Thursday, May 01, 2014

N.Y. Rangers: After Quick Garden Party, March On The Penguins Begins


Rangers Win Series Over Flyers 4-3
I - NYR 4: PHI 1
II - PHI 4; NYR 2
III - NYR 4; PHI 1
IV - PHI 2; NYR 1
V - NYR 4; PHI 2
VI - PHI 5; NYR 2
VII - NYR 2; PHI 1


New York Rangers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Steel City

NEW YORK RANGERS: With The Penguins Looming, No Time To Enjoy Dan Carcillo's Demoralizing Goal, Or Benoit Pouliot's Back Breaker In Game Seven.

I'm not trying to detract from the Rangers Game Seven victory, but, boy, did Philly play flat.  I mean, not once, but twice, Rangers passes went through the legs of two Flyers defensemen en route to a pair of Game Seven goals.  That's what happens when there's a lot of standing around and watching, which describes Philadelphia's second period play.

Otherwise Steve Mason was doing cartwheels in net.  I can't really say Henrik Lundqvist won the battle of the goalies, although, all hail the King for Game Seven.  But, the head to head numbers against Ray Emery early in the series were not that great.  Even then, Philadelphia's mistake, or misfortune (due to injury) was inserting Steve Mason too late.

Philadelphia's problems were not between the pipes though.  The Flyers defensemen flat out failed.  In Game Five, they lost track of Brad Richards, and then Dominic Moore went through them like saloon doors in the wild west.  Along with what Dan Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot pulled in Game Seven, all Philly's defensive futility was on full display.  Both Hal Gill and Braydon Coburn had a particularly bad series.

As bad as they were, the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist, still needed a hero last night.  Henrik - because if they had lost, everyone would have come crashing down on him.  So, thank you Dan Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot- not the most likely of names, considering...........

Think about it - the Rangers got assists from Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Klein, Derick Brassard, and Anton Stralman.  Outside of MatsZucs, you know where I'm going with this, and IT will need to change by Friday. I understand Rick Nash played an effective game, but against the Penguins, he, as well as Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards, and Derek Stepan(!) must generate more scoring.

On a more positive note, three cheers for Brian Boyle and the 4th line!

I also like Carl Hagelin's and MatZucs' speed against the Penguins defense.  The Penguins are going to try and out-score their opponents.  No secret there, and with Fleury between the pipes, that's a sound strategy. If the Ranger's bigger stars show up, Hagelin and Zucs can make a big difference, but, only then.  If they are made to carry the team, then.... fuhgeddaboudit.

Not surprisingly, the Rangers generated 2.7 goals per game against Philadelphia.  That will not due against the Penguins.  But, without getting cocky, Marc Andre Fleury might be just what the doctor ordered.  At both even strength, and particularly on the power play, the Rangers need to keep peppering Fleury with shots, and from all angles.  If they can continue generating 30+ shots per game, as they did against the Flyers, I like the chance that a few more pucks find net with Fleury guarding the pipes.

Here are the obligatory numbers:

The Penguins ranked 5th in the NHL in goals, while the Rangers defense ranked 4th.  The Rangers offense was 18th, and the Penguins defense ranked 10th.

The league's 15th rated PP just got worse.  What the hell happened to the Blueshirt PP that started off so well in games One and Two, that they would fail over the next five games spanning 25 scoreless opportunities?  Mind you, the Rangers were 2/6 in Game One, and only 1/6 in Game Two, then short circuited.

Coach Vigneault might want to consider adding Anton Stralman's big shot on the man advantage, because if the PP proves equally futile against Pittsburgh, the Rangers will surely lose.  The Penguins PK ranked 5th in the league.

On the other side of the equation, I fully expect the Penguins to exploit their PP opportunities.  They were #1 in the NHL.  Therefore, the most effective method for the Rangers to kill off penalties, is to not commit mistakes in the first place.  Although their PK ranked 3rd in the regular season, the Rangers were uncharacteristically guilty of far more needless and dumb (Benoit Pouliot) penalties in the first round against the Flyers.  They'll obviously need to employ more discipline this time around.

On that note, I expect the Penguins 5th line to play a major factor in the series.  The NHL can't have anything happen to their crowned princess, so I'm sure the stripes will have their whistles at the ready any time a Blueshirt even nears her majesty.  And why not..., the refs in the last series were horrible, with all their embellishment nonsense, and other such curious calls.  Crosby additionally failed to score a goal in the first round, so I'm sure the networks want him treated with extra care to get him going as well.

I anticipate Ryan McDonagh having a better series, but I'm concerned with Anton Stralman's and Kevin Klein's ability to keep up with Pittsburgh's forwards.  I think the last thing the Rangers want is for Pittsburgh to start skating around and gaining flow - yes, what Coach Vigneault likes to do.  But, Coach might want to also consider grinding on the Penguins, in an effort to slow them down.  That should also involve keeping Dan Carcillo and his physicality on a steady shift.

No time to dwell on much else.  It's time to drop the puck on Round Two.

Let's Go Rangers.


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