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Strong first period propels Rangers to victory

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

It took just 17:49 for the Rangers to jump out to a 3-0 lead last night, a lead they never relinquished en route to a 4-1 win. Turnovers, bad penalties, and shaky goaltending sunk the Caps early, and the Rangers are not a team that will give up a three-goal lead. Henrik Lundqvist was strong, making 24 saves –a lot of them difficult– as he inched closer to Mike Richter’s all-time Rangers win record. He and Rick Nash –who scored twice– need to be the best players on the ice, and they were.

When the game started, I think most of us wanted to see if the Rangers could finally solve Phillipp Grubauer. They did, to the tune of three goals on eight shots. The Caps defense was pretty bad, and again the combination of Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh limited the opposition’s top line to zero even strength goals. When the Rangers are clicking like this, there’s no stopping them.

On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Caps 0

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Dmitry Orlov made a pretty bad pass to Nicklas Backstrom to break out, but Nash picked off the pass for the break-in on Grubauer. Grubauer didn’t stand a chance. It was an awful pass from Orlov. Even if it doesn’t get picked off, Backstrom was going to get destroyed by a hit once he collected the puck.

Rangers 2, Caps 0

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There’s no real defensive breakdown here, not like there are any breakdowns on 5-on-3 goals. Nash just kept looking five-hole on Grubauer and simply hit his target for the goal.

Rangers 3, Caps 0

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While technically not a powerplay goal, the goal came just as the 5-on-4 expired. This time around it was Derek Stepan who threw the puck on net –after a slight change of direction before the shot– with Chris Kreider in front. This is what happens with screens and shots on goal, they sometimes go in. You can make an argument that one of Orlov or Mike Green should have pushed Kreider from the front of the net, but Green had to be cognizant of Dan Girardi low, and Orlov had to keep an eye on Nash in the slot. This goal chased Grubauer.

Caps 1, Rangers 3

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Kreider and Carl Hagelin took two bad penalties, Kreider’s in the offensive zone. That led to a Caps 5-on-3, and you simply can’t give the Caps a two-man advantage. All Alex Ovechkin had to do was hit his spot. He did.

Rangers 4, Caps 1

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Backstrom turned the puck over on the powerplay in the offensive zone with a blind backhand pass. The puck went right to Dom Moore, who broke down the ice with Ryan Callahan. Orlov, who had a rough game, couldn’t get back in time, and Cally out-muscled him to get to the juicy rebound left by Braden Holtby for the shorthanded goal. Moore’s initial shot was low and hard, designed to generate that kind of rebound for Cally to bury.

Fenwick Chart:

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

Courtesy of ExtraSkater

This wasn’t pure domination from the Rangers, despite what the final score says. The chart is skewed a bit because it includes all situations, which gives the Caps a 53% Fenwick advantage. But the numbers at 5v5 close (+/- two goals) were more of an even split. The Rangers flat lined as the game came to a close, but that’s just score effects taking its toll on the shot attempts. That’s when the Caps took over the shot attempt lead. Flat lining like that with a three goal lead is the norm for most teams in the third period. Nothing to be alarmed about.

We’ve said that this team will only go as far as Hank and Nash take them. Both were ice-cold to start the year, and now they have finally become the two best players on the ice on a consistent basis. This isn’t to discount the rest of the team, which is playing great hockey, but those two have finally gotten going. There are five games left in this month –three against the Islanders– and there’s no reason to think this streak can’t continue to the Olympic break.

33 Responses to “Strong first period propels Rangers to victory”

  1. PAL says:

    What a great feeling it is to have, for the first time perhaps since Brian Leech retired, that a NYR  power-play has a good chance to lead to a goal; compare to the last couple of years, when I think we would all dread a PP, as it actually would kill Ranger momentum.
    I had wondered what happened to Mike Sullivan, the architect of the Ranger PP for the last couple of years (like  Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH was the architect of the Hindenburg). I read this morning that he is still with Torts, in Vancouver. And sure enough, the Canuck’s PP sits at 23rd in the league, at 15%. Is Mike blackmailing Torts for his job?

    • Centerman21 says:

      Well if you remember the end of last season Sillivan had the Rangers working on the PP. He had them switching from their usual Umbrella to a 1-3-1 during the PP. That was brilliant IMO. It’s just that Torts & Sullivan don’t work on it much in practice. They value 5 on 5 play more I guess. Last season the Rangers were one of the best even strength teams in the NHL under Torts.

      • Frank Cerbone says:

        Torts believes less PM are called in the playoffs & opposing teams don’t take as many PM in the playoffs.  So Torts prepares his teams BEFORE THE PLAYOFFS FOR THE PLAYOFFS.
        Vigneault loves the power, works on it a lot with Arniel.  However, there are less PM called in the playoffs as referees swallow their whistles.
        Hopefully, in the playoffs the Rangers will be better 5 on 5.  If you live by the power play, you can die by it as will.
         
        Wondering what MDZ’s stats over like the last 10 gms are?  Think MDZ has only been on the ice for maybe one goal over the last 10 gms since MDZ has been put back on the left side.
        Unfortunately, JOHN MOORE WHO IS NOW LEARNING THE RIGHT SIDE IS BEING BYPASSED ON ALMOST EVERY STAT, EVEN THOUGH MDZ HAS PLAYED 9 FEWER GAMES.  Moore is understanding almost everything is different when you switch to the right side, angles, playing the puck, everything.  However, at least Moore is showing he can play the right side in a pinch.  Don’t even think Staal could survive on the right side.  Both Staal & Stralman have struggled all year.   Staal is in decline and should have been moved or should be moved ASAP.  RFA right handed, young defensemen David Savard & Daniel Prout are available in the offseason so John Moore can be moved back to the left side (hoping that moving Staal will allow Rangers to extend Girardi’s contract).
         
         

  2. Walt says:

    Callie’s shortie was the killer in this game!!  Let’s face it, the Caps scored on the 5-3 PP, with plenty of time left to score a second, when D Moore, and Callie pulled off that shortie, and the game was over.  Nice job by the team on this victory!!!!!

    • Centerman21 says:

      You’re right. The 5 on 3 goal by Nash was the official game winner but Callahan’s SHG was the straw that broke Ovie’s back. Lol. The one thing I thought the Rangers could have slid the coverage to Ovie a little more. You know he’s gonna get that shot on a 5 on 3.
      In the playoffs last year Ovechkin hit Hagelin with a few nasty slashes to the legs and crunched him on a hit that slowed him down. That slash he hit him with might have been some emotion on Hagelins part. It was the wrong time but Hags isn’t on the ice with Ovie often so he took a shot at him. I say good for him and good for Callahan for bailing him out.

  3. Centerman21 says:

    The last 2 teams the Rangers played against teams that sunk themselves. Let’s see if they can beat the NYI and win a 4th in a row for the first time. The team looks good and it seems like top players are scoring now. I just hope that the guys that carried us don’t shut down and go cold.

  4. Bloomer says:

    Not exactly stellar goaltender or defence by the Caps. The Rangers are developing a lot of chemistry and I think the run they are having is testament that they have a lot of talent of this team.   I am grateful Sather didn’t panic and pull off some dumb trades while they were struggling (like trading MDZ or Giradi).

  5. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Be unstoppable. Win the nxt 2.
     

  6. Chris F says:

    Hey BSB,

    Any thoughts on the Tortorella meltdown against the Flames?

    The way I see it, no problem icing your 4th line to match the visiting coach’s tone setting 4th line start. Also, no problem with Torts getting ticked and screaming at the Flames bench for starting McGrattan and Westgarth after the way that Dec 29 game went.

    However, you have to question Torts’ sanity in having the whole period to cool off and still thinking it was a good idea to storm down the Calgary hallway and pick a fight outside their locker room.

    You gotta assume he’s in for a harsh disciplinary response.

    • Chris A says:

      I agree with 100% Chris F.  Torts was fine until he decided to go rampaging towards the Flames locker room.
       
      Poor Torts has just become unhinged.  That blow up on Edler in the Rangers’ 5-1 win over the Canucks was pretty embaressing as well.  Edler’s turnover led to a goal but it wasn’t so horrible that he had to dress him down and sit one of his better players for the rest of the period. 

    • Dave says:

      I’m fine with how he handled the on-ice situation. But you can’t go charging into the other team’s locker room.

    • Fotiu is God says:

      Hey Chris:
      If you walk the Torts meltdown back, it was as much a reaction to the Sedins getting whacked pretty viciously last time they faced Calgary, coupled with a general malaise about the club post that 9-1 loss to Anaheim.
      Much as I respected and admired our fiery ex coach, we’re seeing a building confidence, if not comfort-level emerging from the Blueshirts bench out. 
      Though I hated to see Torts/Sully and the team identity they built scapegoated and shown the door, it appears Slats made the correct move.
       

      • Chris A says:

        Scapegoat is a strong word. The rumblings from management were that Torts was turning the Rangers into an unwatchable team. 
         
        Now, think back to last season, did watching Rangers games feel more like work than something you enjoyed?  I know I felt that way.  Each game was a grind, the Rangers just tried to win everything 1-0.  Please, don’t misunderstand what I am trying to say, 1-0 games can be entertaining as Hell, but there needs to be scoring chances involved.  The Rangers last year were just trying to clog up the ice and nothing would happen on either end.
         
        Torts was great for the organization, and his fingerprints are all over this team (so are Tom Renney’s to a lesser extent), but the time had come.  Torts had taken this crew as far as he could.

  7. Jeff P says:

    Not used seeing all these 4-1 victories and jumping out to multi-goal leads…  Very nice for a change.
    McDonagh for Norris?

    • RyanK says:

      Not yet man, but in another season or two, McD will be a perennial Norris candidate.

    • Centerman21 says:

      It’s a good thing Sather locked him up long term last summer because if he doesn’t win the Norris this year. I sure see one in his future. He’s a star defenseman.

    • Chris A says:

      He might get a nomination this year if his points continue trending up.
      – Plays over 23 minutes a night
      – Shuts down the opposition’s top line every game
      – Plays the point on one of the NHL’s top PP units
       
      Sounds like a Norris contender to me.

    • Dave says:

      The Norris is a trophy based solely on point scoring, which is sad really. Letang/Karlsson will get most of the attention.

      In my opinion, McDonagh is one of the best defensemen in the game. He actually plays defense and puts up points. He should be in the conversation.

      • RangerSmurf says:

        At the rate he’s going, Keith’s going to win the Norris in a runaway.  Letang’s been hurt all  year, he’s got no chance.

  8. Leatherneckinlv says:

    The last 15 games the Rangers have had a great run in chemistry. I wonder how many people have noticed that even the 4th line has had this chemistry, especially since Carcillo was put on the line? When Dorsett is healthy where will he play? He needs to earn a spot now. Carcillo has been better with Boyle and Moore than Dorsett. 
     
    MDZ is regaining his composure and oddly it has been John Moore that has settled MDZ down. Beginning of the year it seemed every period MDZ would do a bone headed move or the puck would bounce off of his stick, to me a sign he had a death grip on the stick. He seems much more relaxed now. 
     
    All of this is the reason why the whole team has confidence now and partially that can be attributed to the special teams. 

    • Erixon20 says:

      Carcillo has fit in really well…not sure what they’re going to do when Dorsett, who plays on the PK, returns.        Maybe he is packaged with MDZ?  Also, these Cally rumors are starting to upset me.  I hope he realizes he’s not getting Dustin Brown money here and still wants to stay.  I think NYR should go for Buff or Kane from the Jets…doubt they have enough to get Kane however.  

      • Chris A says:

        I think Dorsett assumes his old role on the 4th line and Carcillo sits in the press box.  If there’s a need for an extra pest maybe D. Moore sits for Carcillo and Boyle shifts to 4th Line C
         
        No need to make a trade when Dorsett comes back.  There’s nothing wrong with depth.  Having a veteran player that the coach is confident in as a healthy scratch every night is a good thing for an organization.  And of course, you know once Dorsett is close to coming back someone else will pick up some sort of injury.

    • Dave says:

      Rule of thumb: Note the source.

      • Chris F says:

        I’m not familiar with this source. Unreliable I take it?

        • Dave says:

          Let’s put it this way, that article has been up for a day, and this is the first any of us are hearing about it, and there’s been zero conversation on Twitter about it. Not even MSM is piggy backing off it.

    • Ray says:

      Actually, the article doesn’t really even say anything.  Since Callahan is ridiculously overpaid now and will want even more, a trade makes some sense, but Sather is not going to make a deal that hurts his playoff chances in 2014.  The only possibility that I can see is a three way deal where the Rangers get rid of Cally to clear cap space in order to get a star.