National Hockey League - 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Round One - Game Two
NEW YORK RANGERS
NEW YORK RANGERS - Killing Us Softly With Their Wrongs.., Killing Us Softly...With Their Wrongs...
Blueshirts Must Do Better To Stay At Even Strength
Win one game on the road, and bring the series back home - that's the standard operating procedure, isn't it? Things have to change prior to Game Two, and certainly before this team enters Madison Square Garden Monday night. Getting called for too many men on the ice just 0:34 after the puck dropped in Game One of the playoffs was inexcusable. That's the same way we started the season, and to regress at this point, is wholly unacceptable. In fact, I can't even believe we are discussing it. I'm sickened by it. Pittsburgh did not score on the ensuing power play. Was it a case of no goal, no harm? Hardly. That's two minutes the Rangers aren't mustering offense. Last year, Rangers Hockey used to be about spending the opening five minutes trying to set a tone for the rest of the game. I do not know when the Rangers effectively did that last. Instead, an early penalty started the Rangers off in a defensive posture.
Then there are your stupid penalties - like Aaron Asham's illegal hit to the head at 6:26 of the second period. This time, Alex Ovechkin made the Rangers pay with a power play goal thirty-three seconds later. The game was only tied 1-1 thanks to Carl Hagelin's tenacity and first period goal. Otherwise, the Rangers allowed Washington five power play opportunities over the first two periods. That's playing with fire. Somehow, the Rangers managed to out-shoot Washington over the first two periods, by a slim 24-23 margin. The Capitals shots on goal however were finding net, while those of the Rangers were not. Washington scored two more even strength goals against Lundqvist, before the second session expired. Meanwhile, goalie Braden Holtby was giving the Rangers flashbacks of last year.
While giving up a cheap (Lundqvist) goal is something we are forced to grow accustomed to, that still doesn't speak to the Rangers one goal for the game. Just 5:31 into the third period, Michael Del Zoto got called for slashing, and the Rangers were forced on the kill yet again. From the first drop of the puck, to the final buzzer in Game One, the Rangers just kept filibustering their own effort in Washington. Any and all momentum just kept getting stuck in place.
The Rangers went scoreless in their four power play opportunities, and punctuated the night when they failed to score cleanly during a five on three opportunity in the second period. For the game, The Rangers out-shot Washington by a 36-30 margin. Take away Rick Nash's eight shots, and Alex Ovechkin's five, and the Rangers still out-shot the Caps 28-25. However, there is a major disconnect here. Brad Richards had one shot on goal all game. He and Rick Nash both led all Rangers forwards with exactly 17:42 even strength minutes each. Unlike Richards, Rick Nash had eight shots on goal to lead the Blueshirts, but no goals against Braden Holtby. Welcome to the rivalry Rick. Who knows how many more shots the Blueshirts could have taken were it not for killing ten minutes in penalties. The same can be said about Washington.
All I know is, look who scored the Rangers goal, and who assisted - Hagelin (1), from Ryan Callahan, and Ryan McDonagh. The other day I said, -
It's hard to tell which Brad Richards will show up, and what contributions some of the newer Rangers will make. I still say it is incumbent upon Ryan Callahan to lead Derek Stepan, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Carl Hagelin, Matts Zuccarello, Stu Bickel, Brian Boyle, and all the other Rangers who've been together, to lead the charge.
This year's new acquisitions are by no means off the hook. They absolutely need to perform if the Rangers are to be successful. But who do you trust?