Category Archives: 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Long-time Senators enforcer Chris Neil is playing his first post season game for a reason. He’s there to goad Tanner Glass into a fight and try and get the Canadian Tire Centre crowd into a frenzy. The way the Rangers played in games 3 and 4 was way over the Sens heads. Alas, that Ranger team never made it through customs. The team got off to a good start, taking advantage of the over zealous home team with odd man breaks. Jesper Fast scored on a great one time open net shot off a Brendan Smith feed. Just over a minute later Nick Holden was given a lead pass by Jimmy Vesey and he fired it by Craig Anderson’s left shoulder. But this is not the same team we saw the last two games. Just over a minute later, Mark Stone got a loose puck past Henrik Lundqvist to end the Rangers prosperity. From there, they didn’t do any of the things that made them so successful in games 3 and 4. Frequently out of position, where at MSG, they were always in the right place. Lundqvist literally stood on his head, diving from one side of the net to the other in one sequence, to keep the puck out during an Ottawa PP. The hockey in this period was loose, and full of holes. The play had an eerily similar feel to game 2. Neil tries to get Glass to fight, but smartly, the Rangers aren’t granting that request. It becomes obvious that Neil is dressed for that one reason since his ice time his extremely limited. Ottawa did outshoot the Rangers 15-10, with Lundqvist being the only reason New York has a lead.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) May 6, 2017
This period starts with less emotion. But as it unfolds, the Blueshirts are not inspiring any confidence. They are constantly leaving gaps they weren’t leaving at home. Senators chances are getting better and better, as the mistakes all over the ice reach epidemic proportions. Rick Nash gives the puck away in the offensive zone, which leads to an odd man rush by Ottawa. The backchecking Rangers fail to pick up the wide open Mike Hoffman, who has time to brush his teeth, before firing the puck into a wide open net. And, about 30 seconds later, on the next rush into the Rangers zone, Zack Smith fires from an angle and the puck hits off Tom Pyatt and redirects in, to make it 3-2. Meanwhile the Rangers attempts at offense basically looks like a team trying to pass the puck into the net, with too many Rangers afraid to shoot, unless they see a yawning net. J.T. Miller has been guilty of this for not only the entire postseason (11 games), but for the last 10 games of the regular season as well. Michael Grabner, one of the few Rangers willing to shoot, grabbed a rebound, right before the end of the period and banks it off Ryan McDonagh and in to tie the game.
— NBCSN (@NBCSN) May 6, 2017
Marc Staal, who has had a terrible series, gives the puck away and allows a breakaway to Bobby Ryan. Lundqvist makes a big stop to save Staal’s bacon. Chris Kreider gets a breakaway of his own but is thwarted by Anderson. It seems like whenever Staal is on the ice, fans have their hearts in their throats. His puck handling and skating are a big issue in this one. With just over seven minutes left, Derek Stepan wins an offensive zone draw and gets it to Brady Skjei, who sends the puck on goal. Anderson leaves a rebound to his left, and Jimmy Vesey makes a spectacular dive and backhand shot in one motion, and gets the puck over the goal line, despite Anderson’s heroic glove attempt. It was the type of effort by Vesey, that should have won the game. That it didn’t, is an indictment of the entire team. Pretty much from the ensuing faceoff, the Sens kept the pressure on. Giving up open shots, allowing long possessions in their zone, constant icings, all the absolute wrong things to do when trying to win a playoff game. And of course, after a few icings in a row, the soft Rangers defense allowed the puck to constantly get to the net, when Smith kicked it into his own net.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 6, 2017
You would have to be the most delusional Rangers fan to have a positive feeling entering overtime. They did nothing well after the superhuman effort goal by Vesey. When the puck drops it almost immediately goes into the Rangers zone, and barely ever leaves. The ONE time it did, the puck actually did wind up in the Ottawa net. But, unfortunately, Grabner whacked it in with a high stick. So the only Ranger shot of the overtime was wiped off the board. Ottawa went right back to controlling play as the Rangers hung around and watched. On a play that started behind the Ottawa net, the puck went up the ice and into the New York zone, like a hot knife through butter. Kyle Turris gained the zone, with too much room and speed, and shot it into Dan Girardi. The puck came right back to Turris, who fired again and beat Lundqvist between the legs to end the blueshirts misery. Three playoff games with leads, tied with under 2 minutes left. All three were played with the Rangers in a defensive shell, trying to kill the ticking clock, and making the worst, most panicked type of hockey plays. I believe they will come back and win game 6 in the Garden. But their play in Ottawa gives me no confidence that this team can win a game 7 there, despite being the clearly better team.
It was exciting, it was disappointing, but overall, at the end, it was a loss. Game 5 brought out every emotion – joy, elation, exasperation and finally disappointment. Not just for us fans, but for the team as well. Read more
Rangers silence Senators to tie series; questions loom about Karlsson https://t.co/k9kld0eylJ
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) May 5, 2017
Very quickly it is obvious that the Senators have a better structure. They are trapping and trying to turn the puck over at center ice. But, while they are better tonight, there are still some holes. Kevin Hayes springs Michael Grabner on a breakaway, and gets stopped by goalie Craig Anderson. As the period unfolds, it’s clear that the Ottawa netminder is in better form than the last 2 games. Hayes gets stopped on a 2 on 1, but it is also clear that he is way more involved on the offense in this game. Coach Alain Vigneault prefers the matchup with Hayes playing against former Ranger, Derrick Brassard. As we have seen with Brassard, he is a streaky player. When he isn’t scoring, his defensive game wanes considerably. Kevin Hayes is taking advantage of this every shift. Fourteen minutes in, Hayes and the Rangers break out on a 4 on 2. The Blueshirts center brilliantly feeds Holden with a clear path to the net down left wing. Holden looks like a pure goal score, going backhand to forehand, and flipping it over Anderson’s left pad. Despite a couple of turnovers at center ice, the Rangers are playing with discipline. Their support of the puck and each other is perfect. There is always a blue shirt right where he is supposed to be. The whole team is keeping themselves between the Senators, and their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. New York is also finishing their checks with gusto. These two things see to be frustrating Ottawa, as they go 13 minutes without a shot on goal. The Rangers end the period up 1-0, and up 11-7 on shots on goal.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) May 5, 2017
The Rangers are firing on all cylinders. Their forwards are coming back hard and deep, overwhelming and smothering Ottawa. Mika Zibanajad picked up where he left off on Tuesday, being extremely hard to handle. Tanner Glass, dishing out checks like it was the first of the month, blocks a shot from the point and springs a 2 on 0. Grabner feeds Oscar Lindberg who fires it home. The goal adds to the momentum. It is also a reward for the fantastic team effort being displayed all over the ice. Craig Anderson is called on to make several huge stops on Rick Nash twice, and Derek Stepan. But, that line again, Glass retrieving his own dump in got it to Miller. J.T. fed it to Lindberg who rifled a high shot through Glass’ partial screen, and past a stunned Anderson. At 3-0 you could see the Senators noticeably sag. The blueshirts kept their hit parade going. Erik Karlsson was a frequent target. He and Chris Kreider seemed to get tangled with Karlsson coming away limping in an obvious fashion. Tanner Glass had a terrific period all over the ice.
— B. 📎 (@knicks148) May 5, 2017
The third starts with Mike Condon replacing Anderson in net, and Karlsson in the dressing room. The Rangers get an early power play and score quickly. Ryan McDonagh one-times a Stepan pass on net that Kreider cleans up to make it 4-0. Lundqvist reminds Ottawa that he is still at the top of his game by making a stellar right pad save on Mark Stone to preserve the shutout. With just under 7 minutes to play Kyle Turris fires a rising wrist shot through the legs of Marc Staal and under the crossbar, beating Lundqvist and ending his shutout bid. Off the next draw at center ice the Senators decide they want to prove their manhood by fighting until the final buzzer. First Dion Phaneuf starts an altercation with Brendan Smith. Then a few minutes later off an innocent draw outside a blue line, Bobby Ryan hacks Dan Girardi, and drops his gloves. The linesmen quickly intercede and only Ryan is penalized. Over the next two minutes there are 2 more altercations involving multiple players. 5 players from each side are thrown out, with the Sens obviously initiating all of the rough stuff. For the Rangers, they certainly bruised Ottawa’s collective ego. Basically saying, no matter how well you play, you can’t handle our best. Which is why we had the rough stuff. It would not surprise me at all if they dressed enforcer Chris Neil on home ice on Saturday. In fact, I would be shocked if they didn’t. They are desperate. Yes, each team has held serve on home ice. But, the Sens have given up 13 goals in the last 3 games.They lost the last 2 games 4-1, and they weren’t that close. In my opinion, they will try and rally the crowd with fighting and try and get the Rangers off their game. Game 5 will be an interesting and pivotal contest. Will Erik Karlsson play? My guess is probably, but he isn’t close to 100%. And I think, led by Neil, they will be very protective of their injured captain.
First Period Read more
It seems like the Rangers are not going to learn their lesson. After Ottawa generated a lot of chances on the power play in game one, the Rangers take three minor penalties in the opening 20 minutes. On one hand, the Senators are giving up golden chances on their own power play to the penalty killers. Ottawa really seems to go deep and sell out for the offense on their man advantage. Grabner and Fast burn them on the first one, with a 2 on 1 that Grabner finishes off. Fast has been outstanding in all facets of the game the entire postseason, and Grabner has been very dangerous in his own right. But, like clockwork, JT Miller takes a needless hooking penalty. Again the Rangers PK is on point (they are getting plenty of practice), but shortly after the Miller penalty ends, Chris Kreider is called for elbowing. The Rangers kill it off but have no momentum at 5v5 from killing so all those penalties. Dan Girardi tries to make a ridiculous, no look pass to Ryan McDonagh and is not even close to accurate. JG Pageau gets to the puck at full speed, flies down the right wing and fires a shot over Lundqvist’s shoulder. The shot was certainly stoppable and could be considered the first bad goal on Hank’s record this postseason. Before the period ends, Miller makes another blunder, with a bad giveaway at center ice that leads to an Ottawa chance. Miller, Kreider, Hayes and Stepan, again are awful. Miller and Hayes seem to want to stay on the perimeter and pass only. And there is zero offense being generated by Stepan and Kreider. After three Senators man advantages, it would seem the Rangers may have some of their own coming their way. But, , while the officiating was tight on calls against New York, they resisted making just as obvious calls against Ottawa in the first period.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 29, 2017
As the play starts in the second, coach Alain Vigneault has made some line changes. Miller is now with Lindberg and Fast, and Zuccarello is with Mika Zibanajad and Kreider. Off a faceoff to Craig Anderson’s left, Miller feeds Oscar Lindberg for what looks like a tap-in. Anderson makes a big stop, though Lindberg did him a favor by shooting it back into him. The Rangers get a man advantage almost half way through the period. During the power play, Miller gets a golden opportuni and is robbed by Anderson’s glove hand. Miller is extremely frustrated, but it’s a good sign seeing him getting such chances. Just after the power play ends, Kreider fires a “just put it on net, good things will happen” shot that finds a way past a screened Anderson. Great sign to see Kreider finally get off the shneid. But shortly after the goal, the Rangers take another penalty. Maybe they think it will lead to some instant offense? Well, it does actually. The Senators are extremely loose while on the man advantage. Rick Nash and Derek Stepan take off on a 2v2. One of the defenders jetting back on defense was Derick Brassard, who we know was as soft as marshmallows on the backcheck. Big game Brass whiffs on Derek Stepan, and allows him to fire a high shot past Anderson. The Rangers though are playing with fire on this afternoon. Brady Skjei allows Mike Hoffman to blow by him and Henrik is forced into a big stop, but the rebound was knocked in by Marc Methot. The structure is shot to pieces. You feel like, at any time, any Ottawa player could blow by any Ranger. Brady Skjei did redeem himself by blasting home a PP goal through a Kreider screen. So the Blueshirts went into the third up 4-2.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 29, 2017
The teams start the period 4v4. On a harmless looking faceoff to Lundqvist’s right, the Rangers on the ice do everything wrong. Stepan loses the draw cleanly, the puck goes to the point. The shot misses the net and rebounds right back in front off the lively boards. It goes past one Senator, who is behind Staal and Holden, who are somehow chasing the puck and not fronting the wide open forwards, and goes to a wide open Mark Stone. Stone fires it in to make it a 4-3 contest. The puck had eyes finding only Ottawa players, but every Rangers player did something wrong or failed to do their job. Then on a play that seemed destined to tie the game, Brendan Smith made a bad decision to pinch, and the Sens came in 3v1 on Brady Skjei, who made a sensational play to break up the pass. The puck was picked up and sped the other way by Smith on a 4 on 2. Smith dropped to a wide open Skjei, who toe-dragged and fired through a Grabner screen, and past Anderson. Think the two goal lead is safe? Think again. Mistakes and loose play are rampant. But time is ticking away, as it remains 5-3 with four minutes left. Then the lack of urgency the Rangers have exhibited, reared its’ ugly head when Ottawa made it 5-4. They ran around their zone clueless, losing every battle. The puck finding wide open Senators players until a shot from the point drastically changed direction off Pageau’s stick, and into the net. McDonagh, this time, was guilty of weak coverage on the goal scorer. The Rangers are fragile and very indecisive and resort to icing the puck repeatedly. Their luck runs out when Kevin Hayes breaks his stick, the puck zipped around the zone from one Senator to another. Karlsson gets it to Turris, who one-times it. Pageau, completely unchecked in front, deflects it by a stunned Lundqvist. Blown assignments, bad luck, and a total lack of smarts and urgency; all ingredients to a blown two-goal lead in less than three minutes.
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) April 29, 2017
The Rangers control play for the most part, but do not inspire any confidence with the type of chances they are getting. And the chances they are giving up are downright scary. The Rangers get an early power play, but show zero urgency and basically kill it off themselves. Alain Vigneault is not playing Lindberg, Vesey, and Buchnevich up front, and Brendan Smith and Skjei are barely playing on the back end.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 29, 2017
Well, mercifully this ends quickly after a horrendous choice by Nick Holden to pinch in the offensive zone. That man again, Pageau, is racing down the left wing on a 2 on 1. He has the golden stick in this one and never thinks of passing. He fires a shot over Lundqvist’s glove to end the game. Hank was not as good as he had been over the previous seven playoff games. He seemed to be off-balance and out of sorts all game. The Rangers structure was inept, to say the least. They are making coverage mistakes that are inexcusable at this time of year. Kevin Hayes and JT Miller are barely noticeable and are being outplayed by inferior players. Buchnevich seems overmatched. A lot has to turn around for the Rangers to get back into the series.