OTTAWA LEADS SERIES 3-2
I - NYR 4; OTT 2
II - OTT 3; NYR 2
III - NYR 1; OTT 0
IV - OTT 3; NYR 2
V - OTT 2; NYR 0
*II and IV - overtime*
VI - MONDAY
NEW YORK RANGERS: All Roads Lead Through Ottawa.
The Senators are at the Gates.
The Senators finally got their man. They've been targeting Brian Boyle all series. The Rangers' best player this series, was finally caught up to, and put out of action thanks to Chris Neil's blind-sided thuggery. In my last post, I said point blank:
"I really didn't think Mike Rupp was going to have much of a role in the playoffs. Not against the Senators anyway. But maybe there's something for him to do after all. How about putting a stop to Chris Neil for starters. He needs to be eradicated. How's that for getting to the point? And Rupp just might be the guy to do it. Come up with a better plan, and get back to me on that."
Mike Rupp never did give Chris Neil something to ponder. And as a result, Neil was free to stalk, and lay a high hit to Brian Boyle's head at mid-ice. Boyle played a few more shifts, but was effectively removed from the game with a concussion. But look at Brian Boyle now. He'll potentially be missing because we failed to take proactive measures like Ottawa did in Game Two of this series.
In light of the 25 game suspension Raffi Torres received after delivering a similar type hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa, which caused the Blackhawk to get taken off the ice on a stretcher, it will be terribly interesting to see how Brendan Shanahan handles this case. Chris Neil went un-penalized for his hit on Boyle, as all four on-ice officials failed to observe the major infraction in civility. Instead, they called Ryan Callahan for roughing when he stood up for Marian Gaborik after he received a questionable hit. The whistle on Mike Rupp for charging was also questionable to say the least.
The officiating has been flat-out horrific for both teams during this entire series. At times they suffer complete blindness in both eyes, then overcompensate their ineptness with mindless whistles. In particular to Brian Boyle's case, a linesman stood and passively watched Brian Boyle get beat-on by Matt Carkner in Game Two. Hockey Fans understand stepping in to the fray is the responsibilities of the Orange Stripes. But they lost me when they called Dubinsky for a third-in infraction. Likewise with Chris Neil's hit on Boyle. They missed the greater sin. Just as when Marian Gaborik was the recipient of another questionable hit, the Stripes were quick to whistle Callahan for protecting a team mate when the on-ice officials wouldn't.
Regardless, the Senators continue to legislate play and out-Blueshirt Tex's Rangers at their own game. Ottawa has done the pounding into the boards, authored said open ice hits, and crashed the net on their way to a 3-2 series lead. They have kicked up their game a notch from the regular season like a good veteran team should. The Rangers have not. There has been no extra gear for the Blueshirts. They are running at the same levels they have all season.
The superb goal tending of Craig Anderson is giving me flashbacks of the playoff shutdown effort a young Semyon Varlamov, then of the Washington Capitals, authored against us just a few short seasons ago. In Game Five, Craig Anderson stopped the Rangers cold. The Blueshirts took a series high forty-one shots on goal, with not even one getting by for a score. Anderson shut-out the Rangers 2-0 Saturday night, and is the biggest reason the Rangers are now facing a first round elimination going away.
Ottawa managed twenty-nine shots against Henrik Lundqvist. Unable to see through a screen, Jason Spezza blasted a first period shot passed Henrik from the top of the right circle at the 9:18 mark. And that was all the real scoring this game would feature. From then on, it was greatly a matter of Craig Anderson outlasting Henrik Lundqvist. Which he did in brilliant fashion.
The Rangers never could get that one tying goal against Anderson. With less than a minute left in regulation, Marian Gaborik turned the puck over at the red line. Jason Spezza took hold and capped off Ottawa's night with an empty net goal; his second goal on the game; to close out Game Five by a 2-0 final. The series shifts back to Ottawa where the Rangers must win if they are to bring the series back to 7th Avenue for a deciding Game Seven.
Ryan Callahan tried putting this game into his own hands like a good Captain would. After jumping to Marian Gaborik's cause, Callahan took to crashing the net, but was called for yet another penalty; this time goalie interference. A very short time later in the third period, Callahan was stoned by Craig Anderson on a break-away opportunity.
The power play fared no better. The Rangers were scoreless in four opportunities.
The Rangers will have Carl Hagelin back for Game Six in Ottawa. While his three game suspension has been served, there is still no determination as to whether Daniel Alfredsson will return from the concussion suffered as a result of Hagelin's hit in Game Two.