Thursday, May 29, 2014

We Want The Cup!

It was about as tense and nerve wracking a game could be and in the end the Rangers speed and defense and goal tending were much too much for Le Habs. Lundqvist made 18 saves and now is the franchise leader in playoff games won with 42. Yes, it was only 1-0 but the Rangers did have control of the game and would have broken it open if not for the heroics of Canadien goalie Dustin Tokarski, who made 31 saves, many spectacular. What a bounce back win after the debacle in Montreal.

The game winner was scored by 4th line center Dominic Moore, like St. Louis, going through a range of emotions this playoff season. The philosophy of coach Alain Vigneault to play four lines, paid off. Tonight the Rangers four lines pressured the Canadien D and you could see the D-men tiring in the third period. It was interesting that AV started the 4th line to open the game and they applied immediate pressure.

Subban was brilliant, playing 27:04 and leading his team with four shots on goal. Near the end it looked like he was out of gas. Dustin Tokarski, the rookie replacement, kept his team in the game. Brandon Prust and Derek Stepan hugged in the line shake, which was good. It was interesting that the Rangers posed with The Prince Of Wales Trophy and would you believe not one of them touched it. It's the next one they want and everyone will touch and kiss and proudly display it.

So the team that was down 1-3 to Pittsburgh when tragedy struck as ST. Louis lost his mother at the young age of 63 looked finished. However, it seemed to rally around that heart ache and swept Pittsburgh and then Montreal winning seven of the last nine. We await the winner of Los Angeles and Chicago. It is the Rangers first Stanley Cup appearance since the 1994 Champs.

We want the Cup. Let's go get it. Let's Go Rangers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rangers Tank In Montreal

There is no other way to describe it. It was a classic tank job. Our All World goalie was pulled. There was little discipline, we took a penalty, leading to a goal, 27 seconds into the game. Our power play was 1-7. Our defense was porous, the coverage was awful and giving up seven goals in a game five of the Eastern Conference Finals is unforgivable. Gimme a break! The best way to remember this game is to forget it.

As you all know I like to go back and tug at history. My family says I become too negative at times. So I go back two years and I am sitting at the Rock with number two son and we have come back from a two goal deficit to tie the game to go to OT. We are down in the series 3-2 after getting off to a 2-1 lead. And we lose. We lose because of poor coverage around the net. We lose because our defender is in back of our goalie instead of picking up the loose guy at the corner of the net. We cannot blow another series lead. We cannot!

But I digress. We have two shots to wrap this up. Les Habs have to win two games, we have to win one. We pulled this trick on the Pens coming back from a 1-3 hole to sweep them away. We don't want the Canadiens to do that to us. Let's repeat that. We don't want the Canadiens to do that to us. But, as I often say, we have to get back to basics. We can't play helter skelter hockey. As a kid growing up on the lower East Side of Manhattan I never saw a pond hockey game. Last night I saw one. It's fun for kids, it's horrible for pros.

We showed a lot of fight coming back from a 4-1 hole to tie it at four. So that is good, we have the fight, but we have to have discipline. So it is the big game six at the Garden, the clincher. We have the best money goalie in the NHL and Alain Vigneault has proven to be a good coach in critical times. As Mike Keenan was the right coach for the 1994 Rangers, AV is the right coach for the 2014 Rangers. Let's take the next step Thursday night and punch our ticket for the Cup finals.

Monday, May 26, 2014

St. Louis Gets Blueshirts Closer

Marty St. Louis scores OT game winner, in 3-2 victory over Montreal
Well all the gabbing and whining stopped, at least for a while, and they got back to playing hockey last night. Well I think it was hockey, but what mattered was that the Rangers won in OT on a great goal by the guy with the heavy heart, Martin St. Louis, who at the 6:02 mark of OT sent the Rangers to Montreal with a 3-1 game lead.

It was fitting that Marty would end it. He got robbed at least twice by the young kid from western Canada, Dustin Tokarski, and the winner was a similar shot, only more zest and more precision. So Martin St, Louis, the little engine that could, who suffered through a drought in the regular season has now scored his 6th playoff goal this season and his 4th career OT goal. So the Rangers go back to the former House Of Horrors with a chance to clinch and move on to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994.

But it wasn't easy. The Rangers gave the Canadiens 8 power plays and Le Habs were successful once, a blast from the point by Subban that deflected past Lundqvist to tie the game at two with 18 minutes to go in the third. The Rangers were 0-3 on the power play. Boyle and Pouliot took two penalties each with Pouliot taking a horrendous holding the stick at the 30 second mark of the OT.

JT Miller, who subbed for Stepan, no Therrien, Stepan didn't make it back, took an early penalty and then was injured in the 2nd period when he was slammed into the goal by Andrei Markov. BTW, coach Therrien had a steady conversation going with the refs all night. It paid off for him. Did you see Subban give his best imitation of Dancing With The Stars, when he was nudged by Nash and another Ranger got the penalty?

So we will have another day of Face The Nations and then its back to hockey. The Rangers will have their work cut out for them but if they get back to basics, solid fore check, quick on the puck, strong D and solid goal tending we will be going to the Finals, BTW, Lundqvist was good with 27 saves, Tokarski had 26. Since the tragedy they hit St. Louis, the Rangers have won six of seven. Let's keep it going.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Frontier Justice

One thing about Frontier justice. It was simple and predictable. You rustle cattle and they catch you, they hang you. You kill someone who is unarmed and they catch you, they hang you. Sometimes they even hang you when they catch you for a crime someone else committed. And it didn't matter who or what you were. Crime and punishment is a little more complicated in the NHL.

Name recognition and status means a lot in the NHL. Very important on who and what you are. So if you are a big super star and someone squirts water on you, they are fined. If you are a big super star and you stick your hockey stick in his groin area that goes into the "let boys be boys" category.

The arbiters in the frontier days, were the posse. The arbiters in the NHL are the officials, refs and linesmen. The posse didn't really see anything but reacting to what they were told. Sometimes the refs and linesmen don't see things either. Like none of the four officials saw Brandon Prust's, late blind side hit on Derek Stepan which resulted in a broken jaw and no penalty. Do you realize that the four officials were probably the only ones in the world, Garden crowd and TV crowd, who didn't see the blind side hit to the head. Sorry, one of the refs saw it and said it was a clean hit. So he really didn't see it either.

The missed call cost the Rangers the game. Instead of a 5 minute power play, the ensuing plays saw Carcillo lose his cool get a gamer, a ten game suspension and the cheap shotter get all of two games. And the chief whiner, coach Michel Therrien, who is still complaining about Kreider running into Price, calling Prust's hit, a good hockey hit. Therrien will keep whining. It's in the genes of him and the Montreal organization. After all, these are Le Habs, the proud owners of 24 Stanley Cup. They are entitled.

And now he is getting help. Good players like Briere, Suppan, Gallagher are joining in the whining. And don't forget Suppan's slewfoot of Dorsett with Dorsett being held by the ref and no penalty called. And why not? There is a new sheriff in town in NHL headquarters. The Rangers should disregard all the noise. Whether Stepan plays or doesn't shouldn't matter. The Rangers should come out with the same determination and grit they did in game one and set up the elimination game in The House Of Horrors. Go Rangers! Beat the whiners!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Tokarski, Refs, Stuns Rangers

So now it's a dogfight. What seemed like a coronation on Sunday night has turned into a must win game. Yes, a must win because if the Rangers go back to Montreal for game five on Tuesday at  Bell Centre tied at two, it will turn once again into The House Of Horrors.That can not happen.

The Rangers, with the assistance of the refs, blew it last night. Oh, I know the kid, Dustin Tokarski, was terrific, 35 saves. The Rangers had 14 shots in the first period, one goal, 13 shots in the second, no goals. The second period had the save of the night, when Tokarski robbed Martin St. Louis with a great glove save. The second period also had the blow of the night when Andrei Markov's shot somehow eluded Lundqvist.

There were tainted goals. Danny Briere's shot went off of the skate of Ryan McDonagh giving Montreal a 2-1 lead with just 3:02 left in the game. Chris Kreider's goal with 29 seconds left went off Alexi Emelin. The winning goal went in when a Lundqvist clearing hit Alex Galchenyuk and when into the net for the winner.

But the story of the night was the horrible officiating. Brandon Prust should have been hit with a five minute major and a game misconduct for hitting Derek Stepan in the head. It was not an accident and it definitely was on purpose. That was a major miss. How could four officials miss that play? That no call eventually resulted in Carcillo being ejected from the game when he ran Prust and shoved the ref. And what about "Super" Subban's slew foot on Dorsett? The ref was right there and he grabbed Dorsett to keep him away from Subban. Don't tell me the officials don't influence the game. I guess all that whining by Canadien head coach, Michel Therrien, has paid off. The NHL has always had a soft spot in their hearts for Le Habs.

So the officials will look at these infractions and Carcillo will be suspended three games and Prust will sit a game and get a nasty reprimand and coach Therrien will moan that there is no justice in the NHL. So it's Sunday night with the same incompetent officials. God help us.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Lundqvist Tears Down The House

It's over! The House Of Horrors is no more. It was permanently buried in the ice of the Bell Centre forever more. A band of Rangers led by by their superb and dynamic goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, crushed it once and for all.

The mantra has been that in big games, big players play big. So there they were. The big players playing big in a big game that may serve as a stamp for a team that is slowly evolving into greatness. The sleek, smooth skating Ryan McDonagh tying the game just 17 seconds after the Habs had taken a 1-0 lead.

The revitalized Rick Nash, scoring his second goal in two games, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead off of a beautiful feed by the relentless Chris Kreider. Then the coup de grĂ¢ce, the aggrieved Martin St. Louis putting the dagger in, upping the Ranger lead to 3-1.

None of it would be possible without the heroics of the King of hockeydom, Sir Henrik Lundqvist. He was superb, masterful, energetic and unflappable. He made forty saves. Forty. The one goal against him was the result of an ill fated clearing on his part that wound up in the net. After that he was an impenaterable fortress. A rock. He was The King. He was exorcising all the demons that had built up over the years in this cathedral of hockey, the Montreal Bell Centre.
----
ICINGS:

Some more thoughts about The King...

CBS Sports:
Canadiens goalie least of worries if they can't solve Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers GM Glen Sather had the right idea: Sometimes you just have to clap (via @MyRegularFace).

SNYRangers Blog:
Henrik Lundqvist, last night and the level he is at

A flashback in Montreal, a RangerPundit oldie from Jan. 2012:
One Night in Montreal Makes a Rangers Fan Humble

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rangers Beat The House

The Rangers started the process of getting the House Of Horrors off their back with a stunning 7-2 rout of the Canadiens, taking a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. It was fitting that Martin St. Louis started the rout with the first goal of the game. If the Canadien crowd wasn't fully silenced it was a few minutes later when Zuccarello put the team up 2-0.

The Canadiens cut the lead to 2-1 with a goal by Bourque while the Canadiens had six skaters on the ice. All four officials missed it. Where is the replay? Oh sorry, only controversial goals. Hey, wasn't this a controversial goal? No problem, the Rangers came back with two quickies from Kreider and Richards. It was all over after that. McDonagh, Stepan and Nash, yes Nash, closed out the scoring.

There were many, many positives besides the big win. Lundqvist won a game in Montreal. The aggrieved St. Louis sparked the rout. Nash scored a goal. Dominic Moore was great subbing for the injured Brassard, injured early, and listed as day-to-day. Eleven Ranger players had at least a point with McDonagh racking up four, 1 goal, 3 assists. Oh yes. Number two son was at the game with his Andy Bathgate jersey. He must have wowed the crowd.

The Canadiens were being heralded for their speed game, but it was the Rangers constantly out skating them and the Rangers controlled the puck and the ice most of the time. The best defense remains the best offense. Goalie Carey Price was pulled in the third and it's up in the air whether it was poor play or an injury suffered when Kreider ran into him.

One note of caution. In the 1979 finals we beat Montreal in the first game, had a 2-0 lead in the second game and then they blitzed us to win the next four games. However, we have now won four straight in rather impressive fashion and I do believe that the tragedy that hit Martin St. Louis has inspired the team to its best hockey of the year. Plus, our young legs are really carrying the team and Ken Dryden is no longer the Canadien goalie.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Original Six: Rangers over Les Habs In Seven

Would you believe that the Rangers are in the Final Four? Or as they say in college hockey, The Frozen Four. Imagine, thirty teams in the NHL and the Rangers are one of four still around. OK, you technocrats, one in five, we have to wait for tonight's west coast closer to decide the fourth team. But when that's over, three of the four teams will be original six teams. It says here that it will be Rangers-Blackhawks for the Cup.

An original six matchup for the Cup. Number one city, USA, vs number two city, USA. Broadway vs State Street. New York Bay vs Lake Michigan. The Big Apple vs The Windy City. Getting ahead of myself? Yes. But when you dream, dream big.

The battle for the Eastern Crown should be just that a battle. The Pundit's founding fathers wanted me to pick the Rangers in six, winning it on home ice. I opted for seven for a couple of reasons. Number one. The Rangers don't do anything easy and six games would be easy. Number two. Past history against the Canadiens, especially in Montreal has not been good to the Rangers. Number three. Lundqvist has a goalie opposite him that is also a big time goalie. Carey Price has given the Rangers fits over the years.

The last time, Henrik won in Montreal was March 17, 2009. That's over five years ago. 2009 was not a particular good year for the Pundit. He had his 'conversation' with The Stealth, started dialysis and had a triple bypass. Also, the Rangers had lost eight straight at Montreal, prior to this season being out scored 30-7. So we forget the past and move on like we did against Pittsburgh, after we were down 1-3. Forget the past, move on to the present.

Lundqvist is tied with Crawford of Chicago with a .931 save %. Price is at .928. GAA has Lundqvist at 1.99 and Price at 2.15. No banana here. Should be quite a duel. PK Subban is 6th in scoring in the playoffs with 12 points. Brad Richards is 17th with 9 points. Thomas Vanek is 8th in goals scored with 5. There are three Canadiens and three Rangers with four goals each. So on paper this looks like an even-steven match up that is going to pivot on one goalie rising to the occasion.

Forget the House Of Horrors, forget past performances. The Canadiens have won 24 Cups, the last one in 1993. The Rangers have won 4, the last one in 1994. Lundqvist has to out play Price. Lundqvist's task is more daunting as he will face more fire power than the Rangers have shown. Notice, I said have shown. The Rangers have more potential that has not shown up yet. Nash, Kreider, Stepan and don't forget St. Louis.

St. Louis will be playing before a hometown crowd in Montreal. In deference to the NHL's schedule the funeral for St. Louis's mom will be held on Sunday. There is a game Saturday and a game Monday. The entire Ranger team will be in attendance at the funeral, as it should be.

So there you have it. Rangers in seven. Lundqvist out playing Price, ever so slightly. Martin St. Louis scoring the winning goal in a seventh game Ranger win 1-0. As I've said. When you dream, dream big. What's that other line. When you go, go first class or stay home. The Rangers are going first class and will charge into the Windy City to meet the defending Cup champs, the Blackhawks. Chicago will continue to be the number two city.

New York v. Montreal


via Canadiens.NHL.com

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lund-qvist, Lund-qvist, Lund-qvist!

That was the cheers coming from the family men last night. Number one son and grandson in one house. Number two son in his house and the old man in his. We texted all night during the game with the highlights, shortfalls and of course Lundqvist. He was amazing. Yes, he made 35 saves and in the last five or six minutes he did things and saves that you only see in the movies. I would say he was unbelievable, but with Lundqvist everything is believable.

He has taken the Rangers on his back and in three straight must win elimination games has given up one goal per game as the Rangers came back from a 1-3 hole in the playoffs for the first time in their history. And while his overall record in playoff games is not that great, 38-43 he has a GAA of 2.25 in those games and a save % of .921. So the numbers are there while the team isn't always with him.

But this team, due to a tragedy, has bonded together and is with Henrik. The death of Martin St. Louis's mother has taken on a mission for this team and they are using it to their full advantage. All kind of strange and good things are happening. Last night, the oft criticized Brian Boyle, by this post, scored the first goal on passes from fellow 4th liners Moore and Dorsett. The team that scored the first goal has won the game in this series.

Then it was Richards, last years pariah, scoring the game winner on passes from the grieving St. Louis and Stepan. Jokinen sandwiched a goal in between, so it was 2-1 going into the third. The Pens poured thirteen shots on goal in the third period. In the last 5 or 6 minutes they even threw the kitchen sink at him, but to no avail. This was Henrik Lundqvist they were shooting at. New Yorkers don't call him the King for nothing. He's earned it. He deserves it.

I've said it many times in this post before. The Rangers will go only so far as Lundqvist will take them. Get on board fellows. We are going for a long ride whose destination is not known yet.

Long live the King!

ICINGS: Lundqvist was fined $5,000.00 for splashing Crosby with a water bottle at the end of game six. Crosby got a free ride for sticking Moore in the groin with a stick. I guess in the eyes of the NHL "the spritz is mightier than the stick."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rangers Push Pens To The Brink

Sure I know the series is tied at three. but it is the Rangers who have come back from the 1-3 hole and now have pushed the Pens to a game seven. The pressure is on both teams, but a little more on the Pens as their super star duo have been held fairly in check and Crosby has been reduced to after whistle scrums and extra stick work and escaping penalties reserved for the Carcillo's and his ilk.

Be advised that though the Rangers are 9-2 in their last 11 game sevens they have never come back from a 1-3 hole to win the series. But they have Lundqvist who has rung up that 9-2 record and recorded 36 saves last night. He was beaten on one shot, actually a Minnesota Fats billiard shot of Brandon Suter shooting a shot off Ranger D-man John Moore and then off the skate of Ranger D-man Kevin Klein's skate at the far post and into the net.

This was an emotional game and it hit its peak when at 3:34 of the first period Martin St. Louis scored the games first goal. First goal of the game, on Mother's Day and scored by the guy who lost his mother a few day's earlier. The assists were given to Stepan and Stralman, but I believe the biggest assist was from his mom. Wherever mom's are, living or dead, they know when their children are hurting and know how to make it well. Trust me on this one. So thanks mom, for trying to make your son whole again and thanks from his team mates for a great win. Believe.

The other big story was Henrik Lundqvist. He was great. The Garden rocked with competing chants of Marty, Marty, Marty and Hen-reek, Hen-reek, Hen-reek. It was great, it was old times  as the King reigned supreme. The other story was Derick Brassard, who gave the Rangers the big 3-1 lead with his 4th goal of the playoffs.

All in all a great big emotional night. Can the Rangers complete the comeback on Tuesday? I think so and I think that mom just might show up one more time. Belated Mother's Day everybody.

ICINGS:

Crosby's antics have even Hank worked up. Here's the King giving Crosby a squirt after the game ended:


via ThePensblog

update:
Blueshirt Banter:
Henrik Lundqvist fined $5,000 for water bottle-gate

Ranger Rants:
Lundqvist fined $5,000

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rangers Stun Pens, 5-1.

It's like they drew it up in the locker room on the board. Attack, attack, attack. Shoot, shoot, shoot. Score, score, score. Heck the Rangers got more shots in the first period last night, 17, then they got in the previous game, 15. The game was decided in the opening minutes. Following a Pen penalty and a beautiful play by Kreider on the PP, it was Kreider who scored the first goal at 9:36. Then Lundqvist made two nice saves and then Brassard scored his first goal at 15:23 and it was basically over.

Oh, the Pens threatened when Malkin tip toed through two Rangers D-men who refused to put a body on him and it was 2-1. But Brassard and McDonagh less than a minute apart made it 4-1 and Klein put in an empty netter and that wrapped it up. The Rangers were 2-3 on the PP, the Pens 0-4 and the Rangers out shot the Pens 35-32.

The game was played with the backdrop of the death of Martin St. Louis mother the previous night. He played with a heavy heart but did play which was inspiring to the rest of the team. The big test will come Sunday night, Mother's Day, at the Garden.

So the Rangers get another game at the Garden and James Dolan is all smiles. Seven home games in these playoffs and that's a lot of linguine in the Dolan's pocket. Big game. If the Rangers pull it off it's game seven in Pittsburgh and all bets are off. The seventh game can be a doozie.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

"Pitt-iful"

It's hard to imagine the Rangers being in a bigger hole than they were on Wednesday. Yet here they are and the hole is getting bigger. Talk of coming back from a 1-3 hole, is just that, talk. Anyone who thinks that Nash and St. Louis can out duel Crosby and Malkin are prime candidates to buy some bridges in the New York area.

The gold dust twins, Crosby and Malkin, put on quite a show. Nash and St. Louis were awful. St. Louis played like a scared rookie, coughing up the puck freely and Nash was his inept self. With the game tied at one, Nash blew a chance to give the Rangers a lead and then turning the puck over leading to a Pens short handed goal.

The Rangers did close to 3-2 on Zuccarello's shot that Fleury flubbed but then came Malkin with a beautiful feed to Kunitz and it was all over. This was probably the Rangers worse performance of the playoffs. Is it fatigue? Tired? I think it's more like a talent gap.  The Pens lost D-man Orpik in the first period but the Pens stood tall with five D-men.

Lundqvist looked as annoyed as I have ever seen him. And why not. Pens continue to find the back of the net off of Rangers sticks and skates and legs and the Rangers being out shot 27-15. The Rangers got progressively worse as the game went on with shots of 6, 5 and 4 in each of the periods. Power plays? Both teams were scoreless, Pens 0-3 and Rangers 0-2. Maybe the Rangers can delay the wake.

ICINGS: Reader anonymous thinks the Rangers are suffering from the 'curse of Sean Avery' as the previous coach forced him into retirement. How about the previous coach forcing Gaborik out of town and now he is on a mission to bring the cup to LA?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Rangers In A Big Hole

You know the Rangers are in big trouble when the other teams goalie out plays our goalie. For the second straight game Mark-Andre Fleury shut out the Rangers, 3-0. This time Fleury did it in grand style making 35 saves. So in two games Fleury has stopped 57 Ranger shots as the gang that couldn't shoot straight is now in a 1-2 hole in this playoff series.

And it was the power play again. This game 0-4 and 3-41 in this years playoffs. Making matters worse both Penguin goals, prior to Malkin's empty netter, were scored at the end of Ranger power plays.  Both goals were on breakaways, first Crosby  and then Jokinen. I thought Lundqvist should have stopped Crosby, number two son disagrees. Regardless, the power play is killing us in more ways than one. It all happened in the second period which seems to be our period of doom in these playoffs.

While I was pleased that JT Miller was inserted into the lineup I was quite upset with the fact that Carcillo got scratched. The coach also inserted Fast for Dorsett. Miller okay, Fast maybe, but Boyle should have sat not Carcillo. The Rangers have very little toughness so why scratch admittedly the toughest guy on the team. Plus he fires up the team and the Rangers have an excellent won, lost record with Carcillo in the lineup. Diaz was a good sub on the blue line and he fired some good ones from the point.

So tomorrow night is do or die. Yes, do or die. If we lose there is no way this team comes back from a 1-3 hole. No way. In all fairness there is little the coach can do to turn this around. Nash and St. Louis are huge disappointments. Stepan and Richards could help and boy, do we miss Kreider.

It comes down to basics. The Rangers have to play a 60 minute game, or more. It goes back to one shift at a time, no more no less. The power play has to be revamped. SOMEONE MUST BE IN FRONT OF THE NET AT ALL TIMES ON THE PP. SOMEONE MUST BE IN FLEURY"S FACE AT ALL TIMES.  We let this series get away from us and tomorrow night we have to start taking it back.

Monday, May 05, 2014

MIA – Ranger Offense

That old bugaboo, the power play did the Rangers in, again, last night with an 0-4 performance that hiked their futility to 3-37 in these playoffs. This is the seventh straight game without a power play goal and the current streak is 0-26. It's about as ugly as it can get and it no longer is a joke, it's life or death.

Last night's malady affected the entire game. The Rangers were 'awarded' three power plays in the opening 9:04 and came up empty. Nash, Richards, Stepan, St. Louis, Zuccarello, Brassard and Pouliot all were futile. Dominic Moore, Boyle and Dorsett got all of 8 seconds of power play time. The coach, AV, said he is responsible for the power play and he will fix it. Coach, you can't fix it by rounding up the usual suspects and sending them out on the ice. Nash was particularly bad with a minus one, 3 shots, no hits and got 4:36 of power play time. He has scored one goal in 21 Ranger playoff games. Meanwhile some guy named Marian Gaborik is on a one man tear and mission in LA, tying the game late and winning it in OT. Sure could use a 40 goal scorer like that. But Nash wasn't the only culprit. Six Rangers got no shots on goal. The inept power play buoyed the Pens and flattened the Rangers for the rest of the game.

Thank God for Henrik Lundqvist. He made 32 saves and kept us in the game. Dan Carcillo also continued his gutsy play. In 11:54 of ice time he had two shots and dished out five hits. Pouliot also dished out five hits, but got zero shots on goal. The Pens out hit the Rangers 35-32. Fleury got a shutout with 22 saves, but I'm stressed to think of one good Ranger attempt or shot that was difficult. In fact I don't remember a Ranger crowding the goalies space at all.

The Ranger offense to be honest was offensive. Thank God there is a game tonight. Last night was one to forget. BTW. This is the Rangers 13th straight loss when they are up by one game in a playoff. Someone asked the coach if he thought the Rangers were tired with all these games being one right after the other. His response was, "If Lundqvist isn't tired no one else should be." Good shot coach. Now fix the power play and the offense before it's too late.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

If It Aint Broke-But It Is!

The Rangers are in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, have taken home ice advantage from the terrible Pens and yet all the blame stream media is intent on talking about is the woeful power play, which is now 3-33 in the playoffs and is threatening last years 4-44 debacle which led to last year's elimination, bad news, and the coaches firing, good news.

In a way I agree with coach AV's approach. Cool and calm. However, it has to be fixed if we are to make a serious run. I have a suggestion. A simple suggestion. After all, haven't my other suggestions been simple and effective, like get rid of the coaches. This one is more positive. We are not getting rid of anyone and its nothing more than a minor adjustment. First of all leave the points to the two sets of defensemen. First pair, Girardi and McDonagh and second pair to Staal and Stralman. One minute each pair, no overload, no tiring and no miscues and giveaways. Now the forwards. Ready. Dominic Moore, Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot. Moore is relentless and puts the puck on net from any angle. I still remember in his rookie year scoring a tying goal with seconds left against Tampa Bay, with a back-hander from behind the net off the goalie, into the net. Sounds like a Michael Jordan commercial.

Brian Boyle, he of hands of clay, who would have trouble shooting the puck into an empty ocean, whose sole purpose would be to stay in front of the net, pushing off big defensemen and making a nuisance of himself, ala Sean Avery. Aah, where are you now that we need you? And then the wild card. Pouliot. I say wild card because this talented guy has a penchant for taking some of the dumbest penalties especially when the Rangers are on the power play. However, he is relentless in his pursuit of the puck and has a deadly shot. A big plus is that none of this trio are perimeter players, they are go to the net guys. The backup trio would be Brassard, Carcillo and Zuccarello. OK AV, there is the plan. No fuss, no big deal. Try it. It will work. My other two suggestions worked.

ICINGS: Thrilled Grandpa. At last night's T/Birds awards dinner, Nicholas received the most improved player award. Made it all the way back from his shoulder injury. Skate hard, have fun.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Rangers Beat Pens In OT (Twice)

Years from now there will be a trivia question. Who is the only team in hockey history to score two goals in OT in a playoff game? That's what happened last night as the Rangers stunned the Pens before a packed crowd in the CONSUL Energy Center going one up in the playoff series. It was a heck of a hockey game. In fact it was three , maybe four, hockey games.

The first period was all Rangers, taking a two goal lead on goals by Pouliot, (3) and Richards, (3) and out shooting the Pens 13-8. The second belonged to the Pens, tying the game on goals by Stempniak, (2) and Neal, (2) and out shooting the Rangers 15-4. The third belonged to the fans in an exiting scoreless back and forth period where the Pens out shot the Rangers 12-8. The OT belonged to the ages as the Rangers out shot the Pens 2-1 and that one was the difference as Brassard scored his first of the playoffs.

Of course it wasn't easy. Brassard's game winner was waved off so Pouliot made sure with the punctuation mark to end any and all discussions. Pouliot, who has been criticized in this space, was the star of the game. His first goal was a thing of beauty and even though his second goal didn't count his perseverance and grittiness was evident all night. Lundqvist was number two star with 34 saves and number three was Brassard with the game winner. Kudos to the defense which was great and monster on ice numbers were put up by Staal, 26:03, McDonagh, 23:49, Stralman, 22:59 and Girardi, 20:51, the new four horsemen.

Of course the Ranger power play was awful again going 0-4 and now sits at 3-33 in the playoffs. Maybe we don't need a power play. Maybe we should decline the penalties. Yes, Rick Nash did not score a goal but neither did Crosby and neither did Malkin. So I'll take that trade off any time. So the Rangers now have home ice advantage and the Pens will come out swarming Sunday night. Keep it cool, keep it consistent and remember one shift at a time.







Friday, May 02, 2014

Rangers In 6

The founding fathers of the Ranger Pundit post got together yesterday and by consensus we decided the Rangers would beat the Penguins in six in the second round of the playoffs. During the regular season the two teams split four games right down the middle. Each won a regulation game and each won a shootout. The Rangers scored 14 goals, the Pens scored 13 goals. Look for close games look for some over time games. There are other similarities. Sydney Crosby was without a goal in six games against Columbus and Rick Nash did not score a goal in seven games against the Flyers. The Pens have a strong backup to Crosby in Malkin, the Rangers have no strong backup but score by committee. So clutch scorers are Dominic Moore and Daniel Carcillo are necessary and critical. The two goalies are among the top performers after the first round of playoff games. Lundqvist is 2nd in save % with a .957 and Marc-Andre Fleury is 3rd with a .948 %. Both teams seem to be fresh and in top condition despite the toughness of the first round. The one big edge lies in the special teams. The Pens power play was 6 for 29 against Columbus the Rangers were 3 for 29 with zero for the last 21. Both teams penalty kills sagged in the opening round so this may be the power play playoff series. If so the Rangers will be in trouble. So why the Rangers, and why in six. The team seems to be hitting its stride. McDonagh is back all the way, Stralman is playing his best hockey, Staal and Girardi are rock solid and Klein and Moore play a consistent 15 minute game. The key to the defense is a hard forecheking sets of forwards. They need to forecheck hard and need to get back to neutralize Pittsburgh's D-men who want to join the rush. Finally, the Rangers are loose and stress free. AV may have some short comings but he coaches on an even keel. No bombastic outbursts, no petulant fits, no facial distortions and grimaces. The guy who did that lost his job yesterday.Good riddance. So the Rangers in six. Let the games begin. One game at a time. One period at a time. One shift at a time. Let's Go Rangers!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

O Danny Boy

Before Mike, the Ranger Pundit, went on an early dialysis appointment this morning he sent me a few of his notes regarding the game. A game after which we both wanted to start singing "O Danny Boy" in praise of Dan Carcillo. That other Dan, Girardi, and the rest of the Rangers defensemen also deserve a verse of song for manning the barricades during the ferocious Flyer flurry in the 3rd period. So Lundqvist and the defense preserved the 2-1 win. What's new about that? Of course, there was never any doubt with a game 7 in the Garden, was there?

Carcillo's goal off an incredible Zuccarello pass woke up the MSG crowd. Zuc's pass has to rate as one the all time greats. Still scratching our head over why Carcillo did not play in games 5 & 6 after proving he brought some fire in games 3 & 4? AV has to find a way to keep both Carcillo and Miller in the lineup. They bring fresh legs and toughness. Carcillo has two goals in three games and he is one of three Rangers with a Cup win. If anyone should sit, it's Boyle. He plays like he's stuck in molasses.

The team looks ready for the Pens. They don't look tired like in past years. The coach has to get some credit for that. This administration hasn't rope-a-doped the team into a punch drunk stupor.

Nash absolutely has to get going, 0 goals in 7 games against the Flyers, will not cut it against the Pens. McDonagh picked up his game after a terrible game 6. Stralman played his best game of the year. The Rangers will need more of that against a Pittsburgh team that comes in rested and with a very favorable schedule. Three games in four days against the Penguins will test the legs of everyone.

Let's go Rangers.