Monday, March 31, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Mixed Results In Canada


They Better Bring Their Backbones To Vancouver With Them

NEW YORK RANGERS: This Is No Time For Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde.

In a game the Blueshirts could ill afford to lose, they blew it.

The Blueshirts found themselves down 2-0 in the opening period of last Friday's game against the Flames - a team in the Western Conference second division, the 13th seed if you must.  Brian Boyle's 4th line provided the Rangers best scoring chances, but to no avail.  The Rangers went into the 1st intermission behind by a pair.

The diligent work put in by the Rangers 4th line paid off in the 2nd period however, as Brian Boyle got the Rangers on the board early in the 2nd period.  Then in the blink of an eye, the Rangers tied the game 51-seconds later at 2-2, on a Rafael Diaz shot, and a series of well directed deflections.

The Rangers kept momentum on their side, and went on to score their third goal in the span of 3:27, as Brad Richards put the Rangers ahead by a 3-2 score.

But before the second period was through, the Rangers squandered their one goal lead.  Calgary answered back with another pair of goals to reassert control.  And that's all there was.  The Rangers were singed by the burning flames of defeat - their five game winning streak snapped. Two desperately needed points lost to a sub .500 team.

After a week receiving praise and exaltation from the home crowd, Henrik had nothing short of a bad opening game on the road.  He faced 28 shots, allowing four to get by - some rather ponderously.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs to earn their 85th and 86th points of the season, tying the Rangers.

*    *    *    *

Early Sunday afternoon, the Boston Bruins lent the Rangers a helping hand by defeating the Flyers 4-3 in Philadelphia, decided by shootout.  So, heading into the evening, the Rangers desperately needed to capitalize on Philly's misfortune.

A well played game against the Edmonton Oilers would propel the Rangers into the Eastern Conference 5th seed, and give them sole possession of 2nd place over Philly in the Metropolitan Division as well.

With 61 points, the Oilers entered the evening's game dead last in the Western Conference.  Timely scheduling right?  That's what I said of the Calgary Flames, who, with 69 points, are second to last in the Western Conference.

Mats Zuccarello gave the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead late in the first period, and the Rangers steamrolled the Oliers from then on, to the tune of a 5-0 final score.  Cam Talbot was between the pipes, and earned the shutout.

Two more points in the books.


Vancouver Canucks
Way Westward In The Great White North

As of Monday night, the Rangers needed 4-points in order to tie, and supplant the Tampa Bay Lightning as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, and gain a home ice advantage.

Next on the Rangers docket - Coach Vigneault's old stomping grounds, Vancouver, where the Rangers can expect nothing short of a war against their former coach, and a desperate Canucks team attempting to qualify for the playoffs.

The month of March is now done.  The time for growing of the beards has arrived.  The onset of April signals the chase for Lord Stanley's Cup will begin shortly.  Before then, six more games remain in the Rangers regular season.


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