves in the third period but none bigger than the save on Briere with 17.1 seconds to go in the game. He made 29 saves overall and was voted number one star, Jagr was number two, and Shanahan was number three. The big guys carried the Rangers to this win but the little guys, the role players, were equally as good. The Rangers outshot Buffalo 30-28, outhit them 39-32, blocked more shots, 21-14, and won more faceoffs 55% to 45%.

Up until Kotalik's goal the Rangers had played a classic game. They shut down Buffalo's vaunted attack and killed off four Sabre power plays. The Sabres are 3-25 on the power play during this series. They are 7-49 in the entire playoff. That's a 14.3% for the playoffs and a 12.0% against the Rangers. So the Ranger penalty killers are doing an excellent job. Meanwhile, the Rangers were 2-4 on the power play last night and against the Sabres in four games they are 5-19 or 26.3% . Overall in eight playoff games the Rangers are 10-43 or 23.3%. So the Rangers are winning the special team's contest.

Now back to Buffalo and I do expect that the Sabres will come out storming. Their big guys haven't come through as they expected though Ryan Miller continues to play outstanding. He was not at fault on either goal and made twenty six saves. We are witnessing a classic goalie matchup. Lundqvist has a 1.75 GAA and a save percentage of .932 while Miller has a 1.99 GAA and a save percentage of .932, it doesn't get any closer or better than that.


May 2, 2007
Special Teams Prevail
Rangers 2, Sabres 1
Sabres Review Of Themselves: Poor
Relentless Defense Perfect Foil For Sabres
Daily News
Rangers' Review Rewinds Sabres
Call Cuts Sabres To Core
Henrik's Risky Maneuver Secures Series Turnaround
NY Post
Lundqvist Saves His Best For Last
Garden Of Even
Sabres Keep Their Cool After No-Goal Call
Journal News
Rangers Sweat It Out Before No-Goal Call Is Upheld
Rangers Hang On To Beat Sabres, Tie Series 2-2

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