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St. Louis Post-Game Speech

For those of you who missed it, the NHL YouTube channel posted a locker room video of Martin St. Louis giving a nice speech to his teammates following the Rangers win last night against Pittsburgh. It’s definitely worth a watch.

As an avid Hard Knocks, 24/7, it was pretty cool the NHL was able to capture this. Hopefully they post more behind-the-scenes footage like this through out the playoffs.

Scope it out.

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Our top players need to be better

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s always difficult to evaluate a player’s postseason performance. Stakes are high. Blood pressures are through the roof. Sample sizes are small. Right now opinions of our top forwards range from “hey their puck possession numbers are terrific, they’re just not scoring,” to “they **** suck, trade them!” As always, somewhere between apathy and empathy is where reality lies.

For me, I don’t think any of these guys deserve the vitriol they’re receiving, but that’s not to say they don’t need to play better. They need to step it up and if they do not, they shouldn’t be immune from criticism, so long as it’s constructive.

Right now, Rick Nash, Brad Richards, and to some extent Derek Stepan aren’t playing to their capabilities. And make no mistake, unless these guys go full throttle from here on out, we can kiss our Cup dreams goodbye.

The problem is I don’t see one consistent issue with all of these players. Everyone’s troubles seem a little different and that puts AV in a tough spot. And that’s not to suggest AV should get a pass. He’s wallpaper at this point, but that’s an article for another day.

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Monday Mailbag: Putting Philly away in 6, Diaz, & more

Do doubt the kid

Hey Suit – You’re Welcome

Before I get started with today’s topic, I first want to take moment to thank Danny Carcillo for making me look good. Last week I called for AV to scratch Fast for Carcillo for Game 3. Most slayed the idea. Then Game 4 happened.

Back to this week’s topics!

Today we’re reaching into our mailbag, aka our Twitter mentions to answer questions from our faithful readers.

Q. What do the Rangers have to do to put the Flyers away in Game 6? – @Rangrs2000

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Calling for Carcillo or JT Miller

Courtesy of NHL.com

Courtesy of NHL.com

The party is over. The Rangers had a chance to jump to a 2-0 lead and instead will go into Philly with the series evened up. It will be critical for the Rangers to come back to NY with at least one win, but it won’t be easy. The Rangers are 57-64-14-3 for road playoff games. They’re also 10-17 in the postseason at Philadelphia.

What will make these next two games especially tough goes beyond the atmosphere and fan hostilities. The real difficulty will be for Alain Vigneault to get the right matchups on the ice, as the home team gets the last change.

If I’m Craig Berube, I’d be looking forward to returning home where he’ll get a better chance at trying to separate the Giroux and Hartnell line from McDonagh and Girardi. I’d also be looking to amp up the physicality. The Flyers seemed to play better yesterday when they adjusted their forecheck to be a bit harder.

For these reasons, it might be time for AV to sit Fast for Carcillo or Miller so the Rangers can match the Flyers energy.

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First Round Playoff Preview: Rangers vs. Flyers

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

War is upon us. On the eve of War. The Rangers set to battle Philly. Pretty much every title for this post I could think of had the word ‘battle’ or ‘war’ in it. Nothing against Ottawa, DC, or other markets we have squared off with in recent first rounds, but Philadelphia brings a different connotation.

The history of this rivalry is too long and colorful to recap in one post and certainly no one needs a history lesson here. However, for the first time since 1997, these two teams will have a chance to send each other home packing. And unlike other potential playoff matchups, this one could get theatrical.

No matter who has the GM title, who’s behind the bench, or what players suit up in orange, black and white, the identity of the Flyers remains the same.  However, unlike I-95 wars of seasons past, the Rangers have to stay within their team concept and not stoop down to their level. They have to stick to their game plan.

Offense:

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Game 77: Alain returns to Vancouver

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

It’s almost fitting this game takes place on April Fools’ Day. What is sure to be a media circus today with a lot of foolish questions and baiting for jabs, hopefully the Rangers can see past the narrative and just go about their business to get the two points.

Under Tortorella, the Canucks play an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck and aim to keep the opposition pinned below the dots, similar to how the Rangers used to play. Although it hasn’t translated into a playoff spot, the Canucks have improved their Fenwick%, which is 9th in the league (up from 12th last year). So this team shouldn’t be taken lightly.

In the defensive zone, the Canucks play a zone defense and try to defend you in layers depending on puck location. On special teams, Gully has them playing a 1-3-1 power play. Sully is in charge of the PK and has them rotating between a box and a diamond formation depending on puck location.

This will be another good test for the Blueshirts as several potential playoff matchups employ a similar style of play (e.g., Penguins, Bruins, etc.).

Rangers Lineup:

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Carcillo deserves an extension

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

It almost sounds strange to say, but Daniel Carcillo has been a welcomed addition to the New York Rangers hockey club. Once public enemy #1 after smacking the bejesus out of Marian Gaborik, Carcillo has brought some sandpaper to an otherwise vanilla team.

Back in December, before Sather traded for Carcillo, I wrote the Rangers needed to acquire a player with some grit to their game. Since his acquisition, the Rangers seem to have a different dynamic. Given, a lot has clicked since those dog days of winter, but Carcillo’s game shouldn’t be undersold.

He’s been good on the forecheck, he’s drawn more penalties than he’s taken, and he’s 4th on the team in hits per game. Most importantly, Carcillo has avoided the box. He has only 8 minors this season. Continuing this narrative will be important come playoff time when bottom six players always seem to grab the spotlight.

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Getting the most out of Martin St. Louis

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Courtesy of Getty Images

It has started already hasn’t it? Like Nash vs. Dubi & Arty, or Torts vs. AV, or Prust vs. [insert annual banger's last name here], Rangers fans are watching Martin St. Louis’ every move and comparing them to the box scores coming out of Tampa.

To date, many have already declared a winner and loser of this trade. Our former captain has potted 6 points in 9 games, including a game winner. Moreover, his fit with the Tampa Bay Lightning was recently described as ‘seamless’ by head coach John Cooper.

For the Rangers? Marty’s integration with the Blueshirts has been about as fitting as a suit from Men’s Warehouse. Far from bespoke.

With that said, now isn’t the time to analyze the trade or compare box scores on a game by game basis. That won’t do anyone any good. Right now, we have to figure out how to make this work, because this whole zero goals in eleven games thing can’t continue much longer.

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Start a fire – NYR win battle in Columbus

I win.

I win.

Getting the two points last night almost seemed liked the cherry on top. For me the sundae was finally seeing Rick Nash play like the power forward he was billed as when we first acquired  him.

Nasher played with a lot of emotion. He was physical, driving to the net, and just making ‘stuff’ happen below the dots. As for the fight, typically you don’t want one of your best goal scorers dropping the gloves, but hey sometimes you have to stick up for yourself. All said, if last night was the spark to ignite the fire in Nash’s belly, then hopefully it burns awhile.

As for the rest of this game, it was great to see such emotion from everyone up and down the bench. This was the first game since the Cally trade where the boys finally looked liked they had some wind in their sails. Hopefully this continues as games aren’t going to get any easier here on out. Still no sign of MSL though.

On to the goals:

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Rangers still struggling to find consistency

The memory remains

The memory remains

Just thirteen games remain in the regular season and the Rangers are still struggling to find consistency. Back in January, things seemed to have finally clicked and the Rangers looked like they were headed in the right direction.

However, in the 10 games since the Olympic break, they have won four times and are averaging just 2.2 goals per game. What’s worse the power play, the team’s lone offensive strength, is clicking at just 14%.

Right now, it appears things could go either way for the Blueshirts. And despite having played 69 games, you wonder if this is all we’re going to get out of them this season, or if there’s still a late LA Kings-like surge hiding up their sleeves.

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