Thoughts following Game 1

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

• I’ll admit, it was really disappointing to see the Flyers strike first after such a dominant chance/possession showing in the first period by the Rangers. Hartnell’s hit on McDonagh that directly lead to McDonald’s goal was the stuff nightmares are made of. Fortunately, the Flyers abandoned the hard, forechecking physicality in favor of stupid stick penalties.

• Philly looked to have a bit of whiplash from the Rangers’ three scoring lines. Clearly, their priority pre-game was to shut down the St. Louis-Stepan-Nash line, but every time they turned their attention there, they got burned by Zuccarello or Richards or Hagelin.

• The first two periods were something of a microcosm of the Rangers season: tantalizing chances, high possession and yet no goals. Ray Emery made some half-decent saves, but it would have been really nice to be up 3-1 in the first or second.

• There really wasn’t a weak link the lineup last night. I thought all three defensive pairs acquitted themselves well, and the forward lines looked balanced and moved the puck exceedingly well. Read more »

Rangers take Game One over Flyers with dominating performance

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The Rangers and Flyers met in the playoffs for the first time since 1997, and the Rangers drew first blood. New York scored three goals in the third period en route to their 4-1 win at MSG. Brad Richards had a fantastic night, notching a goal and two assists. Martin St. Louis had two assists. Carl Hagelin scored a goal and drew a four-minute high sticking penalty that the Rangers scored twice on. The fourth line did their thing, playing solid defense and stifling Claude Giroux and the high-powered Flyers offense.

Henrik Lundqvist was forced to make only 14 saves, with just one of those coming in the third period. The Rangers absolutely dominated the game, and Hank just had to sit back and make the saves when he had to. If the Rangers continue to play like this, it will be a short series.

On to the goals:

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BSB playoff live chat

 

Metro Division Semis Game 1: Flyers at Rangers

Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff hockey is upon us. The Rangers and Flyers will see each other in the playoffs for the first time since the Legion of Doom bowled over the Rangers in 1997. For a complete preview of this series, including the systems Craig Berube has the Flyers playing, check out this post by Suit. Justin wrote a post on Steve Mason’s goaltending style, but he’s not playing tonight for the Flyers. Instead the Rangers will get Ray Emery, which gives the Blueshirts an even larger edge in net.

The Rangers will be without Chris Kreider for the duration of the series, but Ryan McDonagh will make his return to the lineup after dealing with a shoulder issue that cost him the final five games of the season. Jesper Fast will skate for Kreider, and after a bit of a scare, Derick Brassard will indeed be in the lineup.

Rangers Lines:

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Special pre-game chat reminder

Welcome to the playoffs, BSB’ers!  By popular demand, I will be hosting a pre-game chat on this first round eve for about 30 minutes.  Stop by around 6:15pm to fill up the queue, and we will chat from about 6:30pm-puck drop.  Hope to see everyone there.

The Musings: A rivalry renewed

RMcD = MVP?  Photo Credit: LoHud

RMcD = MVP? Photo Credit: LoHud

Today is the day a rivalry gets renewed. The Rangers entertain the Flyers tonight in a much anticipated series. Let’s throw a few musings up.

The series against the Flyers represents a no-win situation for the Rangers. In all honesty, there is not a huge amount separating the two teams but yet everyone expects the Rangers to win. The Flyers have a ton of talent but are very flawed. That said, it wouldn’t be the greatest of shocks if they beat the Rangers but it would cause serious fall-out in New York.

Is there a single Ranger forward you wouldn’t swap for Claude Giroux?

Beyond the obvious (Hank, McD, Nash), who holds they key to the second round for the Rangers? Mats Zuccarello. He has been the Rangers best powerplay forward all year and you have to assume the Flyers will take more penalties than the Rangers. If the Rangers can stay out of the box and Zuccarello can work some PP magic that may be the decisive factor.

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The Rangers will be a dangerous team in the playoffs

Photo: LoHud

Photo: LoHud

The title and story sounds familiar. The Rangers will be a dangerous team in the playoffs. The usual reason is because Henrik Lundqvist can steal a series, something he’s done multiple times in the past. But the Washington Capitals are not in the playoffs this year, so there needs to be a different narrative. This year’s team  looks different. This team is one of the hottest in the league heading into the playoffs. This year, the #fancystats put them up there with the best.

Puck possession and PDO (SV%+SH%) are two stats we use regularly around here. It’s been proven many, many times that teams that drive puck possession are teams that are successful. Teams with a high PDO (over 100) generally were “more lucky” and have abnormally high SH% or SV% (or both). Teams that rode those to the playoffs generally fizzle out early, as the luck runs out and their SH%/SV% regress to the mean. This may seem complicated and a bit of an abstract concept, but Exhibit A is the 2011-2012 LA Kings. Exhibit B is the 2013-2014 Toronto Maple Leafs, who didn’t even make the playoffs.

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Playoff Predictions: Round One

2014 contenders for Lord Stanley

2014 contenders for Lord Stanley

Here at BSB, we’re always using “expertise” and “knowledge” and “total guesses” to bring you news and our views on goings on around the Rangers organization and all around the NHL. A few of us have broken down our individual predictions for each of the Round 1 playoff series. We’ll be doing this as each round advances. Enjoy.

Detroit vs Boston

Kevin’s Pick: Bruins in 7. I love the way the Red Wings are playing right now and probably would have taken them over any other team in the Eastern Conference, but this is a nightmare matchup for Detroit.

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Rangers sign Mat Bodie out of Union College

Apologies for the delay on this one. Yesterday was one of those rare days where all of us got dumped on at work, and none of us could post on this.

The Rangers signed undrafted free agent defenseman Mat Bodie out of Union College yesterday, just days after leading his team to a National Championship. As a senior at Union, Bodie put up a line of 8-31-39 in 40 games. In his college career, Bodie put together a line of 28-96-124 in 154 games, impressive numbers for a kid who entered college at 6’0 and 165 lbs.

His size is why he went undrafted, but Julie Robenhymer notes that he is at least 15 pounds heavier since he entered college. Chris Peters, one of the best US hockey bloggers out there, compared him to Torey Krug of the Bruins.

Bodie’s signing adds a true offensive defenseman to the prospect pool for the Rangers. With Bodie, Conor Allen, Brady Skjei, and Dylan McIlrath in the system, the Rangers have done quite the job of restocking their defensive prospects after seeing so many graduate to the NHL.

A different way of looking at special teams statistics

Derek Stepan tallied 18 power play points this season and added three shorthanded assists to lead the team

The Rangers went on a bizarre tear in March in which they scored on seven of 41 shorthanded situations, yet managed just five goals in 45 of their own power play opportunities. Obviously that was just a weird anomaly, but it made me realize that the traditional ways of measuring special teams – power play and penalty kill percentages – might not be the best way to assess their impact on winning and losing.

We all know what a huge impact special teams have on individual hockey games, but noting what rate a team’s power play has scored at and how often a penalty kill has surrendered goals over the course of a long season seems kind of silly. The percentage stats put way too much stock on what happened in October, which has no bearing on the present. Plus, those percentage stats don’t factor in shorthanded goals for and against, and we just saw how crucial those were to the Rangers’ success.

Power plays are constantly affected by the same factors that influence many other stats – hot streaks, injuries and dumb luck. Even the worst power play in the league can get red-hot for stretches, while a unit featuring five All-Stars can suffer a lengthy drought. The same goes for PK units. Read more »