Monday, May 18, 2015

N.Y. Rangers: Time For A Carl Hagelin Reemergence; Game 2



Eastern Conference Finals

Rangers lead series 1-0
I - NYR 2; TBL 1

Tampa Bay Lightning
33rd Street @ 8th Avenue

NEW YORK RANGERS: Now that they've established a physical advantage, Blueshirts need to keep it up.

Did the Lightning's lack of playoff experience rear its young head in Game One?

For such a high scoring, skate and possession team such as Tampa to spend so little time in their offensive zone, to turn over the puck as much as they did, and to get limited to just 5 shots on goal in the 3rd period, the answer could very well be..., maybe.

The Rangers on the other hand, are very experienced.  After playing what seems like an eternity of gut-wrenching 1-point games, the tested Rangers have an overwhelming calm about them.  Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis won a Cup with Tampa.  Most of these Rangers went to the Stanley Cup finals last season, and several more have now been to the Eastern Conference finals 3 times with the Rangers in the last 4 years.

Did the Rangers also go old school on Tampa?

If you watched Tex's Rangers play a more physical game - initiating hits and throwing their bodies around with purpose, battling along the boards, pushing Bolts off the puck, causing turnovers, and blocking shots - like they used to under Tortorella, then the answer is definitively yes.

The Rangers out-jolted the Bolts by a 30-18 count, and their 10 takeaways somewhat off-set losing the face-off battle by a 30-23 margin.

Do I think the Rangers will maintain their physical edge?  They should!

They better!

The Need For Speed:

Did the Rangers also skate with speed reminiscent of an Alain Vigneault coached team?  You bet.  I guess Rangers fans CAN have it both ways, sometimes.., I guess.., (against the Lightning at least).

Attention Carl Hagelin - the Tampa Bay Lightning seem like a perfect opponent for him to get his game going into a higher gear, considering all the wide open hockey expected of these two teams and all...

In the previous round, Hagelin registered a mere assist in Game One, then got sand thrown in his motor by the very physical Capitals, whom not incidentally had the Rangers scurrying on defense for large portions of the series.

The Penguins on the other hand, are a step down in physicality, and with that being said, Hagelin's game improved as the series against Pittsburgh wore on.  He scored a goal in Game 3, assisted on Kevin Hayes OT winner in Game 4, and of course scored the overtime winning goal in Game 5.

Now with yet another down tick in physicality against the Bolts, I similarly expect an uptick in Carl Hagelin's performance as this series progresses.

Shake and Bake:

I think the Rangers can forget about beating Ben Bishop top shelf, unless they can put one through his chest.  His 6'7" frame covers a lot of net.  And if he can see the puck, he'll challenge shots, and stop them.

When Rick Nash set up Kevin Hayes for a clear shot on goal, Ben Bishop challenged Hayes straight forward, and made an easy glove save.  Later when Derick Brassard and Nash rushed 2 on 1, Brassard kept the puck and shot into the glove of a well positioned, and unflinching Bishop.

  • By the way, the Nash/Hayes/Brassard line did not score a goal, but played a brilliant game together.  In yet another line tweak, Brassard and Hayes assisted on Moore's goal.  The aforementioned line, however, may very well turn into the leading unit this series, as the Kreider/Stepan/Fast line was last series.

In Game One, Bishop was instead the victim of two costly deflections.  More importantly, the Rangers were able to create, maneuver, and effectively operate in traffic.

Derek Stepan's goal came off Chris Kreider's initial shot from the slot, that deflected off a Bolt in front, and presented itself for Stepan to clean up.  Bishop got beat moving to his right.

The second Rangers goal came on Kevin Hayes' bad angle shot/pass from the left corner.  Dominic Moore skated around from behind net to create the disruptive traffic and wound up getting credit for the goal.  On the play, Bishop got beat moving to his left.

If Game One served as any indication, then the way to beat Ben Bishop is by causing disruptive traffic, and by getting him to move laterally.

Gotta shake him, and bake him.

Blueshirts Short Circuit Bolts In Game One
Rangers Need To Keep Lightning From Sparking A Wildfire


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