Rangers Beat Themselves, Series Tied 1-1

Stupid puck...you're supposed to hit net, not metal. (Photo: Bridget Samuels/flickr)

Before every playoff game this year I have had the same feeling – nerves.  My body shakes, I can’t eat…the whole works.  Today?  None of that.  Not a single worry as I was able to eat lunch and dinner easily.  Why?  Cause inside, I knew the Rangers were going to lose.  Not sure why or how, but just had this feeling we were headed to Washington tied.  The good news is I expected the Rangers to completely dominate the game and be shutout.  Richards scored a nice little tap in with less than a minute to go in the first to kill that.  Would’ve liked to have been wrong about the outcome too.

So what did I see in this game?  Well since I missed Game One, this was the first time I got to see Rangers-Caps playoffs, round 3.  Watching the Caps play the same style as the Rangers is just weird.  There’s no other word for it.  I’m not used to them blocking shots and defending.  It took a while for me to wrap my head around the fact this was how it was going to go.  Once I did, I realized they were outplaying us at our own game.  Not good Rangers.

That said, it wasn’t like their goals happened because of those plays.  They happened because we decided to make the game interesting.  Knuble’s goal?  Horrible turnover by Bickel who couldn’t get back to cover.  Shockingly he had another shift after that play (although it was only one).  Chimera goal?  Don’t even get me started on that hot mess; we put the puck in our own net.  Winning goal?  Can we win a faceoff just once????  Oh yeah and maybe taking two penalties in a row when you just tied the game isn’t the best game plan Rangers.  In case you guys weren’t sure.  Yep, it was one of those nights where the Rangers biggest issue was that they kept beating themselves.

I really want to compliment the Capitals on their win but I just can’t do it.  I’m sure everyone will say Holtby saved them.  Honestly can’t think of one save that he made that was that great.  Plus we hit two goalposts on shots that beat him so cleanly, he had to be thanking the hockey gods for that metal.  (Yes I know they hit four in Game One.  Guess we got lucky to get them tonight.)

And I won’t dare blame the refs.  If anything there should’ve been more calls but I can’t fault what they called.  (Well I’m not sure on the Boyle penalty in the third – thanks NBC for not showing a replay of that….)  Simply put, the Rangers beat themselves.  I’m sure Annie over at VC-Chillin has a different view but right now I just think her team got lucky.  But I guess that’s what the playoffs come down to, luck.  Lucky bounces, lucky breaks, lucky that it’s best of seven.  That last one is what gives me hope.  I still don’t believe the Caps can beat us four times this year.  I better not be wrong about that Rangers.

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Torts Nominated For Adams

I don't care about no damn award! (Photo: Robert Kowal/flickr)

Wow, this really is a good year for the Rangers. While I think Torts has been doing a great job and expected him to be included in Top Five of coaches this year, I honestly didn’t expect Top Three. But love him or hate him (personally, I love him), this team is nowhere close to where they are right now without him. And while I don’t expect him to win (probably going to Blues Hitchcock although Senators MacLean has a good chance as well), the nomination is absolutely deserved.

On a side note, I would like to point out the last time Torts was nominated for/won the Adams – 2004, the same year his Tampa Bay Lightning won the Cup.  Just saying….

Congrats Torts! Can’t wait to see what you have to say when asked about the nomination ;-)

Another Rangers’ Birthday!

End of April is a busy time for birthdays around the Rangers. Today we celebrate a guy who wasn’t with the team a month ago but has made a huge impact.

Yep, a month ago I was wearing this jersey. (Photo: Bart Hanlon/flickr)

And this isn’t just any birthday, it’s a 21st birthday. Let’s see if he can celebrate it the same way Captain Cally did last month (game winning goal for those who don’t know).

Happy Birthday Kreider!!!!

Happy Birthday Boys!

April 29th is a very important day for the current Rangers squad, as on this day two members of our core entered the world.

In 1984, we said hello to this man:

Oh yeah, it’s my birthday!!! (Photo: Bridget Samuels/flickr)

And in 1986, this man was born:

No Dan, it’s MY birthday…. (Photo: Bridget Samuels/flickr)

Don’t think the Rangers would be where they are today without them.  Happy Birthday Dan Girardi and Brandon Dubinsky!!!!

Rangers Have Quick Turnaround for Round Two

While the Flyers and Blues had at least a week to rest and recuperate before the beginning of round two, the Rangers get all of 41 hours before they need to be back on the ice.  Yes, this is the downfall to going seven games in a series but it’s still a shorter than usual turnaround time.  We can sit here and debate who got the better deal but the fact is, it is what it is so I’m choosing just to accept it.  Today at practice, Torts talked about being able to keep momentum since there was no break.  Works for me.  At least the Caps have a similar short turnaround time.

There was good news and bad news out in Westchester as the Rangers held their one and only practice before starting their series with the Caps.

First here’s the full schedule for the series:

 

Game 1: Saturday, April 28, 2012  3:00 PM ET Washington at New York. NBC, CBC, RDS

Game 2: Monday, April 30, 2012 7:30PM ET Washington at New York. NBCSN, CBC, RDS

Game 3: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 7:30PM ET New York at Washington  NBCSN, CBC, RDS

Game 4: Saturday, May 5, 2012 12:00PM ET New York at Washington  NBC, CBC, RDS

*Game 5: Monday, May 7, 2012 7:30PM ET Washington at New York  NBCSN, CBC, RDS

*Game 6: Wednesday May 9, 2012 TBD New York at Washington  TBD, CBC, RDS

*Game 7: Saturday, May 12, 2012 TBD Washington at New York. TBD, CBC, RDSI

*if necessary

 

And now for the good news – first round hero Brian Boyle was back on the ice.  While it was his first time on the ice since he was knocked out by Chris Neil in Game Five, I can’t help but think this is a fantastic sign for Boyler.  He spoke of what it meant to see his teammates and friends stand up for him.  From the Daily News:

“That means a lot to me. The teammate thing and the whole code and all that, it’s great. And the friendship thing. But our team, how close we are … You want to do well for that guy next to you … Me and Prusty are close. Michael (Del Zotto) had a big hit on him, he responded. That meant a lot to me, and I made sure to tell them. They were texting me, I felt really good and blessed and loved … That was pretty awesome.”

Can this team get anymore adorable????  Anyway, hopefully he continues to improve and we see him in a game real soon.

There was also word that Mats Zuccarello has been skating on his own.  After watching our power play last night, the little Norwegian can’t get back soon enough!!!

But as is always the case with good news, there is also some bad news.  Brandon Dubinsky did not practice after missing the second half of the third period last night.  MSG showed video of him falling awkwardly during the game so most are assuming he twisted his knee or ankle.  Yes Dubi hasn’t had the best season, but losing him for any length of time would be a huge loss.  Plus if anyone loves to play against Ovechkin and the Caps, it’s Brandon Dubinsky.  Let’s just hope today was a maintenance day and he’s on the ice tomorrow afternoon.

As for this series, I expect an extremely close series where goaltending will be key.  If someone told me I would write that sentence about the Caps a year ago, I would’ve laughed but as I’ve said before, this is a different Caps team.  It’s going to be close and it’s going to be a battle.  But that’s playoff hockey and the style of hockey the Rangers thrive in.  If the Caps think we will just sit back and let them win again, they are in for a big surprise.  I can guarantee the Rangers want this series more than just for the fact it will get them to the east finals.  Time for some revenge.  I’m ready….and I expect the Rangers to be as well cause in less than 24 hours, round two begins.  Bring on the Caps!

King Henrik Gets Hart Nominee

No puck, you will not go past me tonight! (Photo: Robert Kowal/flickr)

Woah… a goalie nominated for the Hart trophy?  You won’t get an argument from me but count me as those completely surprised by this.  I absolutely think he deserves it as there is no way we would’ve won the east without him, but goalies don’t usually get Hart nominations.  Plus with three easy choices this year (Malkin, Stamkos and Giroux), I never thought he would get it.  But King Henrik is just showing that maybe this really is the Rangers year.

Congrats Hank!

Defense Is Best Offense – Rangers Headed to Second Round!

Goal scorer coming through.... (Photo: Robert Kowal/flickr)

Just a word of warning….this recap is coming from the grave.  That game literally gave me a heart attack!!!  Then again, the Rangers don’t know any other way to win games, do they?

The biggest knock against the Rangers is that they don’t have enough offense.  Everyone said if we didn’t make it to the second round, it would be because our forwards weren’t doing what they needed to do.  Well tonight, our forwards got a couple of assists but nothing else.  All the scoring came from our defense.  And yet we’re headed to the second round.

So how did it go down?

First period both teams came out flying leading to numerous chances at both ends as the teams played wide open hockey.  Not a game that usually favors the Rangers, but the King was on his game and we got out of the period tied.

Second period started much of the same.  About four and a half minutes in, the Senators attempted to break out of their zone.  Rookie Chris Kreider, who had the best game of his short NHL career, had other plans as he stopped the breakout and pushed the puck up to Derek Stepan who slid a beautiful pass to Marc Staal who buried it past Craig Anderson to bring the Garden to their feet.

Five minutes later, an almost similar cross ice feed, this time Brandon Prust dropped it to Brandon Dubinsky who found a pinching Dan Girardi who buried it top shelf.  After the game, Girardi called it a “goal scorers’ goal”.  Not sure I would go that far but it was a beautiful goal.  (Side note for those who are not familiar Girardi – pretty sure he didn’t believe that either.  He has an extremely sarcastic sense of humor and is always the first person to pat himself on the back.  But he has been our rock all season so if he wants to call it a goal scorers’ goal, then it’s a goal scorers’ goal.)

A minute later, the refs decided to enter the game and call Del Zotto for what I thought was a light cross-checking call.  That said, it was a retaliation hit and that’s always called.  Of course the Rangers couldn’t kill it as Daniel Alfredsson riffled one from the slot to get his first point in a Game Seven game in five tries.

From there on out it was all defense.  The Rangers did get a couple of power play chances but after the second one, I decided no more were needed.  (Honestly just thinking about that second power “kill” makes my blood boil it was so bad.)  We spent most of the third period in our zone but as is always the case, the Rangers blocked shot after shot and managed to get the 2-1 win.

And so the Rangers finally make it to the second round for the first time since 2007.  And who will they be playing?  A team we are quite familiar with in the Caps.  But this isn’t the same Capitals team that knocked the Rangers out the past two out of three seasons (Rangers missed the playoffs in-between the two series).  Yes Holtby has been playing out of his mind, but I believe we can beat him and third time will be the charm.  Watching this game tonight, you can’t help but believe this team is something special and that this is just the first stop in a nice long ride.  Hopefully my heart will be able to make it through.  Not a lot of time to recuperate as Game One is less than 48 hours away (Saturday, 3pm ET).

Finally, I do want to congratulate the Sens on a great series.  They said it takes a playoff series to truly hate a team and I know I will not look at them the same ever again.  They gave us everything we could handle and then some.  One bounce in the opposite direction and they were celebrating rather than the Rangers.  So most of the Senators can hold their heads high….especially Daniel Alfredsson.  I’m glad he was able to come back and try to help his team.  Classy captain all the way and if this it, I’m sorry it had to end that way.  Chris Neil, on the other hand….hope you have a great time on the golf course.