Archive for Playoffs
Tyler Johnson scored the first three Tampa Bay goals, one shorthanded, one on the powerplay, and one at even strength, to carry the Bolts to a decisive 5-2 win in Game Two. We all knew the Rangers wouldn’t make this easy on us. Of course, the Lightning are a great team, so this really shouldn’t be a shocker. What was shocking was how badly the Rangers played on defense, and how badly luck reared its ugly head.
Two of Johnson’s goals came on fortuitous bounces –and you create your own luck, which he did– with multiple Rangers blowing tires to start the plays. But as I just mentioned, you create your own luck, and the Rangers didn’t exactly do much to stop the offensive chances from flowing for the Bolts. They took a bunch of penalties, they had a bunch of blown coverages, they made poor decisions, and to make matters worse, they didn’t take advantage of their chances.
Such is life. The Rangers always lose Game Two. On to the goals:
Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals went to the Rangers, and that game was more eventful than about 90% of the previous 12 playoff games played by the Rangers this year. This game was pretty fast paced, with the Rangers and Lightning exchanging rushes and getting shot attempts. Both Ben Bishop and Henrik Lundqvist stood tall, especially Bishop –who is really tall anyway– who made 28 saves. Lundqvist made 23 saves.
The Rangers really controlled play against the Lightning yesterday, putting up a 60% puck possession advantage throughout the contest. They also controlled the scoring chance battle, really getting back to their rush game and getting those chances (more on that below). The Lightning did not follow the mold of the Caps and Penguins before them, and did not clog the neutral zone. The Rangers took advantage to get those attempts. That said, both Ranger goals were of the “greasy, dirty, gritty” variety. Gotta have both.
On to the goals:
The New York Rangers came roaring back last round, erasing a 3-1 deficit to beat the Capitals on Derek Stepan’s overtime winner. Now they have the Tampa Bay Lightning, a matchup not many New Yorkers wanted to see. Tampa is quick, talented, and deep. They have great goaltending, and their overall team defense is solid (but not deep). They have the speed to match the Rangers, something few teams in the league can boast.
But the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist. They have been battle tested. They have been there before. The Bolts have not, and that may be the Blueshirts’ biggest advantage in this series.
Halfway there! For those of you who survived without anxiety/panic/heart attacks — or those of you who didn’t, but are home from the hospital — it’s time for some more high pressure fun! The Blueshirts host the Bolts today at 1. Here at BSB, our flawless predictions are ready for your reading pleasure. Spoiler alert: we’re all too scared to pick against the home team, and most of us don’t get how the Ducks are still in it. Look out for constant coverage, as games are every other day throughout Memorial Day Weekend.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs New York Rangers
Dave’s pick: Rangers in 7. The games these teams played in November are meaningless. They were 7 months ago, and both sides had injuries. TBL has a talented and deep group of forwards that can practically score at will and a goalie that has been lights out against New York. Their D is their perceived weakness, but it’s not much of one. The Rangers are still, probably, without Mats Zuccarello, which is a huge hit to their offense. I really don’t like this matchup. I’m a homer though.
Justin’s pick: Rangers in 7. After another 3-1 comeback, I’m in full on homer mode. No objectivity whatsoever here. That said, Tampa is going to be an incredibly difficult out. I think in the end, Henrik Lundqvist is the difference.
Becky’s pick: Rangers in 6. My original bracket, of which the West is a hot mess of red but the East is pretty in tact, says that this matchup ends with Tampa taking the cake. That was obviously before the playoffs started. The Bolts have had extensive offensive input from their fetuses (feti?) and could be dangerous should Steven Stamkos come alive, but inexperience paired with the long haul of the playoffs and beating a barely there Red Wings team followed by the Price-only Habs don’t impress me much. The Rangers – King Hank, specifically – are locked in. They know how to adapt, something we’re not sure of the inexperienced Bolts. Call me crazy, but I think/hope the boys in blue spare us the heartache.
Suit’s pick: Rangers in 7. Four teams left, former Torts disciples scattered throughout these organizations. It’s cool, no correlation there. This is the matchup I was hoping for. Not because they made us look silly during the regular season, but because of obvious narratives, the make up of these rosters, and the systems employed on both benches. These teams are evenly matched in so many respects it’s hard to pick who will come out on top. In the end, Hank will stand tall.
Kevin’s pick: ??? This is the one matchup I was afraid of. The Rangers had no answer for Tampa Bay’s speed and skill during the regular season – and though they are a better team now, I’m not sure that’s going to change. It’s not even Steven Stamkos that has me worried, it’s the Ondrej Palat/Tyler Johnson/Nikita Kucherov line that’s going to be a real handful. Henrik Lundqvist is in hero mode, so it’s certainly possible he could steal a couple games and swing the series. But I’m not sure the Blueshirts can score enough to keep up with TB without having Mats Zuccarello in the lineup. And for the record – I am refusing to make an actual prediction.
Chris’ Pick: Rangers in 7. Fans shouldn’t expect anything less stressful than the series before. Tampa are faster, deeper and more skilled than the Caps. They share the same (if not more) high end talent and both Ben Bishop and Tampa have owned the Rangers recently. Fortunately experience still counts for something. The Rangers won’t be fazed by the occasion and if they can tidy up their breakouts, if they can stay disciplined and if they can get some secondary scoring I can see the Rangers sneaking the series but it will be close either way. If the Rangers can limit the Johnson line and don’t let Callahan come back to haunt them, Rangers in seven. Only just.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Anaheim Ducks
Dave’s pick: Blackhawks in 6. I don’t understand the Ducks at all. Their blue line and goaltending are both huge question marks.They don’t have the bottom-six depth to match up. But they keep winning. Meanwhile, the Hawks are a team built for deep runs. Crawford is a question mark, but as is Andersen. I give the edge to the Hawks though.
Justin’s pick: Blackhawks in 6. I agree with Dave, in that the Ducks’ continue to flummox me. They have a ton of talent up front, but the back end and goaltending is suspect. They also haven’t really dealt with a high-end opponent yet. I think Chicago catches the Ducks off guard and punches another ticket to the Final.
Becky’s pick: Blackhawks in 6. I don’t really believe that the Ducks have faced too much of a hard time in these playoffs, and I think that Andersen’s ability hasn’t quite been tested yet. Patrick Kane is a beast and the Hawks have proved that both of their goaltenders are capable of backing up their offensive talent. Half of me thinks that the Hawks clean up in five, but it’s the conference finals, so let’s stick with six.
Suit’s pick: Ducks in 6. I’ve been picking the Ducks since the beginning, so I’m going to stick with them, even though on paper it probably doesn’t make sense. With that said, they have skill and they have grit that can skate. Defense and goaltending aren’t all-time, but they seem to bare down when it matters. Their power play has been unstoppable. The Hawks are the Hawks, but ‘keep the puck away’ from our goalie can only work so many times. Ducks in 6.
Kevin’s pick: Blackhawks in 6. Boy did I underestimate both of these teams, and I feel like an idiot for it. Chicago just didn’t feel the same during the regular season, but I should have realized this team is more than capable of flipping the switch come playoff time. I’m still not totally sold on Anaheim and think the Ducks have really benefited from two easy matchups. Chicago just has too much everything, so unless the Blackhawks’ goaltending implodes again, they’ll take this one in six.
Chris’ pick: Blackhawks in 7. Are the Hawks the closest thing to a dynasty we’ve had in recent times? Another conference final and/or a trip to the SCF would get them close to such a lofty status. The hawks are deeper but the Ducks look unstoppable as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf seem to be doing what they want when they want. This series will be a test of Anaheim’s depth – can they go toe to toe with Chicago? – the Hawks may be the deepest team in the league. If Anaheim can overpower the Hawks physically they could force their way past the Hawks but the Hawks have too much pure talent for me and will survive another long series.
It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but the New York Rangers survived against the Washington Capitals, and are now set to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Conference Finals. Although the Lightning finished second in the Atlantic, many pegged them to move on to the Conference Finals. Seeding doesn’t matter at this point though.
The Lightning took all three matchups from the Rangers in convincing fashion during the regular season. But they played all three games in a two-week span in November-December. The last game was played on December 1. The Rangers didn’t have Ryan McDonagh for two of those games. They dressed three guys that aren’t on the team anymore. Tampa Bay didn’t have Victor Hedman for two of those games. Those games were almost 7 months ago.
That said, the Lightning are unlike any team the Rangers have faced this postseason. They dispatched Crosby and Ovechkin, but the supporting casts for those stars were sub-par at best. The Lightning have the star power in Steven Stamkos, and tremendous scoring depth to complement it.
After their historic comeback against the Capitals, the Rangers have punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Final against a very skilled and very deep Tampa Bay Lightning team. There will be narratives about reuniting with old friends and a lopsided season series, but those will generally be media fluff. However, there has been legitimate debate about the impact that Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop has had during his first playoff run as a starter.
His numbers so far in this postseason are very good. However, his stats haven’t exactly lined up with the eye test to this point. Let’s dig into his game a little bit and figure out exactly what the Rangers are up against. I actually did a breakdown of Bishop’s style way back in 2012, when he was first breaking into the league with Ottawa. Much has changed, however. Since this is our third goalie scouting report so far this postseason (Fleury, Holtby), you know the drill by now: Stance, Crease movement/depth, Equipment, Puck-handling ability and Exploitable Weaknesses. Here we go… Read More→
Here’s the video of the winner. Enjoy for one more day.
With the Rangers stunning victory over the Capitals now in the history books, attention will now turn to the Eastern Conference finals and opponents Rangers South Tampa Bay. There’ll be a more thorough look ahead to the ECF over the next couple days but let’s throw up some quick hits about the matchup with the high octane Lightning.
The Rangers can’t progress past the Lightning if they play the way they did against the Caps. The Rangers never-give-up attitude was admirable, their play at times impressive but individual errors, inconsistency and a lack of a 60 minute effort in any of the seven games against the Caps will be more ruthlessly punished against Tampa.
Somehow the Rangers managed to outlast Braden Holtby. That was after they ran into a hot goalie in Marc Andre Fleury in round one. It begs the question, are the Rangers struggling to finish or have they really faced two exceptional goalies on a hot streak? Where does Ben Bishop sit amongst opposing goaltenders?
The schedule for the Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning has been released, with the series starting this Saturday.
- Game 1: Sat 5/16 at NYR, NBC at 1pm
- Game 2: Mon 5/18 at NYR, NBCSN at 8pm
- Game 3, Wed 5/20 at TBL, NBCSN at 8pm
- Game 4, Fri 5/22 at TBL, NBCSN at 8pm
- Game 5, Sun 5/24 at NYR, NBCSN at 8pm
- Game 6, Tues 5/26 at TBL, NBCSN at 8pm
- Game 7, Fri 5/29 at NYR, NBCSN at 8pm
For the second year in a row in the Division Finals, the New York Rangers erased a 3-1 series deficit to advance to the Conference Finals. Once again, this game ended with a 2-1 score. Once again, the goaltenders stood on their heads. Once again, the Rangers won an elimination game at home.
Braden Holtby had 37 saves. Henrik Lundqvist had 35 saves. Both goalies put on a clinic in this series. Both goalies are the reasons why this series went seven. The Rangers won, but give Holtby his due. Wow.
That’s all I got folks. On to the goals: