Archive for Playoffs

With all the negativity that spouted after Wednesday night’s loss that put the Rangers on the brink of elimination, I, for the most part, avoided Twitter and the blog comments. Nothing that was being said was going to be new, and I mostly disagreed with everything being said. People calling to trade Rick Nash, trade Ryan McDonagh, saying Cam Talbot is better than Henrik Lundqvist (seriously, that was said). It was mind boggling.

The Rangers have not been a bad team in this series. It’s arguable that they have in fact been the better team. They were definitely better in the last two games, but Braden Holtby stole those for Washington. You don’t get brownie points for playing well in the playoffs if you don’t win, but there are a lot of positive things coming from this team, despite the losses:

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Categories : Playoffs
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Andre Burakovsky scored twice, and it was all the Washington Capitals needed to put the President’s Trophy winning New York Rangers on the brink of elimination. For the second straight game, the Rangers were the better team, dominating the Caps all over the ice. But for the second straight game, Braden Holtby pulled a rabbit out of his hat, and stole a game for the Caps.

Henrik Lundqvist did everything humanly possible to give the Rangers a win, but he has to be perfect in order for this club to win. Neither of the goals from Burakovsky were on him, but since the Rangers can’t buy a goal with all of King Midas’ gold (or silver), the Caps came away with the win. It’s maddening to watch a goalie like Lundqvist, who has a .940 SV% these playoffs, go down 3-1 in a series because his team has scored four goals in five goals in four games, with three coming in Game Two. You can’t win if you can’t score.

On to the goals:

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups, Playoffs
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Braden Holtby has been the story for the Washington Capitals, outdueling Henrik Lundqvist throughout the series –a difficult task– and stealing Game Three for Washington. The New York Rangers now need a win to avoid getting into a 3-1 hole. They came back from 3-1 once last year, but these Caps are different from last year’s Pens.

Kevin did a nice run down of how the Caps play today, Justin broke down how to beat Braden Holtby, Chris did a full preview of the series, and I wrote about why shadowing Ovechkin isn’t the right move. If you haven’t checked those out, you should. They are good reads while waiting for the game to begin.

Caps Systems

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Categories : Game Thread, Playoffs
Comments (13)
May
06

Is Alain Vigneault getting out-coached?

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Yesterday, I wrote about how the Washington Capitals are succeeding at getting the New York Rangers away from their rush-based offense, forcing them to play more of a cycle game. Generally speaking, the Caps have adjusted their breakouts and neutral zone play to limit passing and skating lanes, which forces the Rangers into more of a dump-and-chase offensive attack.

This was something the LA Kings did very well last June. With short and quick passes in the defensive zone on the breakout, the Caps are neutralizing the Rangers tenacious forecheck. By clogging the middle of the ice in the neutral zone, the Caps are forcing the Rangers to the outside and into dump-and-chase hockey.

Those slight adjustments have been made by Barry Trotz to, thus far, pretty good success. The one thing that has yet to be seen is how Alain Vigneault will react to those changes. Thus far, there haven’t been any changes in schemes to adjust for Trotz’s defensive strategy.

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Categories : Playoffs
Comments (16)
May
05

Someone trolled the Rangers Wikipedia page

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Looks like a Caps fan trolled the Rangers Wikipedia page. Something was certainly different after last night’s loss:

nyr wiki

The Rangers Twitter account is going forward with a #nocaps campaign. Clearly someone had some fun.

Categories : Playoffs
Comments (4)

We are through three games in the Metro Division Finals against the Washington Capitals, and all three games have been heart-attack-inducing. Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist have almost matched each other save for save, with Holtby stealing one last night to give the Caps a 2-1 series lead.

One of the prevalent observations is that the Rangers are “making it easy” on Holtby by “throwing a lot of shots at his gut.” The problem with this theory is that it discounts how good Holtby has been. Shots hit a goalie in the logo because of the positioning of the goaltender, not the quality of the shot. Holtby is playing to a .949 SV%, and while he’s had to make some spectacular saves, he’s been so good positionally that he doesn’t give the Rangers much to shoot at.

Limiting Rush Chances

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The most frustrating part about last night’s game wasn’t the result, it was the fact that the Rangers couldn’t buy a goal, couldn’t get a bounce, and the one favorable bounce went the Capitals’ way. The Rangers played their best game of the postseason, getting a high number of quality chances, but the bounces didn’t go their way. Pucks hopped over sticks. Shots went just wide. Loose pucks were just out of reach. Loose pucks hit legs instead of sticks. Oy.

Braden Holtby was again solid in net, getting the shutout with 30 saves. The feeling was that the Rangers took a lot of “outside shots” because everything “hit Holtby in the chest.” It’s worth noting that these two items do not correlate. The Rangers had a lot of high quality chances. And getting hit in the chest is the mark of good positioning. Henrik Lundqvist was just as good, making more highlight-reel saves, but it was a shot from below the goal line that snuck past him after a pair of awkward bounces.

Blame for this game, because blame needs to go somewhere apparently, has been on Rick Nash and Keith Yandle. Let’s straighten this out for a second. First, that goal was, in no way, shape, or form, Yandle’s fault. Second, Nash played a phenomenal game. Dude can’t buy a goal, despite great chances. Even though he didn’t score, he did everything else right.

On to the goal:

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups, Playoffs
Comments (38)

A strong first period, complete with stretch passes and a competent forecheck, helped the Rangers even the series on Saturday afternoon. Now the series shifts to Washington for Games Three and Four, and the Blueshirts find themselves in a familiar situation. Heading away from home with the series tied. This happened last round, and the Rangers won three in a row to close out that series.

But these aren’t the Pens. The Caps are talented, deep, and have a white-hot Braden Holtby in net. Barry Trotz out-coached Alain Vigneault in Game One, getting Alex Ovechkin out against Keith Yandle and Dan Boyle. With last change, we should expect to see a lot of that tonight. It will be up to AV to get his top guys out there against Ovechkin, or else he will run amok like he did on Thursday.

Kevin did a nice run down of how the Caps play today, Justin broke down how to beat Braden Holtby, Chris did a full preview of the series, and I wrote about why shadowing Ovechkin isn’t the right move. If you haven’t checked those out, you should. They are good reads while waiting for the game to begin.

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Categories : Game Thread, Playoffs
Comments (12)
May
04

Thoughts following Games One and Two

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The Rangers are headed to Washington with the series tied at one a piece, the same way the Rangers headed to Pittsburgh last round. However, there was a lot more confidence heading to Pittsburgh than D.C., and I have to admit it’s not hard to see why. The Caps have found ways to take it to the Rangers over extended periods of time. The Penguins had one short burst of Sidney Crosby dominance, but they were never really taken seriously by the fans.

Tonight, the Rangers will look to continue their winning ways in Game Three, hopefully sparing us a few heart attacks in the process. But there was a lot to absorb after the first two games, some of which can’t really be detailed in goal breakdowns.

  • In Game One, the Caps really took it to the Rangers for the first two periods. The Rangers weren’t bad, but they weren’t playing their game. They allowed the Caps to physically abuse them. When that happens, the Rangers can’t get their offense going. They didn’t generate much offensively in those two periods, and it’s because the Blueshirts allowed the Caps to dictate the pace.

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Categories : Playoffs
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The New York Rangers evened the series with the Washington Capitals with a very strong 3-2 win in Game Two. This was a completely different Rangers team throughout the game, as they forced the Caps to play their game. The Rangers were aggressive on the forecheck, forcing turnovers, and using a combination of rushes and strong zone play to wear down the Caps and get quality scoring chances.

Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist were unreal in this game. Holtby made 29 very difficult saves, and Lundqvist made 34 saves. Both had a bunch of highlight reel saves (all available on www.nyrgifs.com), but Hank made the save of the season with a spinning cartwheel save on Evgeny Kuznetsov:

I can watch that save all day. But this series is certainly nerve-wracking. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.

On to the goals:

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups, Playoffs
Comments (19)