This game sure got ugly fast. The Rangers were playing like they just wanted to get out of New Jersey (let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to get out of that state?). Two first period goals by the Devils and the Rangers never recovered. It was a total team letdown, not one person can be blamed for anything, and it is what it is. It’s a best of three now, move on.
Here’s the goal breakdown, and after the jump we talk about the third period melee as well.
1-0 NJD, Salvador with a seeing eye goal
This goal begins when David Clarkson wins a battle along boards to get puck away from Anton Stralman. The loose puck winds on Alexei Ponikarovsky’s stick in the opposite corner, who moved the puck up to Bryce Salvador at the point. Ryan Callahan bit a little too hard on Poni in the corner, leaving Salvador open at the point with room. The shot itself wasn’t a hard shot, but there were seven bodies in front, and the puck was just a seeing eye shot. It happens sometimes.
2-0 NJD, Zajac scores on a 2-on-1
This play begins when Michael Del Zotto attempts to get the puck to Artem Anisimov, but winds up turning the puck over to Zach Parise. Parise brings the puck up and moves around MDZ, who wrongly stepped up at the blue line. This left Parise and Travis Zajac on a 2-on-1 rush with Dan Girardi back. Girardi did his usual lay down on the ice schtick, which almost never works, and Hank can’t get across in time. Nothing Hank can do. That goal is on MDZ.
For more on executing and defending odd man rushes, check out The Suit’s post here.
Update: I wanted to update this a bit, as I feel I was lacking on the Girardi play here. Laying down on defense should be used as a last resort when you’re out of position. Girardi was in good position, as he took away the passing lane. By laying down, he took himself out of position. For someone like Parise, who is a gifted passer, that’s a very easy saucer pass to make. Zajac is no slouch either, he will bury that 99 times out of 100. The goal is on MDZ, but Girardi made the wrong play as well.
3-0 NJD, Parise puts it away on the powerplay
After a Derek Stepan penalty, a clean face off win by Dainius Zubrus to the Ilya Kovalchuk at the point with room. Hank can’t swallow up Kovalchuk’s slapper from the point and Parise gets the rebound for the easy goal. Cally and Girardi failed to cover Parise in the slot. They were just caught watching. Sloppy goal.
3-1 NJD, Rangers get on the board
Del Zotto made a good, smart hockey play by keeping the puck away from Kovalchuk and flipping the puck to Richards with a nice backhand saucer pass. Richards hit Ruslan Fedotenko on the other end of the ice with room after Marek Zidlicky was a step out of position. Feds waits for a screen from a returning Zidlicky and fired it past Brodeur stick side.
4-1 NJD, Parise gets the empty net goal
Empty net goal, nothing to really analyze.
I have to touch on that melee in the third period. First, Mike Rupp appeared to leave his feet on the initial hit on Anton Volchenkov, but then again Parise left his feet on his hit on Del Zotto last game. It is what it is. But the shove of Martin Brodeur, while embellished slightly by Brodeur, was unnecessary and uncalled for. Rupp has been one of the best Ranger forwards this series (that doesn’t say much) and that really brought him down a notch. The Rangers can’t be “that team” that cheap shots the opposition when losing.
Be the bigger team, don’t sink down to their level. The series is tied, it’s a best of three.