Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Cup Playoffs’

Who Will Step Up?

Posted: May 25, 2012 by Keith Stone in hockey, NHL
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This happened exactly 18 years ago. There’s no way tonight can match the theatrics, but somebody is going to have to do something. King Henrik can’t win it all himself. The entire team is going to have to make plays. Take the shots when you have them, make smart passes, get your stick on a few pucks, and as always, block some shots. That’s what the 2012 Rangers are all about. Making the little plays that contribute to the greater good of the team. In that way, the Rangers can ensure that the spirit of ’94 lives on. Guaranteed.

Devils 5, Rangers 3. Devils lead series 3-2

Depending on whether you’re a glass-half-full or half-empty type of guy, you could look at Game 5 in two ways. You could say the Rangers came back from three goals down and dominated play most of the game or you could say that their defense was sloppy and Henrik Lundqvist was less than royal. Either way, the Rangers’ Cup is running out quickly. Again, they missed chances, took silly penalties (EMBELLISHING!?!?!?), and let up at the most inopportune time.

For whatever reason, this team play best when their backs are against the wall. Their weakest moments always seem to be right after they score a big goal. I can think of several games, most notably both Game 7’s, when the Rangers throttled back their aggression after taking a lead or tying a game. It may not always result in a goal for the opponents, but maybe a drawn penalty or a quality scoring chance. Luckily, the Rangers won’t have that problem anymore. Their complacency is stifling.

I think it’s obvious that they’re the better team in the series. It’s just that after winning Game 1 and 3, they let their guard down. Even yesterday, it was almost like they expected to win and forgot to play for the first 10 minutes. Maybe they’re just tired. They’re going on almost eight months of a brutal schedule but they’ve come to far to go down now. Their backs are as far against the wall as it gets. They’re through the wall. Game 6 in hell with a spot in the Finals on the brink? I say this team responds.

Capitals 2, Rangers 1. Series tied 3-3

That must have been the absolute worst way to come out and start the game. A penalty where the defenseman gets beaten, and an Ovechkin power play goal. If the Caps didn’t score in the first five minutes, all the pressure would have been on them after the way they blew Game 5. But that goal got all the jitters out of the way and allowed them to get back on track. Otherwise, this game played out like the others in the series. Great goaltending and D, and Washington got the lucky bounce on the second goal. That was enough to send it to Game 7. Luckily, there’s two days off so Holtby’s momentum should slow down a little bit, but both teams are very evenly matched heading into Saturday. Hopefully, the Garden will be the difference.

Rangers 3, Capitals 2 (OT). Rangers lead series 3-2

Valeri Zelepukin couldn’t have done it any better. There’s not much more that can be said about this one. Amazing effort by the Rangers for not giving up until the final buzzer. I still have no idea how Brad Richards managed to sneak that puck by Holtby but he’s worth every penny. Then, Staal in overtime with the absolute blast that we’ve been waiting for all series. Stunning. Unbelievable. Epic.

If the Rangers had lost, I’d be writing about how their power play was absolutely anemic and the amount of time they hold the puck looking for the perfect perfect shot is about as frustrating as having a girlfriend on her period. But they didn’t, so I won’t. Loved the way they came out to start the game but you have to get more than one goal in the first period. Again, I thought the refs did a horrendous job absolutely missing calls against the Capitals, but what else is new? The Rangers have to keep getting the pucks on net. Holtby is good but he’s prone to juicy rebounds. I can’t imagine a team being able to rally from a crushing defeat like this but Washington won Game 4 after the triple OT game, so I’m not ruling anything out. All I know is that when King Henrik and the Blueshirts play their best, nobody can beat them.

Capitals 3, Rangers 2. Series tied 2-2

Same script as Game 2. It was a pretty solid, evenly matched game. The refs called a questionable penalty at the end and missed a couple on the Caps. The Caps scored on the power play and now we’re going at least six. It was a real blown opportunity because this could have effectively put Washington out of it. King Henrik didn’t play his best game. All three goals were stoppable but I’m sure he was still feeling the effects of triple OT. The kid Kreider blew it on the first goal but he’s a kid and you have to take the good with the bad. The game-winning goal hurt because Callahan had a chance to clear the puck but instead had it poked away. And that’s the game.

The Rangers need to come out guns blazing in Game 5. The first period today was unacceptable and they were lucky to only be down one goal. If they play every game like they did for the first half of the second period, they’ll win the Cup mark my words. This game sucked but it’s not as demoralizing as Game 4 against the Senators. Blowing that two-goal lead really hurt and carried over into Game 5. This time I don’t think it’s going to happen. There’s really no margin for error anymore.

Rangers 2, Capitals 1 (3OT). Rangers lead series 2-1

Wow, I need a cigarette. Amazing game on both sides. Both goalies were phenomenal (and lucky). Both teams showed heart and grit and played hard for every second. It could have gone either way but luckily the good guys won. Gaborik’s been struggling throughout the playoffs and just hasn’t looked like himself. But as the overtimes wore on, he seemed fresh and finally connected. Hopefully, this gets him going for the rest of the series. The Rangers really need his production.

With Stu Bickel in the doghouse, the other defensemen had to come up big and they did. Ryan McDonough playing over 50 minutes of quality hockey is insane. He was on the ice for longer than a regulation basketball game! What a machine. Of course, Girardi and Staal were great as always, and Callahan was always there to put his body on the puck. Lost in all of this is that King Henrik had another stellar performance. Some of those shots in overtime had a lot of traffic and he picked them out of the air like it was nothing. I’ll be honest, though. When Ovechkin’s shot hit the post and the lights and sirens went off, I thought it was over. Some nights the posts are just on your side.

The important thing now is to carry the momentum into Game 4. The Rangers can’t give the Caps any breathing room heading back to the Garden like they did to the Senators, especially after the draining game tonight. It’s just a good things there’s a few days off now.

Capitals 3, Rangers 2. Series tied 1-1

This was a tough one to lose. After Del Zotto and Callahan tied it up, I figured it was ours for the taking. Then, the silly penalties. I see how they got called but if the refs are going to call them on us, they should call them on the Caps as well. Or maybe I’m just seeing things through my Blueshirt-colored glasses. Ovechkin’s game-winner was a rocket. Kudos to him. It was shocking seeing King Henrik misplay that second goal. It was the first goal in the playoffs that was totally his fault but it reminds you that he’s not perfect, especially when he’s handling the puck. It looks like this series is going to open up a bit. The Rangers need to keep playing their game. They hit some posts and that second goal shouldn’t have happened, otherwise they’d have been winners. No need to change anything too much.

Rangers 2, Senators 1. Rangers win series 4-3

Great game. Great series. Great ending. It wasn’t the smoothest the Rangers have played but the last 10 minutes represented everything this team is about. Henrik was superb and had the entire team taking pucks to keep the score where it was. Ottawa had so many chances but by sheer will, the Rangers would not let the series slip away. Staal and Girardi added to their usual masterful defense by scoring the most important goals of the season, Chris Krieder is emerging as a legitimate force, and most importantly, that scumbag Chris Neil is heading home.

The Rangers make me think of a good-looking kid getting laid for the first time. They didn’t really know where everything was going but by the end of the night, they got the job done. Good thing, too, because I hear there’s this hot Russian chick coming to town that’s going to be even harder to handle.

Ascend the Throne

Posted: April 26, 2012 by Keith Stone in hockey, NHL
Tags: , , ,

Every puck the Rangers blocked this year, every bruise, every cut, every punch taken, every hit, every tooth knocked out, it was all for the right to host Game 7 in our building. It may not have been pretty and there’s no way in hell that this is the most skilled team in the league. However, if there’s one thing they’ve proven, it’s that every single player is willing to sacrifice themselves for the team and each other. They will do anything to get the job done.

Opportunities like this don’t come around too often. This is a special squad that values teamwork and grittiness above all else, and has the best goaltender in the world between the pipes to boot. The players are unproven, but they know what it’s like to feel disappointment and they know they don’t want to have that feeling today. I refuse to believe that they will let all the effort and all the gutty play go for naught. It’s time for this team to rise up and take what belongs to them. LET’S GO RANGERS

The last time the Rangers played in a Game 7 at the Garden was the final game of the 1994 season, as they skated away with the Stanley Cup. John Amirante kicked off the proceedings in a way only he can, with an absolutely amazing rendition of the National Anthem that was nearly drowned out by the delirious crowd. If his performance is 10% of that today, we’ll be well on our way to another Game 7 to remember.