Category: Playoffs

ECQF Game Seven: Rangers at Caps in a best of one

Ben Solomon for The New York Times

Ben Solomon for The New York Times

Another day, another Game Seven for the Rangers. We all know what the Rangers need to do tonight. They need to win the special teams battle. They need to win the boards battle. They need to win the defensive battle. They need to win the high-priced real estate. They need to score. If you have a heart monitor, I’d recommend using it tonight. If you’re like me, you will need a beverage or two to get through this.

Be sure to catch up on everything you need to know for this series:

Game Six goal breakdown
Game Five goal breakdown
Game Four goal breakdown
Game Three goal breakdown
Game Two goal breakdown
Game One goal breakdown
How the Caps will match up lines
Keys for Ranger success
Special teams may decide series
Scouting Braden Holtby
Previewing the Caps systems
Caps will be a tough series for the Rangers  Read more »

Another seventh game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

The Rangers are pretty good at making us sweat. This club went to seven games twice (Ottawa, Washington) and six games once (Devils) last season. They went to seven games in 2009 (Washington). There was only one series in this time frame that didn’t go to seven games, and that was in 2011 when the Rangers lost to the Caps in five games. If the Rangers are one thing, they sure are consistent.

This series has been on par with the other seven game series the Rangers have played. They appear to have been dominated for most of the games, but have persevered due to their goaltending and defense. They have all been low scoring, although this series has seen a pair of 4-3 blips on the radar. The Rangers may be maddeningly inconsistent on the ice, but they are consistent in their ability to stay in games and make it a series, no matter the makeup of the team.

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ECQF Game Six goal breakdown: Rangers force Game Seven in Washington

This game shall forever be known as the Henrik Lundqvist show. Lundqvist stopped all 27 shots thrown at him, including 12 in the third period, en route to a shutout and a 1-0 win for the Rangers. With the win, the Rangers forced Game Seven in Washington in a series that has seen the home team hold serve in each of the first six games. Braden Holtby dueled Hank shot for shot except for a lone Derick Brassard shot found its way through in the second period. Since there was one goal today, we will get to the goal and then some random game thoughts.

Rangers 1, Caps 0

The Rangers had a good shift here, cycling the puck with Brassard, Rick Nash, and Mats Zuccarello, John Moore, and Anton Stralman on the ice. There was one occasion when Moore pinched in to keep the puck in the Caps’ zone. The puck eventually worked its way back to Moore, who fed it to Brassard in the high slot. Brassard wound up for the shot, hesitated (he later admitted he shot because the fans kept chanting “shoot the puck”), then wound up again and ripped a slap shot that deflected off Steve Oleksy and past Holtby. The goal was a credit to the entire Rangers unit on the ice, and to Nash in front, who screened Holtby. No picture for this goal, nothing came out clear. Sorry about that.

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ECQF Game Six: Do or die

COREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

COREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

The home team held serve for the fifth straight game in this series, and if the Rangers want to have any chance at a Cup, the home team will need to hold serve for a sixth straight game. We all know this series would be a tough one, but the fact that the Rangers have been absolutely dominated from a puck possession standpoint is very surprising. The Caps have gameplanned well, and now it’s time for the Rangers to answer. It’s either send it back to Washington or pack it up until next year. They came back from down 3-2 last year against Ottawa, and they can do it again.

Be sure to catch up on everything you need to know for this series:

Game Five goal breakdown
Game Four goal breakdown
Game Three goal breakdown
Game Two goal breakdown
Game One goal breakdown
How the Caps will match up lines
Keys for Ranger success
Special teams may decide series
Scouting Braden Holtby
Previewing the Caps systems
Caps will be a tough series for the Rangers

Read more »

Rangers struggling with puck possession in series

KOSTAS LYMPEROPOULOS/ CSM LANDOV

KOSTAS LYMPEROPOULOS/ CSM LANDOV

Yesterday, I found myself intrigued by a series of conversations on Twitter by Japers Rink, Corey Sznajder of Shut Down Line, and George Ays (RangerSmurf) about the complete domination by the Caps in puck possession throughout the series. Looking at BTN this morning, I see why they were in such shock by the domination. The Rangers, who were a dominant puck possession team throughout the season, are getting thoroughly out-possessed by a Caps team that wasn’t a good puck possession team in the regular season.

There is only one player on the team who is on the positive side of Corsi, and that is Mats Zuccarello at a 2.44 Corsi/ON (aka Corsi/60). Kris Newbury (1 game), Steve Eminger, and Ryan Callahan are all at 0.00 Corsi/ON, but every other Ranger is in the negative in this category. Even Carl Hagelin, who despite putting up points is struggling in the possession department (-13.25 Corsi/ON). You might say that this is due to the tough assignments, but Zuccarello is third on the team in Corsi Rel QoC (5.321), so that’s not the determining factor. Zone starts aren’t a factor either, with the top offensive guys getting the most offensive starts, but still struggling to maintain puck possession.  (All numbers at even strength.)

So what is the issue?

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Goal breakdown: Ribiero puts Rangers on the brink

This was a tough one. The Rangers played a very good game again, but came up short in overtime for the second time this series. After giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead early, Brian Boyle undid his goodwill by taking a stupid penalty by slashing Mike Ribiero. Naturally, the Caps scored on the powerplay, and eventually won it in overtime. Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head again, but Braden Holtby was also equal to the task. Both made some great stops to keep the game tied. Now it’s do or die in New York on Mother’s Day. On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Caps 0

One step in the wrong direction, goal.

One step in the wrong direction, goal.

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ECQF Game Five: Best of three

Photo Credit: Washington Post

Photo Credit: Washington Post

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a series. The Rangers held serve at home, tying the series at two games apiece in the process. Now the series shifts to Washington with the Rangers knowing they can outscore Washington if need be. That is a big mental advantage for a club that is nowhere near as skilled as the Caps. The bad news is that Marc Staal is still out, and likely will be for the remainder of the series. The Rangers have won without him, and a win tonight gives the Rangers a chance to clinch at home on Sunday.

Be sure to catch up on everything you need to know for this series:

Game Four goal breakdown
Game Three goal breakdown
Game Two goal breakdown
Game One goal breakdown
How the Caps will match up lines
Keys for Ranger success
Special teams may decide series
Scouting Braden Holtby
Previewing the Caps systems
Caps will be a tough series for the Rangers

Read more »

Goal breakdown: Rangers even the series in a heart-stopping game

Game Four was one of the best games the Rangers have played all year. They came out strong, played a physical game, played good defense, and generated a lot of scoring chances. The game itself was very exciting as well, but the Rangers appeared to trade chances with a Caps team that is much more skilled than them. This is what caused the Rangers to blow their initial two goal lead and almost blow their second two goal lead. They eventually held on in a frantic final three minutes to even the series.

These were two HUGE wins for the Rangers on home ice to even the series. Any loss at home would have all but clinched the series for the Caps. Now, the Rangers head back to Washington with a lot of momentum heading into Game Five.

Rangers 1, Caps 0

Braden Holtby, who is usually good with the puck, handled the puck at the boards and tried to clear the puck up the middle. Taylor Pyatt knocked down the clearing attempt, and it went straight to Carl Hagelin with Holtby out of the net. Hagelin’s shot was blocked, but Brad Richards was able to put it into the open net. There is no picture on this because A) It’s not needed, and B) They were blurry. Sorry about that.

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ECQF Game Four: Caps at Rangers in another must win

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

The Rangers won Game Three, which was a must-win. Funny thing is that Game Four is also a must-win. The Rangers can ill-afford to head to Washington down 3-1, so tonight is another game where the Rangers need to get their W. The good news is that Ryane Clowe is back, in place of the injured Darroll Powe. This means that for the first time, the Rangers have all of their key players dressing (Powe notwithstanding). The crowd was raucous on Monday, and they need to be even rowdier tonight.

Be sure to catch up on everything you need to know for this series:

Game Three goal breakdown
Game Two goal breakdown
Game One goal breakdown
How the Caps will match up lines
Keys for Ranger success
Special teams may decide series
Scouting Braden Holtby
Previewing the Caps systems
Caps will be a tough series for the Rangers

Read more »

Debunking the myth that Henrik Lundqvist isn’t a great playoff goalie

Chuck Myers/Getty Images

Chuck Myers/Getty Images

For reasons unbeknownst to me, some members of the national media seem to be under the impression that Henrik Lundqvist has been a failure as a playoff goaltender.

I could understand that sentiment a little prior to last season, but a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 should have quashed any conversation about Lundqvist’s postseason struggles.

Instead, an ugly stat had been making the rounds – Lundqvist has allowed three or more goals in 29 of his 58 playoff starts – and a suspect goal off the stick of Jason Chimera in Game One brought some of Lundqvist’s old critics out of the woodwork. Read more »