Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rangers Looking To Put A Cap On Washington

Well the Rangers survived trench warfare and now move on to the next step, guerrilla warfare, hand to hand combat. The Rangers go from the finesse of Crosby and Malkin to the brute force of Ovechkin and Backstrom. This is the fourth playoff meeting in five years for these rivals, the Rangers won two of the previous three and the Rangers won three of four this year in the regular season. Throw all of that out the window.

This will be a no holds barred series. The Caps will try to decapitate the Rangers. Pardon the pun but that's the reality. If the refs are on top of their game and are fair, the Rangers will get multiple power plays. The Ranger power play is awful. Instead of pass, pass, pass the Rangers should think, shoot, shoot,  shoot. Crowd and crash the net. One man in front of the net is not enough. And we need Nash and Kreider to do some damage, like hitting the back of the net.

But we have said this before, to no avail, but we continue to win. We continue to win 2-1 games and are becoming the cardiac kids. So batten down the hatches, get ready for a back yard brawl and bring your Zantac's with you. It might not be pretty at times but I assure you it will be rough, tough, nerve wracking and exciting.

Number one son, fresh off his five game prediction in series one, predicts the Rangers in six. Sounds good. Maybe he has an in. Don't care, only hope he is right. Heck, I would like the Rangers to sweep, but will take any number to advance to the next round and the anticipated rematch with Le Habs. I can dream too.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How Swede It Is

The Brännvin must be flowing in Sweden today as two local boys made good. Boy, did they make good. First, Lundqvist won another 2-1 game, again in OT. This is four 2-1 wins. In five games the King gave up 8 goals. The Pens 'elbowed' in the  only score off of him. Second, the speedy scraggly-haired kid, Carl Hagelin, scored the game winner in OT adding his name to other OT winners that have been series enders. Anyone think Matteau, Matteau, Matteau? And Adam Graves, both against the Devils.

So the Rangers await the winner of the Caps/Islanders game six at the Island today. The Caps are up 3-2. This game was another trench like game. Think of this. The Pens goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury gave up 11 goals in five games, had guys named Crosby and Malkin on his team and yet lost four of the five games. So the first step toward the ultimate goal has been taken and the Rangers get a mini rest to heal all wounds.

Speaking of wounds, Zuccarello was hit in the head by a McDonagh slap shot, left the game and his status is in doubt. Hopefully it is not a concussion. If it is the Ranger depth will be put to a test. It would give an opportunity to James Sheppard. He could step up. He is a tough kid.

I will now have to live through the playoff season with the knowledge that number one son correctly predicted the first round, five games. I think it's a first. However if he continues his 'hot streak' two things will happen. The Rangers will win the Cup and I will have a dozy of a summer. Hope he is right.

ICINGS:


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Empire State Building wears Ranger colors after game 5 win

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Twitter / @NYRangers:
Who has two thumbs and is headed to round 2?! #NYR

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Trench Warfare

How else to describe last night's game. It was wall to wall battles. Checks, hits. You want hits. The Rangers piled up 42 hits, the Pens 28. The only place to avoid a hit was sitting on the bench. This was grandson Nicholas type of game. Battle along the boards. Battle in front of the nets. Battle. Battle. Trench warfare.

The Rangers win in OT, 2-1, gives them a 3-1 lead heading into MSG Friday. Teams with 3-1 lead in playoffs win over 90% of the time. However, remember last year we came back from a 1-3 hole against the Pens and won the series. So there is always a however.

Kevin Hayes scored his first playoff goal and what a beauty, poking one past a prone Fleury, who was good again, to send the Rangers into ecstasy. The other Ranger goal, Brassard, was also scored on a scrum in front of Fleury, to tie the game. This is scrum hockey, trench warfare.

The Rangers have won three games with identical 2-1 scores. They have scored nine goals in four games. The Pens have scored seven goals in four games. The big outburst was game two with a 4-3 Pens win. The Rangers can't score and their power play sucks. It was 0-2 in the game, 2-17 in the series. It may yet be the death of them.

Number one son predicted the Rangers would win this series in five. It could be a long summer if he gets this one right and the remaining series right. The Rangers win. I'll take it. Right now it looks like Lundqvist on his game, the D strong, scrums in front of the nets and battle, battle, battle. Trench warfare.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rangers Gutsy Win

Well, the Rangers woke up. The coaches woke up and the result was a gutsy, gritty performance for the NHL's leading road team and now the Rangers have a 2-1 series lead. It was two big plays, outstanding D and excellent goaltending that silenced the chippy Pens and their home town crowd.

This game was not for the feint of heart.

The Rangers caught the Pens in a line change and Hagelin blew one past Fleury for a 1-0 lead on a beautiful pass from Yandle.  In the second period Staal shot the puck to the right of Fleury off the boards and there was Kreider to poke it in for a 2-0 lead. Dan Girardi, who excelled on D all night, got a second assist on both goals. So the D racked up four of the six points the team would be credited with.

The Pens stormed back in the third where they threw everything they had, 13 shots, plus Sydney Crosby's elbows, to score their one goal, Hornqvist, to make for a very exciting and nervous finish. Its amazing that a guy with Crosby's past problems  would go head hunting, on McDonagh. Its also amazing that the refs wouldn't call a penalty. Wonder why the guy is probably the least respected super star in the game.

The stars of the game were many. The D, led by Girardi was outstanding all night. Even Boyle was good and tough. Lundqvist was great despite being harassed, hit and taunted. The O led by Hagelin and Kreider were great and the fourth line was absolutely terrific all night. The refs, as usual, stunk. The NHL have the worst officiating in all of sports.

Now it's on to Wednresday when the Rangers have a chance to make a big step forward and put a lock on the series. Should be another good one. Not for the feint of heart. What was Dan Carcillo's line? "It's a man's game."

ICINGS:

For an excellent photo/vidclip recap of the game visit the Pensblog and their #hardparty:

End of Game 3 scrum behind Rangers net, Rangers win 2-1
End of game scrum

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rangers Powerless in Loss

The Rangers better wake up. The coach better wake up and start critiquing more. The Rangers have played two bad games in a row and have given a team, that was ready for the scrape heap, life. There was no excuse for last night's performance. Three shots in the first period. 1-7 on the power play. Hell, they even let Crosby arise from the dead with two killer goals.

I know we weren't going to sweep the Pens, but they have outplayed us in two games. We have not made them pay for their chipiness which has given us 12 power play attempts with only two goals.  Now we go to Pittsburgh with the home advantage belonging to the Pens. Yeah, I know we came back from 1-3 last year to eliminate them, but how often can you pull off that trick?

This power play, what a misnomer, will be the death of this team unless fixed. The looking for the perfect shot and the constant passing has got to stop. Shoot the puck, crash the net, cause mayhem in front of the net. The opposing net should be as crowded as the rush hour trying to board the number 4 train to the Bronx.

And the team was sloppy with thirteen turnovers, trouble getting through the neutral zone and a lack of desperation. These are the playoffs. Raise your level of play, Rick Nash, raise your intensity and play desperate, but smart. If not, 2014-15 might be remembered as the biggest debacle in Ranger history. Aah, the NHL playoffs. Not for the weak of heart.

ICINGS: The T/Birds had their annual dinner/awards night and Nicholas capped off the evening by winning the coveted T/Bird Award. The award is given to the player that shows excellence on and off the ice representing the true spirit of the team. Good job.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Too Darn Close

The Rangers scored two quick goals to start the game, Brassard and McDonagh, but the Pens came back in the second and the third period turned into trench warfare. But, we won 2-1, and took a 1-0 lead in the series. Only fifteen more to go.

The game winner was a power play goal by McDonagh. The Rangers were 1-5 on the power play but the significant part of the power play was that it kept Crosby off the ice for most of the first period. I believe he got a little over three minutes in the first. He seemed out of sync the rest of the game. He and Malkin had no shots in the third period.

The goalies, Marc-Andre Fleury and Lundqvist were very good. Fleury made 36 saves, Lundqvist 24. However, the big difference was in front of the nets. Fleury basically had open sights. Lundqvist had a mob in front of the net. There was much goalie interference, but the refs decided to let boys be boys. That has to change in the upcoming games and if the Rangers can't ward off the Pens then Kreider, Miller, Hayes and Nash have to start crashing the Pens net.

A minor, at least I hope its minor, was Girardi getting a puck in the face. The defense led by McDonagh and Staal was outstanding. I thought Staal played a rough, gritty game especially after Girardi's absence. But we need Dandy Dan, the shut down man, back. Can't afford to lose him even for one game.

So one down, fifteen to go and coach you are right. Don't critique a win.

ICINGS: update -- Girardi is okay, ready to go for game 2.

NY Post:
Rangers’ Girardi ‘ready to go’ after puck scare -- 
The Ironman remains in one piece.

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi returned to practice on Friday afternoon after he took a puck in the face near the end of Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Penguins in Game 1...

“They just checked to make sure all the teeth were still there,” said Girardi, who missed the final 9:29 after a Chris Kunitz shot deflected up and caught him near his right jaw. “Everything is fine. I’m ready to go.” ...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Rangers Ready to Rumble?

Yes they are. The Rangers seem poised to make a run at the Cup again and look more formidable than they did last year when they lost to the Kings in the finals in five games. Optimist? Maybe, but the Blueshirts look like they have it all and maybe with the exception of Carey Price and Montreal they may be the favorites to take it all.

What a record. President's Cup with franchise records in points, 113, and wins, 53. Also 27 road wins, tops in the NHL. In addition, a well rested Lundqvist goes in with 30 wins for the season, the 9th time. The only less 30 year was the season shortened lockout.

All hands on deck. Klein will be back, giving a solid six D-men and strong backup in Hunwick, who played well in Klein's absence. Also Keith Yandle has worked himself into the D-corps and has been picking up his over all game becoming a force on offense as the power play has shown some life and may be on the verge of breaking out. Klein will bolster the core three, Girardi, McDonagh and Staal.

The offense, bolstered by the outstanding play of the young guys, Hayes, Kreider and JT Miller, has been electric. Add the veterans like Nash, St. Louis, Brassard and Zuccarello has been solid all year. Add the dynamic, resilient Derek Stepan who has reached new heights lately and the Rangers are set to roll.

But it wont be easy. The East is stacked, one through eight, and any one of the eight could win the East. There can be no let down by the Broadway Blues. They must be on top of their game, every game, every period, every shift. Full sixty minutes from whistle to horn.

I may be wrong, but it says here the Rangers will go all the way. But first, the Penguins. First Crosby, Malkin, Fleury. It should be fun but it will be tough. It all starts Thursday at MSG. Let the games begin. Let's Go Rangers. Bring home the Cup.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The President's Trophy

I thought it was fitting that on the night the Rangers clinched top spot in the NHL, the President's Trophy, Cam Talbot was in the net and got the win. Yes, it was only 19 saves, but his biggest save was in saving the season. Remember when the King went down and there were cries for a veteran goalie. Not here. Not in this space. Monday night they gave him the Steve McDonald award and it says right here that tomorrow night they should give him the team MVP award.

Talbot went 21-9-4 with a GAA of 2.21, 4th in the NHL, and a save % of .926, 4th in the NHL. Those two numbers are better than Lundqvist's, as a comparison. But the King is back and if we are to go to the top, we need the King. But lets give this kid his due and thank him for his huge efforts during the Kings absence.

The Rangers continue to roll. The Devils went to Flyer Retro in an attempt to harm the Rangers, but the Rangers made them pay with another loss to the Rangers. After the Columbus game this one was a snorer. The Columbus game was one of the more exciting games I've seen in all my years. Columbus was on a roll of its own, nine straight wins, so the game was a prelude to a playoff game.

Two to go and then the real season starts. Remember, the last time the Rangers won the President's Trophy, 1994, we also won the Cup. Good omen.

ICINGS:

It's not a curse. 

Wikipedia: The idea of a President's Trophy curse, though, depends on misunderstanding the actual chances that any playoff team will win the Stanley Cup in a given year. In reality the team winning the President's Trophy has a better chance of also winning the Cup than does any other playoff seed: thus far 8 out of 28, or 29 percent, of President's Trophy winners have won the Cup. If all 16 playoff teams were rated equally each one would have only a 6 percent chance of going all the way. Also four President's Trophy winners have lost the Stanley Cup Final, so a President's Trophy team has nearly 50 percent odds of reaching the Final. Winning the President's Trophy is a positive, not negative, indicator for a team's chances of winning the Stanley Cup.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Rangers Whack Devils

The Rangers express continues to roll. Their third straight win. Fifty wins for the season. 107 points, tops in the East, tied with Anaheim for the most in the NHL. Henrik Lundqvist, player of the game, again, with 35 saves, his 28th win of the season, receiving a standing ovation after the Devils ruined his shutout bid. Thirteen Rangers had points with Dom Moore picking up two goals. Nash got his 42nd and Stepan scored a short handed goal. Other goal scorers were Brassard and Yandle. The Rangers are clicking on all cylinders after this 6-1 win. Well almost. The PP needs help.

The game actually lacked the intensity of previous games, but the Devils' Ruutu may have started something for next week's game at the Rock by slew footing Marc Staal. Some things never change. This guy has been doing this for years and no one has cleaned his clock.

The Rangers play a tough game Monday night against the red hot Columbus Blue Jackets, who are out of the playoffs, but have won nine straight. It's always a feisty game with a bunch of ex-Rangers wearing Columbus jerseys. Should be a goodie and yours truly will be there continuing a string of seeing at least one game a year since 1943, excluding the four service years, 1951-1955. It's a family affair and should be fun. These 84 year old legs will be quite tested.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Rangers Win Metro

Judging by the last couple of games, this is going to be one helluva playoff season. What a game. The Rangers took a 2-0 lead, watched it disappear and then a Miller deflection in front and the Rangers are Metro Champs and fighting to be East Champs and then NHL Champs. Miller redirected a McDonagh shot. Playing in front of a hometown crowd McDonagh had two big assists in the Rangers 3-2 win over the Wild.

Lundqvist was great. He is back in form with 28 saves and they gave him the black hat. They could have given it to McDonagh, or Miller, or Girardi. It was a team effort and they don't get any easier. The Rangers play Columbus next who have won 8 in a row. No sweat. Minnesota had won 5 in a row.

But, these are some games being played right now. The playoffs are going to be brutal and it's a fight for survival. Only the fittest and strongest will survive. The Rangers are playing to survive.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Krash'n Karry Kreider

One of these days, Chris Kreider is going to be a great player. Right now he is a very good player with some inconsistencies. But, as the saying goes, when he is good he is very good, and when he is bad he is even better. Last night, Kreider broke up a 2-2 game by barreling, no, like being shot out of a canon, on a beautiful pass from JT Miller, put the puck and himself in the net. Fortunately the goalie had the good sense to get out of the way of Kannonball Kreider.

The goal gave the Rangers a 3-2 win over the desperate Jets, snapping a two game losing streak and solidifying their hold on first place in the Metro. Now the trip continues in Minnesota and with St. Louis coming back, the Rangers fortunes are looking up again.

Speaking of potential stars, JT Miller continues to make a name for himself and continues to sparkle. Lundqvist was also back in form with 32 big saves and it is good to see the good ship, USS Rangers sailing smoothly again. Amazing what a solid win will do.