Saturday, May 30, 2015

N.Y. Rangers: Tampa Bay Lightning Reduce MSG Ice to a Puddle


It's Over Johnny!

Eastern Conference Finals

Lightning Win Series 4-3
I - NYR 2; TBL 1
II - TBL 6; NYR 2
III - TBL 6; NYR 5
IV - NYR 5; TBL 1
V - TBL 2; NYR 0
VI - NYR 7; TBL 3
VII - TBL 2; NYR 0

NEW YORK RANGERS: That makes one small Stanley Cup in the last 21-years, and one giant Stanley Cup Championship in the last 75-years.


Mike couldn't make it today.  He's kinda tied up at the moment (with duct tape and rope in the closet).

He looks kinda stupid bound in his blue Ron Greschner #4 jersey if I may say so myself.

Doesn't he remember the Rangers lost the Cup as a child in '79 to the Canadiens?

Doesn't he realize the Rangers sold their souls to the devil in return for a double-overtime victory over New Jersey in Game Seven of the '94 Eastern Conference Finals, and then for the opportunity to hoist the Cup in Game Seven fashion at MSG a round later?

You thought he got rid of me, didn't you?



I shouted out who killed the Kennedy's, when after all it was you and me.

Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name....!


> > > > > > > > > > > > >  ?  > > > > >  ?  > > > > STOP.
DETOUR!  No royal road for you!  

Not that they wanted to go there anyway...

Killjoy here, and if you've ever experienced one of my occasional Trolley hijackings, then you know Alain Vigneault has no friend in me.

For my opening face-off, I offer you this: his former team, the Vancouver Canucks were soft like Charmin.

At first glance, the Rangers are going home because they failed to score in Game Seven at home.   But, drill just an inch deep into the fragile ice of Madison Square Garden for a core sample that reveals the New York Rangers season ended last night because they couldn't find it within themselves to push around a smaller team.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were faster, more consistent, more explosive, and defensively better than Alain Vigneault's team.  In essence, the Bolts beat the (new and improved) Rangers at their own game.  The one advantage I was sure they held was in being bigger, stronger, and tougher, like the Rangers used to be, because, they still seemed capable of resorting to that style when necessary.

...or so I thought, or, just not last year versus the Kings, or last night in Game Seven.

The Rangers seemingly exhausted their allotted physical time in three previous victories this series, as they were unable to dip into the well one last time.

DETOUR: Head West Young Man!

Once upon a time, Tex's Rangers would have ground Tampa down to a fine powder.  However, that type of play has largely been phased out along Broadway and headed west (see Anaheim and Chicago).  Nowadays, the Rangers can only muster a supreme physical effort ever so infrequently.

The Rangers season is over because the smaller sized Tampa Bay Lightning laid the bigger hits and more meaningful hits (just ask Chris Kreider and Ryan McDonagh), and because Tampa was flat out tougher in the neutral zone, and more stout in front of Ben Bishop.

Both head coaches had their adaptability challenged, and were required to dramatically change styles in order to even make Game Seven possible.  But, where Coach Cooper resorted to what worked for Tampa, particularly in Game Five at MSG, Alain Vigneault ponderously strayed from what worked in games One, Four, and Six - just as he had in games Two and Five.

In other words, take your 3rd career President's Trophy, and get out of the way so the NHL can present the Prince of Wales Trophy to the Tampa Bay Lightning - Eastern Conference Champions.

Misguided as it may be, for the rest of Summer and even through the start of next season, unfortunately, the talk will inevitably focus on King Henrik's failure to stop Tampa.

Why don't we just blame Henrik for making 23 saves, but for not heading up ice with the puck and scoring goals too?

Note to Rangers forwards: You can't win if you do not score goals.  I think that's an official NHL rule.

The final score was not -  Lightning 2; Lundqvist 0.

No my friends - this was not an isolated incident either.  Game 7 made it two shutouts, three losses, and just 6 overall Rangers goals scored in 4 games played at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts and Bolts remained scoreless through the initial 40:00 minutes of Game Seven.  Then at 1:54 of the 3rd, Tampa's Alex Killorn finally broke the ice.  Did Henrik give up a cheap goal - a backhand shot that slithered through his pads and barely slid across the goal line, or, did Dominic Moore get badly beaten by Killorn in the slot?

That's debatable.

At 12:04 of the 3rd, Henrik made an absolutely ridiculous save to keep it a 1-0 game.  Then, for the next 2:00 minutes Ben Bishop performed some brilliant net-minding of his own, but wasn't terribly disrupted by any converging traffic.

At the 8:43 mark, Palat put the nail into Tex's Rangers coffin.  The winning play was arguably born of a bad pinch, although most will pin that one on Lundqvist for failing to stop a straight forward shot to his glove side.

Do it then.

Truth of the matter is the Rangers failed to score.  The bulls failed to rummage through Tampa's china shop...., again.  Ben Bishop pitched his second shutout of the series, this time in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, because the Rangers could not muster the energy, desire, and/or fortitude to overcome Tampa's net presence.

That's easier to digest when it's five-on-five hockey, but the reality is Alain Vigneault was brought here to improve the power play and we're still waiting.

Still flawed after all these years - The Rangers ranked 21st on the man-advantage during the regular season.  Overall against Tampa, the Rangers went 7 for 24, but only 1 for 9 in the final 3 games of the series, and were scoreless in two PP opportunities in Game Seven.

It doesn't stop there.  After pulling Henrik Lundqvist down 2-0 with 3:34 still left in regulation, six Rangers skaters remained ineffective and down right pathetic against Tampa's five.

Look, Alain Vigneault is a good guy, and a good coach.  But he had trouble getting Montreal and Vancouver over the top, and is experiencing the same kind of trouble here on 8th Avenue.  To that I say, once is an isolated event, twice is a coincidence, but three times is a trend.

However, AV was merely Glen Sather's on-ice agent in application.  The wholesale change in style and philosophy was born of Glen Sather, whom is a finalist for Executive of the Year.

Some will argue Henrik Lundqvist's hefty contract in the salary cap era prevents Glen Sather from upgrading the offense.   But then, who signed him to that money?

For my next trick, I'll undress several forwards for their underwhelming performances.....


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