Archive for Playoffs

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Credit: AP / Fred Chartrand

We’ve all had a few days to let the dust from Game 2 settle. I’m sure a lot are still steaming over the in-game deployment choices by Alain Vigneault. I’m also sure there’s a good number of people who want the Rangers to come out firing on all cylinders tonight. I’m sure there are members of both factions too.

But despite the 0-2 series deficit, this is a pretty tight series. Game 2 went to double overtime with both teams playing fairly sloppy hockey. Game 1 was decided on a lucky bounce in the final ten minutes. So there are plenty of reasons to be positive heading into Game 3.

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Credit: AP / Sean Kilpatrick

The Rangers are in a pretty pickle right now, down 0-2 to the Senators and coming back to MSG for a must-win Game 3.The good news is that the series in not out of reach, and both games could have gone either way. The bad news is that the Rangers need some breaks. After the debacle that was Game 2, where terrible coaching, poor defense, and an off-night by Henrik Lundqvist cost them the tie, the Rangers need to make some adjustments to have a chance of coming back.

1. Goaltending

Sorry Hank, but you need to be the first item on this list. Hank did not have a good game on Saturday. He’s far from the main cause of the loss, as I went into yesterday, but when the Rangers score five goals, it’s a game you need to win. The weak first goal by JG Pageau really stands out to me as the type of shot Hank needs to stop. Does stopping that shot guarantee a win? Nope. But it’s one of those “what if” moments.

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Thoughts following Game 1

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Credit: AP / Sean Kilpatrick

The Rangers laid an egg last night in Ottawa, coming out slow and looking sloppy all night in a 2-1 loss. Henrik Lundqvist did the best he could to keep the Rangers in it, but penalties and luck kept him from doing so. Luckily it was only Game 1, and the goal for the Blueshirts is to come away with a split in Ottawa. They have a chance to salvage that on Saturday, but they can’t come out the way they did last night. As usual, I have some thoughts.

1. Last night’s game was oddly reminiscent of Game 3 against Montreal. It wasn’t as bad as that game, it wasn’t even close honestly, but the issues gave me bad flashbacks. There was no consistent forecheck. There was no consistent speed through the neutral zone. There was no sustained offensive pressure. Craig Anderson barely had to move, and most of his saves were pretty simple shots. It wasn’t Rangers hockey, and Guy Boucher made Alain Vigneault’s Rangers play right into their 1-1-3 trap (remember, it’s a 1-1-3, not a 1-3-1). The Rangers need to take a long look at themselves in the mirror and remember what they did in Games 4-6 against Montreal. That’s how they will win.

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Thoughts heading into Game 1

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AP Photo/Jay LaPrete

Tonight the Rangers and the Senators drop the puck in Game One of the Atlantic Division Final. The Rangers, despite finishing with the better record, do not have home ice advantage. That might actually suit them well, as their record away from MSG is far better than at home. They took two of three in Montreal in the first round, so their road success has translated to the playoffs so far. But Ottawa is not Montreal, and I have some thoughts.

1. Ottawa is not Montreal. This is both good and bad. This is good because the Sens do not have Carey Price. However the Sens are a much quicker and more skilled club. The Rangers were able to keep up with Montreal because the Blueshirts’ defensemen could skate with the relatively slow Habs forwards. The Senators are much quicker up front, so the blue liners are going to have to be on their ‘A’ game. A lot of folks are thinking this will be a quick series, but I think every game will be a toss up. Henrik Lundqvist is going to be the determining factor in this series.

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Scouting the opposition: Craig Anderson

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The Rangers are moving on to Phase 2 of their “skip the Metropolitan and tear through the Atlantic” master plan to win the Stanley Cup. Their next opponent is the Ottawa Senators. After dispatching an injury-riddled Bruins’ club in six games, the Sens aim to punch a ticket to the Conference Finals.

A big part of Ottawa’s success in the first round was the solid play of goaltender Craig Anderson. He has become something of a cult hero in the Canadian capital due to his wife Nicholle’s courageous battle with a rare form of cancer (nasopharyngeal carcinoma). Her treatments are progressing well from all accounts, and on a personal level, the Anderson family is easy to root for and we should all hope that everything ends well in a difficult circumstance. Read More→

Categories : Goaltending, Playoffs
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Rangers vs. Senators: Defense preview

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Erik Karlsson led the league in scoring by a defensemen three straight seasons from 2013-2016

Erik Karlsson is so good that you could make a case that he alone gives Ottawa the edge on defense over the Blueshirts.

The 26-year-old D-man is in the midst of his greatest season – which we seem to say every year. In addition to being the catalyst for the Senators’ offense, Karlsson has really rounded out his defensive play and is now a shutdown player in his own end, too.

Karlsson is averaging over 30 minutes a game so far during the playoffs and shows no signs of being hampered by two hairline fractures in his left foot. Keeping him in check may be the key to the series.

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Rangers vs. Senators – Forwards Preview

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It’s been well-documented at this point that the Rangers ousted the Canadiens in the first round by prioritizing skill throughout their lineup at forward.  Montreal was a well-coached team with outstanding goaltending, but they were simply unable to match New York’s depth.

Though they employ a structured, defensive style of hockey, the Ottawa Senators pose a very different challenge for the Rangers to deal with in the second round of the playoffs.  Head coach Guy Boucher is well-known for not just his neutral zone trap, but also juggling his lines.

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Categories : Forwards, Playoffs
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Photo Credit: Getty Images / Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Phot

The Rangers and Senators officially kick off their series on Thursday night in Ottawa. With four days off between games, the Rangers are going to be able to rest and regroup after a hard-fought Montreal series. Ottawa isn’t as big, but they are quicker and more skilled. Here are three keys for the Blueshirts to be successful and advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

1. Consistent speed

The Rangers finally got their collective acts together in the final three games against Montreal, all wins. They used their speed to wear down the Habs, who were unable to keep up late in games. The Senators are a faster team, but still have a weak blue line and significantly weaker goaltending (not many can match Carey Price).

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Schedule for the Senators series

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AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

The schedule for the series with the Senators has been released. The Rangers are the lower seeded team again, so the series will start in Ottawa.

Game 1: Thursday, April 27th 7 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, April 29th 3 p.m.
Game 3: Tuesday, May 2nd 7 p.m.
Game 4: Thursday, May 4th 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Saturday, May 6th TBD
Game 6: Tuesday, May 9th TBD
Game 7: Thursday, May 11th TBD

All games going forward are going to be on some kind of NBC network. The Rangers are at home for Games 3, 4, and 6.

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Rangers vs. Senators: Systems preview

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The second round matchup is now set, as the Rangers will take on the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division Final. The Sens closed out the Bruins in overtime last night, setting the stage for Game One in Ottawa this week. The Senators are going to pose a problem for the Rangers, as they have some pretty solid team speed and skill.

The last time these two teams faced off in the playoffs was in 2012, with the Rangers winning in seven games. Both teams are completely different now, so there isn’t much to go on from that series. While the Senators certainly do not have the forward depth to match the Blueshirts, they have a good amount of speed and skill throughout the lineup. Erik Karlsson looms large as well. They play very well and are a disciplined team under Guy Boucher.

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Categories : Hockey Tactics, Playoffs
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