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Some problems solved in Game Three, but a big new one emerges

Marc Staal returned last night, will Ryane Clowe follow on Wednesday? (Photo: Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

Marc Staal returned last night, will Ryane Clowe follow on Wednesday? (Photo: Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)

What, you thought this was going to be easy?  The 2011-2012 Rangers came within two points of winning the President’s Trophy and still needed two seven-game series to get to the Eastern Conference Finals, so why would the 2013 version, which had to scratch and claw just to get into the postseason, have an easier time?

So far in this series, all that’s happened is that each team has held its home-ice advantage.  New York must simply continue that pattern tomorrow night to even the series and there were plenty of reasons to believe that’s possible during last night’s thriller.

  • The power play, which had been the greatest source of frustration through two games, directly led to two goals and generated all kinds of pressure.  Conversely, the Rangers finally figured out that they need to stay out of the box against the NHL’s best power play.  It’s no coincidence that the team that had the special teams advantage has won every game of this series.
  • Marc Staal returned and was quietly effective in 17:17; you can only expect him to get more comfortable from here.  Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett also looked much better in their second games back in the lineup.  And it’s very likely that another key reinforcement is on the way, as Ryane Clowe will likely make his return on Wednesday, possibly in Darroll Powe’s place.
  • Most importantly, the Rangers finally put some goals on the board.  There’s nothing worse for a team’s confidence and hopes of coming back than a feeling that it can’t score, just ask any number of Henrik Lundqvist’s opponents over the years.  After goals by Boyle and Arron Asham, Braden Holtby suddenly looks very human.  On top of that secondary offense the Rangers finally got come contributions from their big guns.  Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Derick Brassard all got on the board in a big way and may be ready to settle into the vastly different style of play in the postseason.

Of course, for all the problems that were rectified in Game Three, a disturbing new one arose.  The Rangers, who were among the league’s best teams at even strength this season, were completely dominated five-on-five by Washington at Madison Square Garden.  That wasn’t the case through the first two games of the series, but it’s a trend that certainly can’t continue.

So, what does all that mean?  Not much.  It’s a new series now, and all that matters is outplaying the Capitals for 60 minutes on Wednesday.  If the Rangers do, they’ll have all the momentum heading back to Washington for a pivotal Game Five.  If they don’t, the Capitals are right back in control and the Rangers are one game away from golfing.

24 Responses to “Some problems solved in Game Three, but a big new one emerges”

  1. Spozo says:

    Anyone catch Torts post game last night? Classic. My favorite part was that he didn’t give a crap how they won the game. They started the night off with the goal of getting a win and they accomplished that. Now they have to worry about winning the next one. Not about anything after that. Just focus on the next game.

    • Dave says:

      Torts is right. Sometimes you just need the mental boost a win brings, no matter how you get it.

  2. Bayman says:

    Thrilled with the win, but can’t help but think we were outplayed by the Caps. Without the King, we’d be on the verge of being swept.

  3. Chuck A says:

    I think this team is gaining cohesiveness after the “big trade,” and I think overall they are gaining a sense of what it takes to win in the playoffs. Let’s hope my thesis bears fruit tomorrow night!

  4. bogans says:

    I don’t think it is fair to say they were totally outplayed 5-on-5 by the Capitals. They did something right to draw so many penalties and to score two third period even strength goals. There were definitely times when the ice tilted back into the NYR end and the Caps had them pinned, but the same can be said for the other end as well. I saw it as close to even 5-on-5. Here are a couple of my concerns coming away from that game not mentioned above:

    1) NYR D’s need to move the puck faster. They are waiting for the Caps to pressure and then don’t get it out. The Caps forecheck is pretty killer, they need to move it faster. If that means you don’t take a change and just chip it deep into their end, rather than changing and having the opportunity to rush, so be it.

    2) DZ was horrendous, guy looked scared out there at times, and I counted at least 3 times the Cap player stole the puck when he had the clear advantage. He was the reason that the Caps third line looked like the best line in the game at times.

    3) Rick Nash is getting pawed and manhandled by multiple players. That said, he is good enough to hold the puck through those checks long enough to often get off bad angle or weak shots. Rather than trying to be the hero, he needs to find the open guy. Even if there is no clear open man, put the puck in space and let somebody forecheck onto it. The fighting through these checks is doing nothing for the team. He has to realize that he is not getting the calls when he gets dragged down and stop trying to be the hero. He is not playing badly, and if he starts finding open men, he will get some more ice back eventually to score the goals he so badly wants.

    • bogans says:

      Also, lets give the Caps a bit of credit here, I have never seen this team play this good. They are gonna be a tough out, though I do believe the Rangers are capable, their forecheck is tenacious, and they move the puck so well down low.

      • Dave says:

        I never understood why people were so set on the Rangers sweeping this series. The Caps are very well coached, this series was always going to be a tough one.

        • The Suit says:

          I thought Nash played well given the tight coverage. He was throwing some big hits and using his body on the forecheck last night which was nice to see him play that type of game when the scoring opportunities werent really there.

          • Chris F says:

            Agree about Nash being physical, but am I the only one who is really getting frustrated by his insistence on driving into 2 or 3 defenders and trying to stick handle through them?

            I know it has worked for him in the past, but that’s during the regular season when some player’s battle levels are a bit lower. This Caps team is not gonna let him waltz across the blue line, so he should just stop trying that move. Find open space, take it to the outside then drive to the net or pass of to a trailing forward.

            • TxRanger says:

              he pulled that move in game 2 and would’ve scored, but his shot hit the post. he had holtby beat.

    • Ren says:

      If you ask me, I think this years caps look a lot like the Rangers did a year ago. I just think the Rangers get beat to every puck which results in extended Caps o-zone time. Very plainly, they just have to win foot races and puck battles.

  5. jackelau says:

    once again MDZ looked like a deer in headlights. somebody gets within 10 feet of him when he has the puck and he’ll throw it ANYWHERE…. stopping behind the net for what feels like 10 minutes does nothing for the fowards trying to get something going in the neutral zone…no doubt he can shoot the puck but sooner or later this has to be a major concern..

    • bogans says:

      Obviously, as I noted above, I totally agree with you. Keeps bringing me back to the reward that he could fetch NYR on or close to draft day. I think Moore made him more than expendable on the left side, and he is not really satisfactory on the right side. While his defense on the right doesn’t really take much of a hit (it goes from mediocre to mediocre), his ability to pinch and shoot certainly does.

      I like DZ and I love the problem of too much depth, but I think he could bring NYR a king’s ransom, and it might be too much to pass up.

      • Seahorse says:

        plus stralman is playing well again in the playoffs. he seems to like to play some offense as well hitting that post in game 2. he likes to creep down that right side

        • Chris F says:

          We finally have a full 6 defensive core, Girardi/Mcdonagh, Staal/Del Zotto, Moore/Stralman, and you want to trade DZ?

          I know McIlrath is in the pipeline, but who knows what will happen there. Better to hold fast with some defensive depth for a change. All it takes is one injury, and Eminger is back in the line-up. The Rangers need DZ.

          • bogans says:

            As I said, I like DZ and the problem of too much depth is a nice problem to have. But, he is truly useless on the right side in my opinion. The best parts of his game, his wrist shot and his timing on pinching in the zone, both take a severe knock when he is lined up on the wrong side. His defense is totally acceptable for what you get in the offensive zone when he gets to play on the left. If he plays on the right you end up with a guy who is mediocre at best in the enemies zone and in our own.

            And when I talk about trading him, I am tlaking about, if and only if, you can get the king’s ransom back potentially including a solid bottom pair d-man who belongs on the right.

  6. SteveM says:

    Stralman IMO has been a rock all season. Really impressed with him

    • Barry says:

      I actually remember yelling at Stralman a lot about poor decisions and bad passing. I thought that while he’s generally been good, he was not sharp last night. Staal, partnered with him as we know, looked much better, and I feel there were a number of times that Staal quietly saved a play from getting out of hand. Stralman just seemed to keep either losing the puck, or passing it away.

      Maybe that’s just me submitting to the bias that we only notice defencemen generally when they score or when they mess up, not when they make a good defensive play – then they’re just doing their job.

      • bogans says:

        He has a game every once in a while in the regular season where his compete level is real low and drives me nuts to. But when he is ready to play, which is most of the time, the guy has been a really good defenseman in our zone and the enemy’s.

  7. Chris F says:

    Man, this Isles/Pens series is fun.

  8. Chris F says:

    Fluery sucks! Hahahahahahahah! Go Isles!

  9. Lou says:

    If we are all honest, much as I hate to say it, the Rangers got outplayed and out chanced. But a win is a win.

    What is more frustrating to me is the apparent lack of coaching. Anyone with their eyes open can see that leaving the Caps point men open and clamping down low is not working because we are spending too much time in our zone.

    I know he wont do it, but Torts should let the forwards stay up high and cover the points, and let our D-man cover the lower portion. Just playing the puck around the boards is not working because we are chasing waaaaay too much.

    Need to create an environment where Green is hit every time he touches the puck and, especially when he tries to keep it in the zone. He’s a puss and we need to exploit that – rather than giving him space so he can pass or shoot!

    And finally, although it has gone on all season, I hate it when Cally and Steps are the first line penalty killers. They simply expend too much energy in that area when we need them to be fresh on the offensive side. The only penalty killing these 2 should do (and, yes I realize they are very good at it), is maybe the last 40 seconds of a penalty kill.

    Finally, a bit of applause for Torts (and no I am not a fan). But if you look at the playing time stats for last game, the ice time was more evenly divided than any other game of the year. “Even” Torts realized that Asham, Boyle and Pyatt looked that they had that extra jump.

  10. TheDude90 says:

    As everyone says the Rangers failed to cover the points and they got burned more than once. When the Rangers got called for a penalty with 2 minutes to go I felt my heart sink as it was automatic that they would not cover the points and Green would score again. But something happened – Boyle hustled his butt off and Green couldn’t get a shot. I kept waiting for the shot but it never happened. I think finally Torts got the message. You could see how Riberio wouldn’t shoot and kept trying to set Green up. Ovie was down low and is lanes were blocked, as was Backstrum’s. It was just really obvious how they were trying to feed Green and because we wouldn’t let him shoot they had no backup plan. I’d really like to see a continuation of the same tonight. I’d rather get beat by Karlson or Riberio than Green. No matter what level you play at you can always see the “guy” they want to get the puck to – and first and foremost you should try and stop that and let the other players beat you.