Monday, April 21, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: Flyers Put A Few Extra Eggs In Henrik's Basket


Series Tied 1-1
I - NYR 4; PHI 1
II - PHI 4; NYR 2

New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers
Broad Street

NEW YORK RANGERS: A Quiet Ninety Mile Drive To Think About What They've Done.

I Tried Protecting The King, But There's No Hiding From The Numbers

On a personal note, I hate Sunday afternoon starts!!!  Absolutely hate 'em!  I digress.

Game Two was nothing short of an opportunity lost (literally), and must be called for what it was. It was Easter, so, yeah, they laid a rotten egg in the Garden.  After spending two days wiping the yolk off their faces, they better get hot on stealing a game in Philadelphia in order to recapture home ice advantage, otherwise, well.......

That won't be easy.

So far, the Flyers were made to play the Rangers style of game, and in Game Two, the Rangers were made to play the Flyers style.

More so in Game One, but, to a certain extent, Coach Vigneault was able to escape the Flyers physicality while on home ice.  As the series shifts to Philly, the Flyers now obviously get final line change rights.  That means the Broadway Blueshirts better prepare for the Broad Street Bullies. Coach Berube can sic exactly who he wants after the Rangers defensemen, particularly in the corners, and decide who gets to instigate, and when.  Advantage Flyers.

That's not good news coming on the heels of Sunday's meltdown.  Most aspects of Tex's Rangers game failed them.  Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi didn't have particularly good days.  Both posted a minus-2 for the game.  But, there's no possible way to take them to task over it.  Not them - not after all they do otherwise.

It's not like Philadelphia refrained from committing penalties.  They banked plenty of goon minutes, again.  In fact, they committed 6 penalties in consecutive games.  While the Rangers rode the strength of two PP goals in 6 chances in Game One, they were only 1 for 6 Sunday.  But, that makes them 25% in two games, which is superior to their 18.2% mark during the regular season. On the other side of the puck, the Rangers have limited the Flyers to just 4 PP opportunities in two games, but to the Blueshirts dismay, Philly has cashed in twice.  Numbers suck, don't they?

Not all things, but you knew at least some things would change heading into Game Two.  Getting limited to 15 overall SOG in Game One was something the Flyers were certainly going to rectify. This time, the Rangers mustered 33 shots on goal to the Flyers 24 shots.  That brings the team totals up to 69 SOG for the Rangers, and just 39 for the Flyers - rather lopsided numbers, aye?

But, the scoring breakdown is unsettling - six goals for the Rangers, and 5 for Philly.  Three of the Rangers 6 goals have come on the power play, while Philly has tallied 3 of their 5 goals at even strength.

Somehow, and certainly not to my surprise, the Flyers continue making numerous mistakes, yet they now hold serve.  Meanwhile, the Rangers have played very disciplined hockey, yet can not afford even the slightest misstep.

Think about it.  Outside of Jakub Voracek's goal Sunday, the Rangers are actually keeping the Flyers first line in relative check.  Claude Giroux still does not have a shot on goal.  Scott Hartnell only has a pair, and none in Game Two.  And Voracek had no SOG in the opener, but got the Flyers going in the second period of Game Two, on one of only two shots he took.  Even the sticks of Vincent Lecavalier, Matt Reed, remain dormant.

But I guess you can't keep your eyes on every one.  Wayne Simmonds is the one Flyer finding daylight.  What Jakub Voracek started for Philly Sunday night, Simmonds ended with a lights-out power play goal at 19:34 of the final period.  Wayne leads the Flyers with 6 total SOG.

You know where this all is headed, don't you?  Henrik Lundqvist is getting outplayed by Philadelphia's backup goalie.  Damn.  I said it.  The numbers speak for themselves:

Philly vs. Lundqvist - 5 goals on 39 shots = 12.8%
Rangers vs. Emery - 6 goals on 69 shots = .08%

It's not like Henrik's skaters are failing him.  The Rangers main forwards are getting their chances against a very porous Philly defense.  In two games, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis have factored in the scoring, just as required.  When you include Rick Nash, the three have combined for 27 SOG.  Rick Nash leads the trio with 13 SOG, but is having an awful time finishing.  Brad Richards has 11 SOG and one goal.  So, the opportunities have been there, but the fact is, Ray Emery, particularly on Sunday, has stopped them cold.  Martin St. Louis has a goal in three shots. He was held without a shot in Game One.

Now what?  The answer might be simple.  Keep doing what you're doing, but with a more watchful eye on defensive detail.  Certainly, a marked increase in intensity over Game Two is warranted as well.  And as they say in the fight business, protect yourself at all times.

On that note, when do you suppose Coach Vigneault will play Dan Carcillo?  I hope the answer is games Three and Four.  A game in Philly seems tailored for him..., no?  Doesn't the former Flyer have anything to offer, be it with his physicality, or on-ice composure in a familiar environment? Put him in coach.  Let him bang some bodies.


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