Friday, April 20, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ Showdown at The Garden; The Rematch


Quarter Finals


Ottawa Senators
33rd Street at 7th Avenue

I  -  NYR 4; OTT 2
II  -  OTT 3; NYR 2*
III  -  NYR 1; OTT 0
IV  -  OTT 3; NYR 2*

Matt Carkner being escorted off the ice in Game Two.

NEW YORK RANGERS:  "Gonna Get a Belly Full of Beer...,  Cause Saturday Night's Alright for Fightin" ...Hockey.

N.Y. Rangers - Life of Brian
N.Y. Rangers - It's a Series Now; Game Three
N.Y. Rangers - Captain Callahan and the Blueshirts Pound Sens
N.Y. Rangers - Game One; Stanley Cup Playoffs

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.

In the playoffs, overtime is such a damn crap-shoot.  And we have been on the more odoriferous side of these outcomes more often than not.  Of all King Henrik's exploits between the pipes, winning overtime games isn't exactly his forte.  For the second time this series, we blew another one in the extra session.  So how do we change that?  Answer - avoid overtime.

The Rangers scored two power play goals within the first six minutes of Game Four, then nothing else.  And yes, they scored twice on the power play.  That wasn't a mistake.  On the night, they were two of seven.  In Game Three, they were scoreless in three chances.  Game Two - one for four.  And in Game One, they were held scoreless in four opportunities with a man advantage.  In there somewhere, was a fruitless five-on-three chance.

For the Blueshirts, that's four goals in eighteen power play opportunities which translates to a rate of twenty-two percent effectiveness.  On the other side, Ottawa has two goals in fifteen chances this series, for an even more anemic eleven percent effectiveness on the power play.

The Rangers have been out-shot 134-114 over the four games so far.  Game Three represented the Blueshirts' lowest output when they managed just twenty-three shots.  Game Three also represented Ottawa's highest shot total for a game with thirty-nine taken against Lundqvist; who stopped them all for a 1-0 shut-out last Saturday at the Garden.  Otherwise, shots-on-goal for both teams has been relatively even during games one, three, and four.

The Rangers have actually outscored Ottawa in this series, nine goals to eight.  But frustratingly, two shots - I repeat - Two Shots! - are all that differentiate these teams.  After Henrik's shut-out in Game Two, the Rangers gave totaled ninety-three shots-on-goal.  Ottawa (minus game three), has generated ninety-five shots-on-goal.  The difference is two shots in favor of the Senators.  Two shots = Two Overtime losses.  It's uncanny.  But it is still a matter of simple arithmetic.

So, what gives?  Lest we forget, Daniel Alfredsson hasn't even been on the ice for the last two and a half games.  Find me a better word - but to be tied in this series, is a little bewildering - Isn't it?  Therefore, the question begs to be asked - Are we getting beat in overtime, or are we getting stonewalled by Ottawa's Craig Anderson during regulation?  Because the fact is, we've only really played 3:59 actual overtime minutes in total.

So how do you rectify that?  You score during regulation time of course.  And how do you help that along?  By shooting the puck..., naturally.  It sounds simplistic, but that's why they say, just put the puck on net - and clean up the garbage.  Just do it.

A PRESENCE IN THE SLOT might help too!  hat's actually a year long complaint.  I admire their collective grit along the boards.  Hard work in the corners and fighting for pucks behind the net is all fine and well.  But c'mon, the only real way to make that pay off with consistent playoff scoring is to get someone streaking down the slot to receive a pass.  I'm just using this as an example, but those were things Sean Avery did so well; both passing from behind the net, and streaking down the slot.

And then on the power play, the real question here is - So what's new?  We can't even successfully enter the offensive zone.  The Rangers do not score goals in bunches.  We all get that.  And the last thing we need is to give up short-handed opportunities.  And that's whyduring the playoffs, the Rangers have largely stayed away from the middle of the ice through the neutral zone, and have hugged the boards in their attempts to enter the zone instead.  But it is so uninspiring to watch them roll out their own welcome mat and skate into self-aided blue line trap every time.  If Coach skates his three forwards strong to one side, where is the first pass going to go?  The shuffleboard technique clearly isn't working.

It is what it is.  The series is tied and this is why we play seven games.  Over the regular season, there's one thing the Rangers made very clear to us.  They don't stay down for long.  They've been a very good bounce back bunch.  With every bump this season and each detour they encountered, the Blueshirts managed to regroup and reverted back to their tried and True Blue methods.

We have to take the body and hit Ottawa as often as we can.  We have to disrupt their skating and cut them off in the neutral zone.  We need to slow the Sens by grinding them down to our level.  They move very well without the puck and lately have been forming crowds and loitering around Henrik.  That must stop Saturday!

Ottawa has out-passed our fore check for now.  Their speed and passing were expected.  But the Rangers probably didn't anticipate this much physicality from Ottawa.  So we need to change that at once.  It's imperative we get a consistent fore check working again.

We are still a very young team that is learning what it takes to close the deal.  In our present situation, the Blueshirts are trying to figure it out versus an experienced Senators team.  Quite literally, a crash course is in order.  So hit em hard and often boys.  But just make sure you hit them.  Because sometimes brute force and ignorance are just as good as skill and experience.  ...Sometimes.

It's a best two out of three series now.


Let's Go Rangers!

* Pictures-BTB


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