The Rangers gained ground on both Columbus and Philly last night, beating Carolina by a score of 4-1. The Rangers came out a bit soft against the Canes, a bit of a repeat of their last matchup, but collected themselves and scored four straight en route to the victory. With the win, the Rangers have moved closer to clinching a non-wild card spot, as the magic number is now down to two. The magic number to clinch home ice against the Flyers in the first round is down to four.
The big guns for the Rangers showed up last night. Martin St. Louis had three assists, Brad Richards had two goals, and Derek Stepan had a goal and an assist. Even Rick Nash, who was held off the scoreboard, had some good looks, but couldn’t finish. But when the others are scoring, Nash just needs to draw the attention of the defense. He did that, and the Rangers took advantage.
On to the goals:
Canes 1, Rangers 0
When this goal was scored, how many of you said “Oh no, not again”? I’m going to go with most of you. I definitely did.
Anyway, Brett Bellemore made a solid pinch that forced Benoit Pouliot into a turnover at the half boards. Bellemore then went deep and chipped the puck off the side of the net, intended for Jordan Staal. Staal missed it, with Kevin Klein on him, but Patrick Dwyer was there to collect the loose puck and rip it over Hank. Mats Zuccarello was the closest Ranger to Dwyer, but was on the other side of the net instead of on Dwyer.
Rangers 1, Canes 1
Richards won the powerplay face off to MSL, who had his shot blocked by Dwyer. After a scramble in the high slot (with three Canes and two Rangers), MSL got the puck and threw a “blind” pass to Richards. I put blind in quotes because MSL knew he was there, and just needed puck control. Richards had all day, faked a slap shot, waited, and just ripped it over Ward. Richards had all day to shoot there.
Rangers 2, Canes 1
The Nash-Stepan-MSL line did a great job of keeping the zone and keeping the forechecking pressure on. Since it was the second period, the Rangers had the short offensive zone change, which allowed the Rangers to get fresh forwards out while keeping the zone. Eventually, Anton Stralman picked up the puck at the boards and got the puck to Zucc, who faked a shot before seeing Pouliot fresh off the bench –following a change from Nash– and streaking to the net. Alex Semin was right next to him, but never turned his head to see him. Zucc hit Pouliot with a perfect pass who had a wide open net.
Rangers 3, Canes 1
The Rangers had some great one-touch passing on this powerplay once Dwyer lost his stick. Richards hit MSL on the right, back to Richards, to Girardi on the left, back to Richards, on net, goal. It was very pretty.
Rangers 4, Canes 1
The Rangers broke down with a 3-on-2, but Jay Harrison broke up the pass from MSL to Stepan as they gained the zone. MSL was able to pick up the loose puck as Stepan cut to the net. Semin –again– blew his coverage and didn’t realize Stepan was at the back door. Instead, he circled around and allowed for a clear passing lane from MSL to Stepan. This was an easy goal.
The Rangers eventually wound up with a 53% Corsi advantage in this game, but that first period was not pretty. After that, this chart resembles what you expect from the on-ice product.
Win Expectancy Chart:
Again, still based off home ice, score, and time remaining. But it’s still interesting to see how the goals affect the win probability.
The Rangers showed that they can overcome a slow start and still dominate a bad team in Carolina. The problem is that if they open up slow against the Flyers, they will get burned. That said, showing guts and coming back and to dominate the game is a positive sign. These games may be “meaningless” in terms of qualifying for the playoffs, but they set the tone for the first round."Rangers inch closer to home ice with win over Carolina",