NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Round Two - Semi Finals
Boston Leads Series 3-1
I - BOS 3; NYR 2*
II - BOS 5; NYR 2
III - BOS 2; NYR 1
IV - NYR 4; BOS 3*
NEW YORK RANGERS
With Rick Nash Relegated To Playing An Assisting Role,
The Rangers Need To Keep On STEPAN On!
With every pun intended, the man sporting a lush, rich beard has so far been relegated to one goal. The scoring threat the Rangers sorely needed last season, and acquired over the off-season, has been relegated to an expensive assists man - a set up man - playing a supporting role to a guy who can barely shave. This is not to say Rick Nash has not played well. He's been good enough, only if you fail to consider so much more was anticipated, and expected from him. Instead, it has been Derek Stepan, a veteran of last year's conference finals, who's played with the smarts, skill, wisdom and instincts of a seasoned star. The play of Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin have gotten the Rangers this far......
NEW YORK RANGERS: Do The Blackened And Bruised Blueshirts Have Anything Left?
One game - a victory in Game Five changes eveything. It's their only link to a possible Game Seven. So, the Rangers at least have that - win in Boston, and everything is possible again. But do they have the horses to get them through? Is there anything left for this afternoon? Coach's limited rotation, double-shifting, and long overall physical minutes put in by the blue liners without Marc Staal, against four fresh Boston lines have clearly taken their toll.
The Rangers are tired. The size they should have brought into this series never made it on the ice, meaning Darroll Powe and Ryane Clowe. No offense to Michael Haley and Kris Newbury, but they weren't the original plan, and now they're being asked to forge a forecheck together. Plus, the Blueshirts just used their get Out Of Jail Free card when Tuukka Rask sat helplessly on his posterior watching a puck snail over the goal line. Boston's goalie has made his share of clutch saves this series. This afternoon however, boils down to creating more scoring chances against him. But since we're back to relying on Brian Boyle again for goals, I hope we have a better plan.
If Game Four taught us anything, part of the plan should be keeping the game away from Chara. That means taking shots in front of Chara, instead of working through him, and attempting to slide passes beyond his long reach. But even before things progress that far, they need to relearn the art of dump and chase. Have you seen the way the Rangers, and MattsZuccs in particular, consistently get stood up at the blue line? Ponderous. You also have to consider if utilizing Chris Kreider is a case of too little, too late. Truly paramount for success this afternoon I think, still boils down to being more decisive on the power play. Forgo the extra pass, shoot, and be there for rebounds, because overall, the Rangers are still not making the Bruins defend. You only do that with motion, taking shots, and getting heads and bodies moving in confused directions.
Defensively, if Henrik Lundqvist feels compelled to play the puck himself again, we are doing something terribly wrong. The Rangers better figure out a way to neutralize the Bruins forecheck pronto, especially on Boston's ice. I understand long passes to the blue line facilitate tempo, but they should consider skating a little closer together, providing each other with more puck and pass support, and ideally get out of the zone on a rush. Easier said than done. But we know Boston's shots from the point and the right circle, while three Bruins crash the net, have created horrible screens for Henrik to contend with, and that's something within the Rangers ability to prevent.
Have you seen the weather outside today? This isn't the ideal time to start a summer vacation. Let's extend the season this afternoon, and bring hockey back to Madison Square Garden.
Let's Go Rangers!