It’s funny how the playoffs work. During the regular season, sample sizes grow and long-term narratives take hold. Discussions emerge, debates rage and quantitative analyses are produced. The playoffs are a whole different animal. Most factors surrounding playoff teams are fleeting. Only as relevant as the last game. This makes life exceptionally difficult on hockey writers. Especially when your piece could become completely irrelevant in the next twenty-four hours.
At BSB, we prefer to take the long view and allow our analysis to play out over the appropriate sample. This is difficult this time of year, and the luxury of research and trial and error aren’t guaranteed. It’s this phenomenon that has grown my fondness for these “thoughts” posts. You may think that they are very similar to Chris’ musings posts. You’d be wrong. His are better. But for now, you’re stuck with me. Here are some Ranger related thoughts heading into Friday’s clash in Philly…
- It’s really nice to see Marty St. Louis coming to life in these playoffs. He is so sneaky and elusive that the suspect back line for the Flyers can’t do much about him, especially with Nash on the ice to worry about. Still not a fan of giving up the first round picks when Slats kinda had Yzerman dead to rights in negotiations, but I think St. Louis will be a huge factor in any success the Rangers have this postseason.
- Speaking of Nash, can we stop the insanely shortsighted “he’s not powering his way through all five defenders and scoring at will” crap? The guy has been tremendously effective during this series and just because he isn’t leading the team in goals, doesn’t mean he’s not playing up to his ability. In the playoffs, team defenses tend to focus on the opposition’s best player. Nash is still getting shots, assists and driving puck possession.
- Another Nash bullet point? Oh, yes. Just because he is 6’4”, 215lbs, doesn’t mean he has to play like Milan Lucic. I think the term “power forward” is one of the biggest misnomers in hockey. Nash is a smooth-skating, elusive, puck possession monster. Sure, he is very effective when he drives to the net and boxes out defenders, but he’s not going to swat away defenders like the Hulk. He’s just not. As soon as we all make peace with that, you can appreciate his game for what it is, not what you think it should be.
- Dave mentioned it yesterday, but the Rangers need to treat tonight’s game as a must-win. They need to put the Flyers down as soon as possible. Either trying to keep up with the high-end skill of Pittsburgh’s top lines or dealing with the grind of Columbus’ depth, the squad needs to be as fresh as possible. Letting this thing drag out for 7 games is a recipe for running out of gas like they did in 2012.
- Henrik Lundqvist has been very solid so far. While he hasn’t given up any bad goals per se, I’m looking for him to make a few more of those “not on my watch” kind of saves that can turn a loss or an overtime game into a win.
- I’m disappointed a real goalie will be playing in Game 4 for Philly. (Wow, Steve Mason can be considered a real goalie again?) Watching Emery struggle side to side was quite entertaining, as well as his baby deer-like rebound control.
- McDonagh and Girardi need to continue to play the way they did in Game 3. Their performance in Game 2 (which I had the pleasure of paying to watch) will not get the Blueshirts very far. I am extremely confident that it was an aberration, and if they continue to play the way they did the first tilt in Philly, it could be over pretty quickly.
- Kudos to AV for recognizing the need for a change between Fast and Carcillo. Those types of changes are difficult to make, but Vigneault didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger and it yielded immediate dividends.
- Keep at it Columbus/Pittsburgh. I want whichever one of you advances exhausted and bleeding crawling up the MSG steps.