Sunday, May 19, 2013

N.Y. Rangers: Blueshirts Need To Overcome More Than Just Game One


2012 - 2013
National Hockey League Playoffs
Round Two - Semi Finals
I - BOS 3; NYR 2*
Boston Bruins
Not The Old Garden
Northside of Beantown

NEW YORK RANGERS - Getting Pushed Off The Puck;
The Blueshirts Needs To Grow Some...Physicality By Game Two.

Now what?  You do not practice NOT taking penalties.  You just try not committing them.  Boston scored the tying goal on a power play.  But that third period shot by Torey Krug was not deflected, nor was Henrik screened on the play.  That's right, I'm going there.  Lundqvist had a clean look.  I'll leave it at that.  The simple solution is to remain penalty free like the Rangers did in Game Six versus Washington.  That's not realistic however, so we shouldn't be making that the issue of Game One against the Bruins.  There are currently more pressing issues conspiring against the Rangers.

Game Two is all about making corrections and adjustments.  So, I hope they learned something from Game One.  That would be to shoot the puck.  Boston out-shot the Rangers 32-20 in regulation time.  That's ponderous to me considering how physically compromised Boston's blue line is, minus three starters.  Even more disturbing, the Rangers were outshot by an absurd 16-5 in overtime.  And if you haven't noticed, getting woefully outshot in overtime has become an alarming trend.  The fact Henrik Lundqvist is 0-3 in O.T. this tournament doesn't concern me nearly as much as getting outshot 8-0 in Game Two, by a less severe 8-6 margin in Game Five against the Caps, and then again Thursday night.  That equates to a 32-11 differential.  On that, I have two points - first, this is a Rangers problem as this occured against two different opponents.  That points directly at Coach Torts.  Secondly, and obviously, your chances for losing skyrocket when you allow that many chances.

In all, Henrik Lundqvist faced forty-eight shots, versus thirty-five for the Rangers.  That's wholly unacceptable, and doesn't even take into account the times Boston hit the post.  Credit the SOG differential to an even bigger problem.  With Ryane Clowe and Darroll Powe out with concussions, it will be hard to match-up size wise against Boston.  Game One proved that, as the Rangers were out-hit, and got pushed off the puck.  As a result, the Blueshirts turned the puck over four times as many (17-4) as the Bruins.  The Rangers also lost the face-off battle, something they did very well against Washington.

If that's going to be the case, the Rangers better start optimizing their opportunities.  They need to keep creating chances like Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan did in the third period, as the Rangers continue to generate offense from the dots.  This time the Blueshirts picked off a puck in the neutral zone, and as Hagelin arrived at the right circle, connected with Derek Stepan in the slot for their third period goal.  That's been a very successful formula in the playoffs for them.

Rick Nash truly is the 800-pound gorilla on the ice.  In Game One, he led the Rangers with six shots on goal, and by far has more shots in these playoffs than any Rangers forward.  Yet he remains scoreless.  If you recall, Nash had eight shots against the Caps in Game One, then was effectively shut down.  Defenses will target him, as they should.  The Rangers are now 4-4 in the playoffs.  Considering Derek Stepan now has three goals, Carl Hagelin two, and Brassard has nine points, one has to wonder how a few goals by Nash could have improved Blueshirt fortunes.  But as a coach, when you start trying to force feed your star unwarranted opportunities, there are bound to be ramifications and repurcussions somewhere else on the ice.  In Game One, that came in between Henrik's pads.

There was no reason to be double-shifting Rick Nash during overtime - None!  That's 100% on Coach.  As a result, Boston's game winning goal started back in the Bruins defensive zone with a horrible cross ice pass attempt by Derick Brassard trying to force the puck to Nash.  The pass was picked off by Chara and the play went the other way.  Enter Matts Zuccarello, who had little chance of covering Brad Marchand rumbling down ice.  The fact MattZuccs and Ryan McDonagh were switched out of position is another matter.  While something needs to be done in order to get Rick Nash started - agreed - however, I do not think double shifting Nash in overtime was the way to go. Was he a fresh skater?  Perhaps, as he was only appraoching twenty minutes for the game.  But you let the game come to you.  Sound familiar?  You do not force the game where it doesn't belong.  The only reason Brassard's pass was picked off was because Rick Nash was on the ice, and that was John Tortorella's decision to put him there.  That pass should have gone into the slot to Derek Stepan, like they've been doing sucessfully all playoffs long - like in the third period.  However, the coach's  mandate was on the left wing with his stick on the ice.

On a side note, MattsZuccs looked like he was trying to stay away from getting whistled.  Maybe he should have been more blatant by actually bringing Marchand down for a real penalty.  That's twenty/twenty hindsight.  But it could have been a smart penalty.


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