Wednesday, April 30, 2014

High Noon On Broadway!

These are times and games when the big guys play big and the lil' ones maybe show up. Well last night the Flyer goalie made 34 saves, Lundqvist made 19. Wayne Simmonds scored a hat trick, Rick Nash had zilch. First game, rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson of the Flyers added his first goal to a solid performance, Ryan McDonagh struggled and played like a nervous rookie. So it went as the Flyers destroyed the Rangers to tie the series at three leading to tonight's showdown at the Garden.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux said it best, "We've got a lot of character in our room. For us to get kicked out. we're going to have to get beat by harder work." Therein lies the tale. Get beat by harder work. Harder and smarter. The Rangers continue to take stupid penalties and the Flyers made them pay going 2-3 on the power play. Pouliot  started it in the first period and Simmonds quickly struck.

The other side of the coin saw the Rangers go 0-5 on the power play. The negative run is now 0-20 with the last PP goal being in game two. The Rangers are 3-28 in this series, the Flyers are 6-18. Work harder, play smarter. Big guys play big, small guys maybe show up.

Speaking of big guys why is Dan Carcillo not in the lineup? Put him in and pull out Pouliot who has been terrible in this series. There is no tomorrow AV. Its now. Its do or die. Its High Noon in the Big Apple and we need the entire squad to come out with all guns blazing. All hands on deck. Lets do it. I told you this series would go seven games. We should have won in 5 or 6 but we lack the killer instinct and now we are fighting for our lives. Lets turn Claude Giroux words back on him and the Flyers. Lets outwork the bums!

ICINGS:

Sorry to hear about the death of all time Ranger great and Hall of Famer Edgar Laprade who passed away at the age of 94. He was one of the leaders of the 1950 team that took the Detroit Red Wings to seven games, losing the seventh game in OT. That was my all time favorite team, which also included Bones Raleigh and goalie Chuck Rayner. All seven games were played on the road. Two 'home' games in Toronto and five in Detroit. Condolences and prayers to his family and RIP Edgar Laprade.

Wikipedia:
Edgar Laprade --
During his career, Laprade played three full seasons without recording a penalty, and was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1949-50. In the same season, the Rangers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings, the closest Laprade ever came to winning a Stanley Cup. The series went all the way to a Game 7 before Pete Babando of the Detroit Red Wings scored the game-winning goal in overtime. After that, Laprade played five more seasons with the Rangers before retiring. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rangers Close-In On Second Round

Before a celebrity packed MSG, including the Pundit, the Rangers pulled off a 4-2 win to put the Flyers on the brink going into game six. It wasn't easy. The Flyers had help in the form of two so called refs, by the names of Justin St. Pierre and Brad Watson who insisted on keeping the game close. They put the Flyers on the power play five times with Carl Hagelin being their private whipping boy penalizing him three times. It's amazing that all the scrums after the whistle the Flyers come out on top.

They negated a Martin St. Louis goal because they didn't see the puck behind goalie Steve Mason. And while the Flyers scored one power play goal, Vincent Lecavalier, the Rangers were pitiful going 0-3. Heck, the refs were even wearing the Flyers colors. Black and white shirts with an orange arm band. The game was not a bell ringer, the Flyers got 26 shots the Rangers 22. The Rangers scorers were Staal, Richards, Moore and Boyle. Of course Boyle's goal was an empty netter.

The Rangers should have won this game going away, but it was a struggle at the end until the empty netter. The coach tinkered with the lineup, inserting JT Miller, good news, and benching Dan Carcillo, bad news. I would have picked from Pouliot and Boyle for the bench, If you read this post regularly you know we are fans of JT Miller. The kid has grit and fire. Playing with Richards and Hagelin, the 21 year old logged 10:22, had an assist and was a plus two. Let's hope yesterday was not a one and done.

Reader mbernold laments about the Rangers lack of purpose, to put it mildly and how he has seen one Cup in 63 years. How about two in 77? I would like to say we will close it out Tuesday, but I fear that we will be back in the Garden trying to close it out in a desperate do or die. I just hope St. Pierre and Watson are not the refs. Hang in there, mbernold and all other die hard fans.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Rangers Are Powerless

We have talked about it all year in this space about the Rangers non-functioning power play. Heck, I seem to recall talking about it for years. The two previous coaches did or cared little about it. This coach claims they practice it. Is he kidding? The Rangers were 0-4 in this game and are now 3-20 in the series. The fact that the Flyers were 1-2 and that won the game. What was worse was the execution never more bad as when the Rangers had a 4 on 3 for the opening 1:06.

Richards, St. Louis, Stepan and McDonagh all gave their best impressions of coach Dean Smith of North Carolina basketball fame and the four corner offense. One shot, a slapper by McDonagh as the foursome killed the clock by 'controlling' the perimeter.  That effort just about wrapped up the game.

The Rangers opened up strong with the 4th line led by Dominic Moore tallying the first goal of the game and although the Rangers managed 38 shots on goal there was an overall absence of traffic in front of Steve Mason, who won his first playoff game, ever.

A reader, Dan Stryker, wanted to know before the game if this was a trap game. Well, I think it was and it was the Rangers who trapped themselves. Who is to blame? Start with the coach and go to the players. Rick Nash has one goal in 16 playoff games. He put on a flurry near the end with some good moves and shots but it was too little, too late.

So now it's back to MSG where the Flyers will be using their elbows, sticks and whatever else is necessary for every scrum after the whistle. Yeah, we got 38 shots but how many above average saves did Steve Mason have to make? McDonagh summed it up perfectly, "We didn't make his first game back too tough."

My last playoff game was in 2012 when the Devils eliminated us in OT at The Rock. Tomorrow I will give it another shot. At least it's not an elimination game, but the winner will have a leg up for game six. To the Rangers: forecheck, forecheck and forecheck some more. Oh, if you have time and a little extra get at least one guy a shift to get in the goalies face. Sean Avery, where are you now?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rangers Win A Dan (dy)!

Dan Carcillo 'only' played 8:57 in game three, but if you know anything about Carcillo every minute, every second is a war. As he was to say after the game, "This time of the year, it's definitely a man's game." And the man, Dandy Dan II, Giradi is Dandy Dan I, played a man's game. A goal, plus two, two shots, two hits, two penalties and a stare down of a Flyer fan giving him the finger after Carcillo scored the Rangers fourth and final goal before a hostile and disappointed crowd at Wells Fargo Center. This season the Rangers were 19-9-3 with Carcillo in the lineup. He was scratched nine times which is more an indictment of the coach than it is the player.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead on goals by Stepan and St. Louis who is starting to ramp it up. Then Streit scored and it was 2-1 Rangers after one and looked like deja vu all over again. The collapse? No way. The Rangers played tough and Giradi's goal made it 3-1 and the Flyers could not mount a comeback. Both teams were futile on the power play. Flyers 0-5, Rangers 0-4. The hits were even 39 apiece, the shots were 32-23 Flyers but the Rangers blocked 28 shots and the Flyers only 11.

Lundqvist made 31 saves and I can't imagine anyone but Henrik in the nets during this playoff run. When the Rangers fail, it's because they lose their intensity, their discipline and focus. Last night was a blueprint for victory. When cutting ice time don't cut the grinders. Don't cut the fourth line, and especially don't cut Dandy Dan II's time. It's a man's game this time of the year and Dan is the Man. Both of them.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Rangers Fail To Rise On Easter Sunday

It was going to be a great day, a great Easter Sunday family dinner. It was at number two son's house and all four of my children were to be there including the rambling one from Louisiana. We would munch on antipasto, with all the goodies that phrase denotes and wash it down with wine, beer and an assortment of soft drinks. We would couple that with another Ranger win and move on to the lasagna, ham and lamb and the tasty supplements. We had seven different desserts including my all time favorite, strawberry shortcake. Number one son and number two son had both passed up luxury box tickets to partake in this family feast. The Rangers took a 2-0 first period lead and it looked like the Flyers were headed to their tenth straight loss at MSG.

No way. Instead the Rangers continued their streak, a bad one, a seven straight second game playoff  loss. The last time the Rangers won a game two on home ice was back in 1994 when they beat the Canucks in game two to even that series at a game apiece. The Rangers out shot the Flyers 33-25, the hits were 33-30 Flyers but the power play was telling. The Flyers were 2-3 and the Rangers 1-6.

Unlike the previous game, the Rangers were out worked in this one. Granted the Flyers got help from the refs when the Rangers were called for two 'diving' penalties after they were cheap shotted from behind by Andrew MacDonald and Wayne Simmonds. This negated two Ranger power plays. However, looking at the results of one for six, it's hard to make a case that the Rangers would have succeeded on the two extra PP's.

To be honest the Flyers out worked the Rangers in this one. They were on top of McDonagh every time he touched the puck and Ray Emery played a very good game. The Rangers were out hustled and out gritted. While the hits were fairly even the 'quality' of the hits were one sided. The coach might think some personnel changes in game three. Say Dan Carcillo and JT Miller for Boyle or Dorsett and Fast. Fast played just three shifts in the third and Dorsett played four. Neither had a shot on goal. Carcillo and Miller would add some much needed grit.

What could have been a sweep or five games now looks like a seven game war. Hopefully, we can step it up and make it a seven game war. Let's try the changes. For the record, the lasagna was outstanding, credit to my wife. Great job hon. Wish I could say the same to the Rangers and their coach.

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ICINGS:

FYI, did you know there is a Rise of the Rangers CD?

FleetwoodSounds.com:
Rise of the Rangers - 1969-70
Play-by-Play excitement of the 1969-70 season, 1 Compact Disk, $12.99
Rise of the Rangers, 1969-70

However, the Rangers back then did not rise very far. The 1969-70 NY Rangers lost in the first round to Boston, 4-2. Bonus points if you can ID the goalie pictured above.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rangers Stick It To Flyers

While it was 1-1 mid way through the third the Rangers were playing with purpose, discipline and in all honesty a certain domination and then it happened. The less disciplined Flyers, in the person of rookie forward, Jason Akeson, accidental clipped Carl Hagelin on the lip, while falling to the ice, which resulted in a double minor to the Flyers and instant eruption by the Rangers.

In a span of 47 seconds the Rangers scored two goals to take a 3-1 lead and eventually a 1-0 series lead. The goal scorers were Brad Richards and Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis assisted on both goals. Zuccarello had opened the scoring for the Rangers as his backhander tied the score in the first and Carl Hagelin closed out the scoring with about five minutes left.

Good signs which bode well for the rest of the series. Richards and St. Louis, one goal and four assists reuniting their Stanley Cup run with Tampa Bay. This is the ninth straight loss that the Flyers have suffered at MSG. Our fourth line shut down the Flyers top line of Giroux, Hartnell and Voracek with only two shots. Our defense was stifling, holding the Flyers to only 15 shots. The best defense is a good offense.

Lundqvist made 14 saves and backup goalie Emery had 32 for the Flyers. Flyer starter Steve Mason is a probable for Saturday. However, if the Rangers play with the same discipline and determination they showed last night, it won't matter and we will go to Philly leading two games to none. When they win game one at home the Rangers are 21-6 in playoff series, another good sign. Lets keep it going. Let's go Rangers.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Rangers Clinch Second in Metro

It wasn't pretty but two points and a win is a win, especially when it clinches a top playoff spot, 2nd place in the Metro. How bad was it? The Rangers took 18 shots in the second period and it wasn't until  the last one at 19:29 that they scored, Pouliot, 15th, to tie the game. Buffalo had one shot in the second period, by Stafford, and guess what? He scored. In the third period the Rangers got all of three shots and one by Nash off of a nifty feed by St. Louis was the game winner, Nash's 26th. The Rangers out shot the Sabres 30-24, Lundqvist and some guy named Hackett dueling it out. Lundqvist is 33-24-5 and Hackett is 1-5-1.

The Rangers gave the shirts off their backs to their loyal fans. I thought they were going to do it for the Sabres. I had that privilege one year getting the shirt of Michael Nylander, real cool. Nylander played 160 games for the Rangers and had 49 goals, 113 assists for 162 points. Not too shabby, a point a game guy. Of course, it helped that he had a winger by the name of Jaromir Jagr on his side.  No such luck this year, but St. Louis and Nash are making a stab at it.

So one more regular season game at The House of Horrors and Talbot should be in the net. However, the big news for the Rangers will be when The Big Mac returns and will it be full board. And hopefully Chris Kreider might be back. We need both of them and for St. Louis to resurrect. Should be an interesting playoff season and thanks to Anonymous and jb for straightening me out on the seedings.

Let's Go Rangers!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Prepping For The Playoffs

The Rangers as is their wont, smacked their patsies, the Carolina Hurricanes around, for a 4-1 victory in preparation for an opening round game, either against Tampa Bay or possibly Montreal, depending on their position. Exploding for two power play goals by Brad Richards, 19, 20th, the Rangers broke a 5-52 power play drought. They also may have finally unleashed Martin St. Louis, who had three assists. Stepan and Pouliot were the other goal scorers. Lundqvist was good again, named number three star, St. Louis, number two and Brad Richards number one and there I have named my obligatory five players.

The Rangers have two games left to solidify their spot against bottom feeder Buffalo at home Thursday and then it's on to the House of Horrors against Les Habs. It will be interesting to see whether Lundqvist gets a break, possibly against Buffalo, or AV decides to go with The King the rest of the regular season into the playoffs. The Rangers are going into the playoff with all cylinders clicking. AV went back to using four lines and that is when the Rangers are at their best, rotating four lines.

Two big question marks remain and that is the two injured players, Ryan "Big Mac" McDonagh and Chris, The Krasher, Kreider. Both are possible for the playoffs and darn it, I now have named seven players. I'm still concerned about our overall toughness entering the playoffs, but my buddy, my wine dealer, tells me that issue won't come up until we face the big, bad Bruins in the Eastern Region finals. Now that is confidence.

Meanwhile I will return to anonymity waiting for the puck to drop on the first playoff game, hopefully at MSG.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Still Missing The Point

The Rangers continued to go backward in their attempt to clinch a playoff spot blowing a 3-2 game to the Ottawa Senators and Sir Goon, Chris Niel. He throws the cheap shot, we retaliate, we get the majors, they get the minors. Such is life in the over-officiated NHL. Bettman and company have done a good job in taking hockey out of the NHL,

Back to what constitutes hockey in the NHL. I won't say the Rangers are struggling but they sure are sputtering. They still need a point to clinch a spot in the playoffs but they are playing like they are hoping Toronto and New Jersey will eliminate themselves. How about winning and get the best possible position they can get regardless of their opponent?

I don't know about you but I wish Martin St.Louis would stop trying to pass every time he gets the puck and start shooting every time his stick gets the puck. Back to the Niel incident, the Rangers have not had that type of tough, no nonsense player in eons. Until we get that type of guy it's hard to see us advancing against the top teams, especially the big, bad, Boston Bruins.

However, right now we have more mundane things to think about. Like winning the next game  against Carolina and clinching a playoff spot. And how about JT Miller?  Scored the winning goal for the Wolfpack and keeps producing. I don't believe he is a minor league player. Remember when the previous coach played games with Chris Kreider? Now he is one of our top six players, when he is healthy.

Complain, complain, complain. You are getting old Mike. Stop bitching and enjoy the moment, whatever it is. Yes, the Rangers will make the playoffs. Yes the Garden will make a lot of money. Yes the Rangers will be eliminated in the second round. Then we will turn to baseball and watch the most overpaid team in history crash and burn. Have a good weekend.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Missing The Point

When is a loss not a loss? When you play NHL hockey. The Rangers had a wonderful opportunity to put some distance between themselves and the Flyers but blew the win against Colorado by allowing a game tying goal by Tyson Barrie with 50 seconds left and lost in the shootout to Colorado last night. These last second fiasco's are killing thee Rangers. The last game saw a hit on McDonagh with 43.8 seconds left that put him on the self for a while, maybe even the playoffs.

A win would have given the Rangers a five point bulge on the Flyers with the Rangers having four games left and the Flyers six. If the Rangers finish second in the Metro, that puts them fourth in the East then they play Tampa Bay with home ice advantage which is better than finishing third and sixth and having to face Montreal with the Canadiens having home ice advantage. Understand? Good, now explain it to me.

The point was good but the bigger point right now is McDonagh's condition. While listed as "day to day" McDonagh does have pain and that is not a good sign. The Rangers will have a tough road without The Big Mac. Also with Chris Kreider also on the shelf this is another big piece of the Rangers that will be hard to replace. I thought that JT MIller would be a good replacement, but the coach doesn't think so. He said that Miller must shape up. The kid does great in Hartford and is so-so with the Rangers. A minor league player?  I think not. I think its how they utilize him. So he is back in the minors and the beat goes on.

Meanwhile, four games to play and the big story is the condition of the injured and how soon they will return.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

St. Loius Scores, Mac Goes Down

Somehow there is always a good news, bad news to a game. In a game that was mostly good news the Rangers are worried about the condition of Ryan McDonagh, who was nailed into the boards by Alex Burrows, and suffered a left shoulder injury with only 43.8 seconds to go into the game. We will find out later today the condition and how long the absence. We cannot afford to go without the Big Mac for too long, not with five games to go into the season and the magic number for the playoffs is three over Washington.

Now the good news in order of importance. The Rangers won, their 25th road game win, a franchise record. They now have ninety points, in 2nd place in the Metro, three points ahead of Philly who have two games in hand. The Rangers have five games left. Martin St. Louis scored his first Ranger goal, a short handed on a pass from Rick Nash, and his 30th of the season. Since St. Louis joined the Rangers their record is 10-4-1. Not bad.

Other Ranger goal scorers were Carcillo(4) and Pouliot(13) a power play goal. That gave the Rangers a two goal lead and after Kesler cut it to one, St. Louis goal was the clincher. The short handed goal was the Rangers 10th of the year tying them for second in the NHL for the most short handed goals.

Lundqvist was brilliant again with 34 saves and the Canuck goalie Eddie Lack had 28 saves. Lundqvist's performance was acknowledged by his former coach who is definitely on the hot seat in Vancouver as the Canucks sit in 10th in the West, six points out of a playoff spot. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

So now it's sweat it out time to see the condition of Ryan McDonagh. We need the Big Mac back and we need him back in 100% condition.