Monday, April 20, 2015

N.Y. Rangers: Penguins Crash The Garden Party


Rangers lose home advantage; Series shifts to Pittsburgh

Series tied 1-1
I - NYR 2; PITT 1
II - PITT 4; NYR 3

Pittsburgh Penguins
Steel City Ice Hut

NEW YORK RANGERS: The Power Play showed its uglier Side in Game 2; now just 2/12 in the series.  Meanwhile, the Penguins continue crashing the net with impunity.

At its best, the Rangers power play under Alain Vigneault gets defensive heads spinning and bodies scurrying in different directions in reaction to their movement with and without the puck.  They're most effective with quick crisp and frequent one-touch passing, lack of hesitation on their shot, and when establishing a presence in front of the net for rebounds.

...just like in Game One against the Penguins.

At their worst, they exhibit the old John Tortorella-ish dysfunction characterized by stationary positioning, over-passing and over-possessing, which inspire memories of the Garden crowd screaming, "SHOOoooT!" with every perceived opportunity gone by.

...just like in Game Two against the Penguins.

The Rangers power play is now 2/12 in two post-season games.

*      *      *      *

In Game 1, the Penguins continued what other teams had been doing to the Rangers lately - instigating through physicality.  The Rangers thwarted that plan, however, with a pair of early goals in the 1st period.  Derick Brassard cleaned up a Rick Nash rebound just 0:28 into the game, and Ryan McDonagh scored a PP goal roughly 15 minutes later.

The Pens otherwise played quite evenly with the Rangers for the remainder of the game.

Pittsburgh's physicality was one matter, but their undisciplined play was another.  They put the Rangers on the power play 5 times.  The Rangers were 1/5, but nonetheless cashed in on what turned out to be the game winner.

The Rangers defense effectively shut down Sidney Crosby and Ivegin Malkin en route to a 2-1 final score.  The two Pens forwards combined on just 3 shots on goal.

Blake Comeau pulled the Pens within a goal at the 6:15 mark of the 3rd period.  But, Henrik Lundqvist made 24 saves on the night to seal Game One.

*      *      *      *

In Game 2, it was the Rangers whom looked lethargic.  Led by Sidney Crosby, the Penguins skated circles around the Rangers.  The Pens remained undisciplined however, putting the Rangers on the PP 7 times.  But, the Rangers only managed to score once with the man advantage.

The Rangers were seemingly off to another good start.  Derek Stepan opened the scoring at 17:05 of the 1st period.

Midway through the 2nd period, Brandon Sutter's PP goal tied the game.  Sidney Crosby then took over, scoring twice in the period at even strength.

Derick Brassard brought the Rangers to within 3-2 in the 3rd period, but was negated by Chris Kunitz' goal at the 9:41 mark.  Rick Nash scored an inconsequential with just 0:06 left in regulation.

Henrik Lundqvist only faced 22 shots, but only made 18 saves.

Meanwhile, the Penguins continued crashing the net with impunity.

*      *      *      *

They say it's not a series until the home team loses.  After two games at the Garden, the series is now tied at one.  Next stop, Pittsburgh.

It's Alain Vigneault's turn to make adjustments.


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