Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Cup Playoffs’

Rangers 3, Senators 2. Series tied 3-3

Winners come through when their back is up against the wall. Eli Manning did it. Abraham Lincoln did it. Dirk Diggler did it. And now the 2012 Rangers have almost done it. Make no mistake, their win tonight was a big deal. Playing on the road in a very hostile environment against a goaltender that was flaming more than RuPaul is no small task no matter what your seeding is, especially after spotting the home team a one-goal lead. But sometimes it only takes one crack to tear down a brick wall. Derek Stepan finally broke through Craig Anderson and played a marvelous game. That opened up the floodgates, but Brad Richards scoring on the 5-on-3 might have been the moment that saved the season. The kid Chris Kreider played great during important spots in the game and looks to be finally adjusting after looking lost at points. Finally, Carl Hagelin added a speed factor that the Blueshirts were missing during his suspension. Lost in everything is that Henrik once again played an amazing game. After the Rangers took the lead, he made some absolutely ridiculous saves that preserved the win.

The refs were horrible. I’m assuming they weren’t trying to call the game in Ottawa’s favor but it seemed that way. Rupp’s penalty to open the game was such a weak call but afterwards a slew of penalties against the Senators were missed. Everything. Tripping, cross-checking, interference. It felt like Ray Charles was officiating the game. Then, they started calling everything. So inconsistent. Honestly, I didn’t think that last Ottawa goal was a bad call. It was obvious Chris Neil was making a kicking motion but I think he whiffed on it. I’d still be pissed if I were King Henrik. Game 7 better have an A-squad officiating it because neither of these teams deserves to go home because of a bad call.

These Senators are starting to get under my skin. They’re so annoying. After every play, they’re hitting somebody or getting in Henrik’s face. I know that it’s probably the only chance Ottawa has to win but I’d just love it if somebody smacked Chris Neil in the face with their stick (while the refs weren’t looking). With that said, this has quietly been a great series. The games are hard fought, low-scoring affairs and neither team likes each other. It’s playoff hockey at its finest, and it’ll be a shame to say goodbye to the Senators on Thursday.

Senators 2, Rangers 0. Senators lead series 3-2

Hey look, King Henrik won one by standing on his head and this Craig Anderson’s turn. It wasn’t the Rangers’ best effort. I’m sure blowing Game 4 when they had a chance to seemingly put the series away fucked with their heads a little bit. It’s like didn’t somebody tell Ottawa that this was supposed to be a cakewalk? It was a sloppy game for the Blueshirts but the only difference was that Spezza shot. Of course, that’s all that matters. Hopefully, Boyle is OK. Who knows how the NHL rules on the hit. They’ve been so inconsistent. Hagelin coming back for Game 6 is going to be a big boost. If the Rangers can’t win with their backs against the wall in a hostile environment, they don’t deserve to be Champions. The ’94 team did it. We’re about to see the real character of this team.

Senators 3, Rangers 2 (OT). Series tied 2-2

It felt like it was going to be an easy win for the Rangers after that great start, but the fact of the matter is that you can’t just sit back with a lead; you have to continue to be aggressive and keep your opponent on its heels. It’s a shame because this was a great opportunity for the Blueshirts to really just put the Senators out of their misery but now we’re looking at a best-of-3 although the Rangers have managed to win back home ice. No matter how great Henrik is, the Rangers are never going to win if they play as complacently as they did in the second period. He may be a brick wall but there’s only so many shots a wall can take before it gives way.

The Rangers scored their two goals by being assertive in the offensive end. Very rarely is a goal scored on a perfect shot, so they need to stop the passing back and forth on the power play and SHOOT THE PUCK! I remember one time Ryan McDonough intercepted a pass and had such a clear shot that the Ottawa crowd screamed in horror. The only problem is that he then passed the puck to somebody who was defended. There’s nothing more selfless than taking a good shot. Deflections and rebounds are prefect for scoring goals when you’re going up against a hot goalie like Craig Anderson. If you pass around for 45 seconds, that’s one or two less opportunities that the puck is going to be in a vulnerable position near the net. It’s simple math — shoot the puck more, score more goals!!!

And what the fuck is up with the boards? The pucks are shooting off them like they’re injected with flubber. No doubt the only way Ottawa can win is by gaming the system. What’s next? Is Matt Carkner going to carry brass knucks in his sock a la Ric Flair? Maybe Brendan Shanahan should take a look instead of handing out excessive suspensions.

Rangers 1, Senators 0. Rangers lead series 2-1

Classic. Sure, it may have been a little tougher than we wanted it, but Henrik Lundqvist put on an absolute masterful show. 39 saves, including a few in the final minutes that not many people can make and possibly saved the series. It was almost like how Andy Pettitte would pitch after a tough playoff loss and put up a shutout. An inferior goalie would have been bludgeoned but King Henrik stood on his head and allowed the Rangers to tread water until they finally connected. If he let one go in at any time, they might have never recovered because Craig Anderson is legit too and the offense was in one of their “moods.” I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the only 1-0 game in the series.

And how poetic is it that Brian Boyle, who was getting booed every time he touched the puck, scored the only goal? Fuck you, Canada! What are you booing Boyle for? He’s an average forward who got the shit kicked out of him last game when he couldn’t defend himself. Oh yeah, he sucks, eh! Let’s boo him, eh! While I’m making fun of Canada, why is there French in Ottawa? Isn’t it in the English-speaking part of the country? I guess it’s close to Quebec but I’m pretty sure the Quebecois hate the other provinces so much, they wouldn’t be caught dead at a Senators game.

Other than that, the team stuck to its guns and continued to play its brand of hockey, which is an extremely positive sign. It would have been easy to retaliate for Game 2 or get affected by the crowd, but the Rangers kept their heads on their shoulders and their bodies in front of the puck. This was a game that Champions win.

Senators 3, Rangers 2 (OT). Series tied 1-1

This was a shitty game but I’m going to do something novel and focus on the positives instead of the negatives. First, Ottawa can’t score unless the puck takes a weird bounce or King Henrik loses his stick. Let’s see them try to win a series that way. Second, despite the fact that his ejection was absolute horseshit, Brandon Dubinsky stepping in and protecting Brian Boyle was 100% the right thing to do. Whether it’s your teammate or a friend, you don’t let him take a pounding like that scumbag Matt Carkner dished out. Sure, Boyle took a few shots at Erik Karlsson in Game 1 but it was nothing compared to what Carkner did. Challenge Boyle to a fight or give him a hard hit. Jumping on him while he can’t defend himself is a bitch move on the ice and in life in general. I’d rather have a team that loses the way we did than wins but doesn’t stick up for one another. The refs shouldn’t have kicked Dubi out, though. You can’t be the third man in on an altercation but that wasn’t an altercation, it was a beatdown. Third, despite the fact that he scored on his own net earlier in the game, Michael Del Zotto showed resolve by creating the second Ranger goal. They may be a bunch of young guys but none of the Blueshirts are going to stay down in the face of adversity.

So now it’s best-of-five. The rest of this series is going to be a brawl and the crowd in Ottawa is going to be out for blood like Quebec was trying to secede. The key for the Rangers will be to continue playing their game and make sure to finish. With the lead in Game 2, the offense got into a bit of a lull and seemed content to wait things out. We know what happened. The Rangers are better than the Senators but can’t change their approach due to the physical nature of the series. They need to be level-headed yet continue to play hard and tough. Game 3 is going to be a test, but one that a Champion should conquer.

Rangers 4, Senators 2. Rangers lead series 1-0

Superb game by the Rangers. Captain Cally came out and proved what a great leader he is by scoring the opening goal and hitting anyone from the other nation’s capital. King Henrik had another brilliant game and cleaned up whatever few messes there were. When the energy sagged in the second period, Tortorella called a time out at exactly the right time and did what he does to get the team fired up. The game changed after that. Players connected when they had scoring chances but the Rangers could have easily had six goals by the time everything was said and done.

The two late goals by Ottawa don’t worry me at all although I hear everyone talking about how the Sens found their momentum. Bullshit. The first goal was a lucky deflection and the second was with like two minutes left. The Rangers are a mentally tough team and have superior talent to the Senators. No way it carries over. If the Rangers can get three or four goals every game, they should start planning for the Parade right now. This is the Blueshirt blueprint for winning down to a T. The playmakers (Gaborik, Richards, Callahan) came through and everyone contributed with smart, gritty play on the defensive side to keep the high-flying Senators in check. Throw in a little world-class goaltending and the Rangers were damn near unstoppable.

Champagne On Ice

Posted: April 4, 2012 by Keith Stone in hockey, NHL
Tags: , , ,

The Rangers won the Atlantic Division and clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference last night with a 5-3 win over the Flyers (to sweep the season series 6-0!). It’s a major accomplishment for a team that struggled to make the playoffs the last few seasons and hasn’t been considered a legitimate Cup contender for 15 years. The Rangers are young, but make no mistake, they can win it all. The core of the team has grown up together on the ice. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Henrik Lundqvist is the best goaltender in the world right now. I can’t say enough about this team. Yeah, they have their high priced free agents but for the most part, the squad developed organically through the draft. And it’s not like the Rangers ever had the #1 pick. Glen Sather has done a great job taking young players that contribute.

So in the toughest division in the NHL, it’s not the veteran Penguins, Flyers, or Devils that emerged, but the the team that barely made the playoffs last year and was thoroughly dismissed in five games. The biggest take away from it all was that after a small celebration in front of the King’s crease, the players skated back to the locker room. They know there are bigger challenges to overcome and are ready to face them head on.