Wednesday, May 02, 2012

N.Y. Rangers ~ War of 2012; The Blueshirts Are Coming


NEW YORK RANGERS:   Series Tied By Our Own Devise...

* Brad Richards Playing Big Time Hockey.
* Blueshirts Miss Brandon Dubinsky.
* Rangers Defensemen Getting Offensive.
* Where's Marian Gaborik?

...That's what I say.  I'll take the effort of either Game One or Two, and take my chances in Game Three again.  The opportunities have been there.  The intensity has largely been there too.  This is just evenly matched hockey.   Otherwise, there was the usual assortment of hit crossbars, missed chances, and questionable whistles.  Ask Brad Richards about that last one.

So let's see if I understand this right.  Coach Boudreau tried converting his team, and preached defense to the Washington Capitals.  Ovechkin pouted and resisted.  Boudreau got fired as a result.  Dale Hunter got named Head Coach of the Capitals.  He came in preaching defense like Boudreau tried.  Only this time, because Dale Hunter was himself a supreme agitator when he played, he has turned out to be the alpha-coach which Ovechkin couldn't ignore like he did with Boudreau.  So Alex Ovechkin had to fall in line and be part of a system now.  Am I right so far?  This is the part I don't understand.  This is news?  Now?  Sorry.  I just can't stand frauds during Hockey playoffs.  I digress.

Of course Dale Hunter has no problems keeping Ovechkin off the ice for defense sake.  We've seen that since Hunter took over.  Like I said, Dale Hunter isn't the kind of guy you want to have a confrontation with - at least not back in the day you didn't.  So Ovechkin buys in now.  The Captitals' tasmanian-devil sat out for huge portions of the first forty-minutes.  Then in the third period, he was finally unleashed and scored the go ahead goal off a power play of what was a 2-2 contest.  His goal was vintage Ovechkin.  But with lead in hand, Coach Hunter took Alex off the ice again.

That's how Game Two ends.  Washington steals one on the road.

There's something to be learned about the third period of Game Two.  Brandon Dubinsky matters folks.  The Rangers game takes a distinctive down-tick whenever he misses games.  Remember back no further than Game Two against Ottawa.  Brandon Dubinsky could have influenced the third period of that game and factored in causing a very different outcome with his defense, face-offs, fore-checking, his willingness to throw his body, and digging in corners.  Brian Boyle might have made it back.  But the Rangers need Dubby back also as winning face-offs become more paramount the deeper this run goes.

So what now?   For starters, we can stop scoring goals on our own net.  After watching Del Zotto do it twice recently this season, it sickens me to see Blueshirts put pucks past Henrik.  This time the King helped author his own folly.  The Rangers gave the Washington Capitals a goal when Henrik turned over a puck and Ryan McDonagh inadvertently kicked it over the goal line.  That came as the Capitals were building a 2-0 first period lead in Game Two.

But the Blueshirts clawed back to tie.  Gaborik and Del Zotto set up Brad Richards on a fine goal to cut Washington's lead in half before time expired on the first period.  Then seven minutes into the third period, the Rangers created a little chaos in front of Washington's Braden Holtby while on a power play.  Ryan Callahan then cashed-in to finally tie the Rangers at two apiece.

Brad Richards got whistled for holding 12:29 into the third period.  Then at the 12:33 mark, Ovechkin happened on Washington's power play.  That's the way the game stayed.  We clanked one off the cross bar in the final minute though.

Moving forward means looking back.  Marian Gaborik hasn't been the same since Carl Hagelin was taken off the first line due to his three game suspension after Game Two of the quarter finals.  Chris Kreider was given that slot and has played not surprising, but exceptionally well.  He scored the Rangers go ahead goal at 7:00 of the third period of Game One's Ranger win - which is to say his was a big goal in a big moment.  It was the kid's second goal of the playoffs.

So now, does Coach Torts put Carl Hagelin's speed and familiarity back on the top line to help out Marian Gaborik?  Or, does Coach leave Chris Kreider where he is to help out..., Chris Kreider?  For now, while Alex Ovechkin remains on a leash, the disappearance of Marian Gaborik kind of coincides.  Yes, Ovechkin scored Monday.  But for the moment, both Gaborik's and Ovechkin's individual situations cancel each other out.  If Gabby can just get uncorked, it sure would make the Rangers' world a lot better place to be.

In the mean time, let the record show, Brad Richards has shown up for the playoffs.  Richards leads the top line, and leads the Rangers with four playoff goals.  He scored in each of the first two games this series.  His late goal sealed the deal in Game One to make it a 3-1 final.

The offensive play of our defensemen should not go under spoken either.  Remember how Staal and Girardi scored goals together in a game.  Without Gaborik scoring, we'll need more of that.  Ryan McDonagh led the Rangers with four shots on goal in Game One.  In Game Two, Michael del Zotto came in second behind Richards with four shots on net.

Over two games, Henrik Lundqvist has faced forty-three shots and has stopped thirty-nine.  The Rangers have taken forty-two shots against Braden Holtby.  The Flyers goalie has made thirty-seven saves.  On the power play, neither team sports an advantage.  Both teams went scoreless in four opportunities in Game One.  In Game Two, they both scored once in three chances.

After splitting the first two games of this series at The Garden, the Rangers better make it their business to win at least one of the next two in Washington.  Lest here they go again.

Let's Go Rangers!



Game Three

Washington Capitals
The Old Cap Center
Where Ever, USA

I  -  NYR 3;  WASH 1
II  -  WASH 3;  NYR 2


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