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Category: Musings

Thoughts heading into Game 5

Bruce Bennet/AP Photo

Bruce Bennet/AP Photo

Good morning, BSB’ers. You’ll have to forgive something of a sleepy “Thoughts” post. I haven’t even had a full cup of Earl Grey yet. The Rangers are back in Los Angeles tonight trying to hold off the fates and send the series back to New York, if only to give the Blueshirt faithful further coronary/anxiety/substance abuse issues. Here are some scattered thoughts on a rainy morning…

  • With all the debate and enthusiasm leading up to this series, it’s kind of a strange limbo we find ourselves in. Obviously, it was nice not to be swept, but I think most realistic fans are disappointed in what seems to be an inevitable result. Yet here we are, still fighting.
  • I feel like this series has just thrown all of our #fancystats and analysis out the window. The first two games, Rangers executed their game plan the best we could have hoped against a strong LA side, yet blew two goals leads and surrendered the games in OT. Yet in Game 4, they mustered a measly 19 shots on goal, got some help from everyone’s go-to guy, Mr. Crease Snow, and managed to win. Go figure.

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Post loss musings

The face of an OT winner

The face of an OT winner

Let’s face it, last night’s loss felt like a kick to the stomach. I don’t think any of us were able to wake up without feeling sad, disgruntled, nauseous, confused, personally victimized, etc… I personally can’t formulate a logical post, so instead, some post-game thoughts.

–          The Rangers dominated last night. This is infuriating right now, but I’ll take great play and a tough loss over getting run over for two games.

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Rangers fans walk the long road

Celeb_Team_0613_1994

And the waiting is over…until it began again

Well, I certainly never thought I’d be writing this post. The Rangers return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994 when Richter, Leetch, Messier, Graves and company became legends for slaying dragons, making guarantees, but most importantly — getting the job done. It still amazes me to think that it has been 20 years.

I first started following the Rangers in 1988, the same season Brian Leetch was a rookie. My old man worked for a construction company, which had seats by the old Bud Light sign near the away team tunnel. I still have tickets to my first game that season. It was against the Devils and they were $67.

After watching games on TV with my dad, I remember walking down the stairs to our seats and being blown away at how vivid all the Rangers jerseys were and how gold the Garden ceiling was. Standard TV in those days just did not do the hockey experience justice.

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Here we are again. 20 years later…

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Scott Levy/Getty Images

Of course that game ended 1-0. Why wouldn’t it? For better or worse, this organization never makes things easy. Of course, the score should have been more like 4-0, if not for the heroics of young Dustin Tokarski. He kept a tired and outpaced Canadiens team in it until the end.

Now, you’ll forgive me for being a little disjointed in the aftermath of this victory, so if you wouldn’t mind I’m just going to meander a little bit through the jumbled mess that is my brain following the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup Finals berth in 20 years…

I became a Rangers fan back in 1992-1993. I started playing street hockey with some neighborhood kids and was hooked immediately. It was the very end of the regular season and the Blueshirts had failed to qualify for the playoffs. But hey, I was a huge Yankees fan, so why wouldn’t I support the Rangers?

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Thoughts heading into a clincher

Photo: Gerry Images

Photo: Gerry Images

The Rangers are in Montreal tonight with the chance to win the series and play for the Stanley Cup. There are a lot of thoughts running around the brain of mine, and I like bulleted lists.

  • There is a big need to close this series out as fast as possible. The Rangers are banged up, and could use as much rest as possible. Derek Stepan needs time to adjust to a full cage and playing with a broken jaw as well.
  • While there is a big need to win immediately, I won’t panic if they lose Game Five. Yea, it’s not the ideal scenario, but the panic won’t start then. Now, if they lose Games Five and Six, then there will be serious concern.
  • I will say this, if they lose tonight, they must win on Thursday. If they lose both, there is no way they win Game Seven. I know that Hank is unreal in Game Sevens, but they need to win before it gets to that point.

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Thoughts following Game 3

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Rangers dropped a disappointing OT game to the Montreal Canadiens last night, by a score of 3-2. The Rangers dominated possession and shots on goal, but came up just a little short. Dustin Tokarski played fantastic and the Habs got just enough lucky bounces to the cut the series deficit in half. In the aftermath, I thought I’d share some…well, thoughts.

  • As I mentioned (and Dave’s Fenwick chart shows), the Rangers dominated possession from start to finish. This is usually a recipe for winning a game, but Dustin Tokarski threw a wrench into that.
  • It’s Tokarski’s upside that was the basis for Michel Therrien to give him the nod over Budaj when Price went down. Tokarski flat out stole that game and is the only reason we aren’t breaking out the brooms on Sunday.

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The Musings: Just how good is the Rangers defense?

Dom Moore: Hugely deserving of a new deal this summer (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)

Dom Moore: Hugely deserving of a new deal this summer (Photo: Dave Sandford/NHLI)

The Rangers are within two wins of the fan base going crazy with excitement. With the danger of looking too far ahead, let’s keep it sane and throw up a musings a day early shall we?

So much in sport depends on timing. Success is so often about peaking at the right time. In Henrik Lundqvist the Rangers have the best goalie in the world playing at the very top of his game. A (the?) leading Conn Smythe candidate, the Rangers have a huge advantage when he’s on his game. Right now it’s on fluke deflections that seem to be his undoing.

We’ve discussed it before, but the way he’s elevated his game (even further) in recent weeks it needs saying again; the Rangers have to keep Dominic Moore beyond this season, don’t they? Moore has beyond a strong penalty killer, a great defensive presence and has chipped in with leadership, some offense and filled in admirably for Derick Brassard. He’s a keeper.

Prediction: Ryan McDonagh will win a Norris trophy within the next four years. Not a wild prediction.

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Thoughts following a wild Game 7

The best there is

Since there’s absolutely no chance of me putting together a coherent post in the wake of that Game 7, I’m going to share some thoughts in bullet point form instead:

Henrik Lundqvist really struggled at the start of the season, but he was Vezina-caliber in the second half and raised his game again in the postseason. The bozos that have argued that Lundqvist isn’t elite because he hasn’t won a Cup can say whatever they want – Lundqvist’s performance last night speaks for itself. That was as outstanding a game as you’ll see from a netminder.

– It’s really hard to tell just how good this team is. Obviously we know they won’t ever make anything easy on themselves, but it’s also miraculous that they’ve reached the Eastern Conference Finals despite getting next to nothing offensively from two of their top offensive players – Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. New York’s depth players have been underappreciated for a long while, but they’ve really stepped up through the first two rounds. If the team had gotten even a little bit of production from Nash and Stepan, they probably wouldn’t have had to go to seven games in one or both of their first two matchups.

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Game 2 musings: Defensive adjustments, Kreider, matchups

Gene J. Puskar — AP Photo

Gene J. Puskar — AP Photo

The Rangers took Game One on Friday night in dramatic fashion, scoring twice in overtime for the 3-2 win. With Game Two coming tonight, the first of a back-to-back and the fourth of a four-in-five for the Rangers, that Game One victory was critical. The only way the Rangers stood a chance in this series was to –at the very least– get the split in Pittsburgh. Naturally, winning tonight and coming home with a 2-0 would be ideal. But the Penguins won’t play the same type of game they played on Friday night.

There were too many thoughts I had following Game One, so it only made sense to do a brain dump in a musings format.

  • The Rangers scored two goals because the Penguins didn’t cover the slot. The Brad Richards goal was the direct result of Matt Niskanen coming over to help Olli Maata instead of sticking Richards in the slot. The overtime winner came from Sidney Crosby deserting the slot to get to Benoit Pouliot, who intercepted Rob Scuderi’s pass behind the net. Regardless, the Penguins won’t make those mistakes again.

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The Musings: Several Rangers standing out

Will the real Rick Nash please stand up.

Will the real Rick Nash please stand up.

As Rangers fans bask in the glory of a scrappy but successful series victory over the Flyers there’s not much time to look ahead to the Pens series. With that said, we thought we’d share a few thoughts on the Rangers so far.

Benoit Pouliot coming on strong

Pouliot has taken costly penalties and is anything but a complete player, but as the year has gone on Pouliot has developed into a core Ranger. As part of the Rangers’ best line for most of the season Pouliot has to be retained. His goal against the Flyers was a great example of why the Rangers need him. Pouliot drove to the net and was rewarded after a great pass from Zuccarello. It’s a simple concept but not enough Rangers get to the dangerous areas, Pouliot did and was rewarded. He should (and surely will be) rewarded with a new deal.

Anton Stralman

Stralman was immense in Game 7 against the Flyers. Games like that are why the Rangers should find a way to keep him, but those types of all action performances aren’t quite frequent enough to warrant the money Stralman will likely demand. When he’s on his game he can make a good first pass, he’s a good skater, he is willing to throw his body in front of pucks and is a pretty smart hockey player to boot. It’s a shame he can’t put all those aspects together consistently.

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