Archive for Playoffs
There are still 36 games left in the 2015-2016 regular season, but thanks to the new playoff format, it’s not too difficult to forecast some playoff matchups.
The Washington Capitals hold an 18-point lead for the Metro Division crown and would all but have to go on a three-week team vacation to the Maldives to give any of their rivals a chance at catching them. Behind them, just a point separates the the Rangers and Islanders as the current No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. The two clubs are likely to jockey back and forth for position down the stretch, but it seems like fate that they will clash in the opening round of the 2016 postseason.
Last Saturday was a very, very strange day in Rangersland. So many of us were either angry, or in denial, or still numb to the incredulous feeling of losing a Game 7 at the Garden. I thought for sure one thing would be true, with 2012 as a good indicator: the 2014-15 NHL season was over.
Laying out beside a pool with two of my diehard Ranger fan friends, we went through most of the motions of grieving. There was anger, questioning, bargaining, heck I think I got choked up once or twice… but then something strange happened. We remembered that there was a Game 7 that night, and we made plans to head out that night to watch it.
How could that be? We’re Rangers fans, man, this was our year. We can’t watch anymore. The only benefit of losing in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final is that after that, it was over, there was no worrying about who you wanted to win the Cup. Sadly, last year also taught us that the offseason is very, very long. When you get excited to watch a replayed TOR-ANA game live in a bar in Toronto, you know the withdrawal is real.
Although the grieving period for many Rangers fans is still in some of the early stages, hockey continues on tonight with Game One of the Stanley Cup Final. At least one former Ranger will hold Lord Stanley’s Cup in victory within the next two weeks, and here at BSB, we guess which one(s) that is.
Suit and Justin were still too upset to predict.
Dave’s Pick: Blackhawks in 7. Both teams are skilled, fast, and deep. Both teams have issues on the blue line. Both teams have question marks in net. The Bolts are weak on the blue line after their top pair, and the Hawks have four defensemen that don’t get Stu Bickel’d. In the end, I think experience wins over the new kids.
Chris’ Pick: Blackhawks in 6. Both teams are skilled fast and deep… hold on, Dave already said that? Well it’s true. Arguably the two best offensive teams in the league are the last teams standing but you can never have too much experience and the Hawks will not be fazed for one second, given they’re on the cusp of a modern day dynasty. Tampa can take over games and Johnson and Stamkos are every bit the match for the Hawks top end talent but in Toews, the Hawks have the best leader in hockey, in Keith they have a stud on the blueline at the very top of his game. This figures to be a high scoring affair, and I give the edge to Chicago. If they start fast, it could be done in 5.
Kevin’s Pick: Blackhawks in 7. Tampa has been very impressive all year, but you have to go with experience, right? I keep going back and forth on this because I envision the Triplets stealing a game or two by themselves, which would make things really interesting. But in the end, I’m not picking against Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.
Becky’s Pick: Blackhawks in 6. I’m a completely biased fan, but after watching a lot of Central Division hockey (c/o being a casual Blues fan), I have seen what the Blackhawks are capable of. Coach Quenneville is not afraid to put in his backup goalie if he feels unsure about Corey Crawford, and as special as the Triplets and Anton Stralman-Victor Hedman are, Ben Bishop looked shaky at best despite shutting out the Rangers in Game 7. Jonathan Toews is the definition of clutch, and he’s been here several times. The Hawks are speedy and can throw some hits. I think they’ll take it in five, but let’s be safe and say six.
The Suit’s Pick: Tampa in 7. Stanley Cups often come down to goaltending and I’m betting on Bishop to rebound this series and steal it from Chicago. Chicago’s deeper, more offensively gifted, yada, yada, yada, but I think Tampa will pull off the upset. Beating the best team in the NHL (cough, cough) may have put enough wind back in their sails to weather the storm. I’ll be rooting for them.
I got nothing on this folks. Sorry. I know you expect a certain quality of analysis from me, but tonight I got nothing. The Rangers didn’t show up. Tampa Bay played a great road game. Apparently Ryan McDonagh had a broken foot and Marc Staal a broken ankle, per Anson Carter.
There’s a rant coming from me at some point, I need to gather my thoughts. The rest of the writers have their thoughts as well. Use this thread to vent your frustrations.
It’s another Game 7 for the New York Rangers. This time though, the incredibly skilled Tampa Bay Lightning are what stand between the Rangers and a second straight Prince of Wales trophy. There’s not much else you need to say about a Game 7
As always, GIFs from the game are up on www.newyorkrangersgifs.com. Any feedback to improve searchability would be greatly appreciated.
Derick Brassard delivered.
He doesn’t wear a letter, but the top line center for the New York Rangers delivered last night when facing elimination. Brassard notched a hat trick and two assists for the Rangers, as they forced Game Seven with a decisive 7-3 win in Tampa Bay last night. This game was Brassard and Henrik Lundqvist against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and if Lundqvist is the King, then Brassard was the Prince.
Lundqvist, who made 36 saves, was spectacular last night. Don’t believe me? Check out this save, and this save, and this save, and this save, and this save. The man was unreal all night. In a night where the Bolts dominated all but the third period, King Henrik bailed them out, while Prince Brass ensured this would be sent to New York.
On to the goals:
Another day, another elimination game for the Rangers. This seems to be the status-quo recently. Henrik Lundqvist is 12-3 in elimination games, but the Bolts are probably the best overall team he’s faced in an elimination game since the Kings last year. The Bolts are without Cedric Paquette tonight, so maybe that will help. Then again, it’s been the top-six that have murdered the Rangers defense. Not the bottom six.
The Rangers are in Tampa Bay tonight, looking to stave off elimination and send the series back to New York for another Game Seven. The Bolts have already said they don’t want to come back to New York because, well, what else are they supposed to say? “Why yes, we want to go back to New York instead of trying to close this out in six, so we are going to forfeit”?
Throughout the season, the Rangers dealt with injuries to Ryan McDonagh, Dan Boyle, and most importantly Henrik Lundqvist, and survived. But yet it’s the injury to Mats Zuccarello that throws the offense into a tailspin of inconsistency. Some days they light the opposition up, some days they forget how to score. It’s a testament to how important to the offense –and to the depth– Zuccarello is.
Zuccarello has tremendous chemistry with Derick Brassard, and it appears he was the catalyst for a lot of the offense on that line. However, it’s the need to move players up in the lineup to roles in which they may not be ready that has really affected the lineup. Most notably affected is Martin St. Louis, who should be playing a sheltered, third line role getting offensive zone starts. Now, he’s thrust back into a top-six role.
The Rangers got back to basics on Friday night, limiting the Bolts to one goal after allowing six in two straight losses. With the series tied at two, Game Five has become pivotal. A win for the Bolts means heading home with a chance to close it out. A win for the Rangers means all the pressure is on a young Lightning team. In a series that hasn’t lacked any excitement, tonight should be another pulse-elevating one.
Chris Kreider still isn’t perfect. He still has a lot of growing to do, he takes himself out of plays looking for (but often finding) big hits and until recently, many fans and media alike have demanded more consistency from a player who literally has everything in his tool kit. Hell, Kreider takes too many penalties and isn’t exactly Selke material in his own zone either. In short, there are warts to his game.
The Rangers evened the series against the Lightning with a gusty albeit imperfect win. They were shaky at the back, had to over rely on a brilliant Henrik Lundqvist and will have been delighted that Rick Nash had a breakout offensive performance but one thing is becoming more regular for the Rangers in the playoffs and that’s the development of Kreider.