Sometimes you win when you’re outplayed, other times you lose when you play your best. We’ve seen it all in this series. The first few minutes of the game the Devils leaped to an early lead on weird defensive breakdowns and weak goaltending from the Rangers. But after Torts’ timeout, the Rangers stormed back and outplayed the Devils for most of the contest. We out hit them, we won a lot more faceoffs, had more takeaways, more scoring chances (14-7 by some counts), etc. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get that last goal.
On to the scoring breakdown…oh and try to keep up, this one is a doozy!
Devils go up 1-0
The sequence starts off with the Devils forecheck in the Rangers endzone. Gionta and Bernier are along the walls battling for the puck. As the puck kicks up to the point, Gionta high sticks Derek Stepan in the face, which takes him out of the play (obviously nothing called).
At this moment Gionta heads for the slot where Bickel has sound positioning between Carter (high slot) and Lundqvist. Once Fayne starts winding up at the point Bickel releases the slot and presses Carter, leaving the crease open for Gionta to skate right in and finish Fayne’s rebound.
Although Bickel takes some blame here, he’s in a tough spot with two Devils in behind our coverage. High stick or no high stick, Gionta is Stepan’s man. I also think Hank took too long to find his own rebound, but I’ll leave that one up to Justin, since he played goal in college and knows a thing or two about the position.
The sequence starts with Dubi, Staal, and Cally trapped in the Devils corner. The third man (Cally) is supposed to be higher in the zone, so he can read and react to the play. However, Cally comes in and joins the puck battle. When the turnover inevitably happens, all three players are trapped. Anisimov and Stralman are left to defend a 3-on-2.
Stralman is able to break up the rush, but Cally and Dubi both over skate the play and end up all the way down in the faceoff circles. They are not covering anyone and should instead be defending the point. An unmarked Adam Henrique collects the puck at our blueline and fires one on net. The puck deflects off of Elias’ skate and in. This was just a bad sequence from head to toe.
What looked like was about to be a dangerous 3-on-2 rush actually ends up being a relatively harmless 1-on-2, since two Devils players stop skating upon entering our zone. Michael Del Zotto forces Travis Zajac wide, which is what he’s supposed to do, and Zajac lets one go from atop the faceoff circle. Hank just flat-out gets beat blocker side. He needs to make that save.
This was probably the easiest goal to breakdown. Bryce Salvador attempts a pass through the neutral zone, but Feds blocks it and softly sends the puck up to open ice. Prust beats the Devils backcheckers to the puck and backhands a shot through a flopping Brodeur. Good effort by Prust, but I think Marty could have picked a more appropriate save for that shot.
It’s times like these where nitpicking shot selection has to get thrown out the window. On the Rangers second goal, Dubi fires a puck off of a Devils player and the puck redirects into the corner. Anisimov collects it and throws one into the crease that deflects off of Callys skate and in. This one is just a “Torts prayer” being answered.
Brodeur was about to play a puck outside of the trapezoid below the goal line, but realizes he’s not allowed to, so he leaves the puck there and retreats to the net. Gabby is able to get to the puck after a collision with Fayne and shoots the puck at a retreating Marty. Marty attempts to cover the puck with his glove, but doesn’t have it covered long enough for the ref to blow the whistle. No one picks up Stepan and he’s able to push Marty over the goal line.
Devils get game winner, 4-3
Simple play. Gionta and Kovy go after MDZ in the corner and are able to come away with possession. Girardi is a step behind when he delivers his hit on Gionta, who feeds Ryan Carter streaking in on the far side. Carter buries one past Lundqvist and that’s the game. Coverage-wise, Hagelin stopped skating and didn’t pick up Carter. You’d also like to see Girardi make the strip on Gionta on that play, but what are you going to do?
No point breaking down Parise’s empty netter.
Despite these few broken and flukey plays, the Rangers battled back and we finally got to see a glimpse of how good they can be when they are on their game. If we could just get everyone going at once, there is no reason why we still can’t take this series.
Chin up Rangers fans, it aint over yet…