Winner. Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images
Stay of execution or the start of something special? The Rangers held on to get their first win of the Cup finals Wednesday night and give the fan base a glimmer of hope. Let’s have a little muse about how things went down.
Earlier this week we considered a few reasons to be cheerful despite the Rangers being 3 down in the series. One of those reasons was Chris Kreider who had a huge part to play in the game winning goal. Kreider’s mere presence causes problems, even against the best defenses in the league.
If Kreider can continue to go to the net, continue to play physically and get a little less reckless in his own zone, the sky’s the limit. Yes, Kreider needs to develop more facets to his game but he’s already scaring teams.
Martin St Louis. He leads the team in goals; he has three game winning tallies amongst his eight markers. If someone told me the Rangers would give up two first round picks and a captain that was pricing himself out of town for a trip to the Finals, I’d have definitely taken that deal. Well, that’s what we got. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and while St Louis hasn’t been brilliant every game he’s certainly justified Sather’s decision to bring him to New York.
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Scott Levy/Getty Images
Of course that game ended 1-0. Why wouldn’t it? For better or worse, this organization never makes things easy. Of course, the score should have been more like 4-0, if not for the heroics of young Dustin Tokarski. He kept a tired and outpaced Canadiens team in it until the end.
Now, you’ll forgive me for being a little disjointed in the aftermath of this victory, so if you wouldn’t mind I’m just going to meander a little bit through the jumbled mess that is my brain following the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup Finals berth in 20 years…
I became a Rangers fan back in 1992-1993. I started playing street hockey with some neighborhood kids and was hooked immediately. It was the very end of the regular season and the Blueshirts had failed to qualify for the playoffs. But hey, I was a huge Yankees fan, so why wouldn’t I support the Rangers?
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Does Kreider have the overall game to be the Rangers go-to guy on offense? (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Rangers are on the cusp of the Stanley Cup for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is their team depth. Eight players currently have ten or more points in this years playoffs, while nine forwards currently average over fourteen minutes per game. However, among this depth is also a lingering problem; no player has truly emerged as the go-to guy on offense.
Martin St Louis has recently shown a consistency that the entire league has been accustomed to seeing from him for a decade, and when you factor in his tragic circumstances, his performance has been admirable. Meanwhile Chris Kreider has produced in bursts and is the only Ranger that is producing at a point per game rate (nine in ten, to date) but Kreider has been defensively erratic and has produced in bunches. Can he be relied upon to be THE difference maker?
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(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The Rangers dropped a disappointing OT game to the Montreal Canadiens last night, by a score of 3-2. The Rangers dominated possession and shots on goal, but came up just a little short. Dustin Tokarski played fantastic and the Habs got just enough lucky bounces to the cut the series deficit in half. In the aftermath, I thought I’d share some…well, thoughts.
- As I mentioned (and Dave’s Fenwick chart shows), the Rangers dominated possession from start to finish. This is usually a recipe for winning a game, but Dustin Tokarski threw a wrench into that.
- It’s Tokarski’s upside that was the basis for Michel Therrien to give him the nod over Budaj when Price went down. Tokarski flat out stole that game and is the only reason we aren’t breaking out the brooms on Sunday.
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It’s funny how the playoffs work. During the regular season, sample sizes grow and long-term narratives take hold. Discussions emerge, debates rage and quantitative analyses are produced. The playoffs are a whole different animal. Most factors surrounding playoff teams are fleeting. Only as relevant as the last game. This makes life exceptionally difficult on hockey writers. Especially when your piece could become completely irrelevant in the next twenty-four hours.
At BSB, we prefer to take the long view and allow our analysis to play out over the appropriate sample. This is difficult this time of year, and the luxury of research and trial and error aren’t guaranteed. It’s this phenomenon that has grown my fondness for these “thoughts” posts. You may think that they are very similar to Chris’ musings posts. You’d be wrong. His are better. But for now, you’re stuck with me. Here are some Ranger related thoughts heading into Friday’s clash in Philly…
- It’s really nice to see Marty St. Louis coming to life in these playoffs. He is so sneaky and elusive that the suspect back line for the Flyers can’t do much about him, especially with Nash on the ice to worry about. Still not a fan of giving up the first round picks when Slats kinda had Yzerman dead to rights in negotiations, but I think St. Louis will be a huge factor in any success the Rangers have this postseason.
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Things didn’t go so well for Martin St. Louis in his first 19 regular season games with the Rangers, but the trade for him on March 5th was never about the 82 games between October and April.
The deal was made because A) New York wasn’t going to re-sign Ryan Callahan and wanted max value in return, and B) St. Louis is of capable of carrying the Rangers much deeper into the postseason than Callahan is at this stage.
So sure, one goal in 19 games was a disappointment, and eight total points was pretty unimpressive. But everyone goes through a slump, and St. Louis clearly had a major adjustment to make upon arriving in the Big Apple.
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Rangers forward Martin St. Louis has been named a finalist for the Lady Byng trophy. The trophy is awarded to the player who player “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”
St. Louis has been a finalist eight times in the last ten years, and has won the award three times in the last four. The last Ranger to win the award was Wayne Gretzky in 1999.
The signs were there at the end of the regular season as Martin St. Louis began to look like the player the Rangers hoped they had acquired. It continued on Thursday night. St. Louis, while not registering a shot, was engaged, around the puck and around the net all night long and came up with two huge assists as the Rangers put down the Flyers 4-1.
Brad Richards may have played his best ever game for the Rangers Thursday night. The veteran center had a huge powerplay goal, two crucial assists, playing an energetic game while being physically and defensively committed all night long. He was there when it mattered.
Then there’s Rick Nash. Nash looked to test Ray Emery at every opportunity (given he was shaky to begin, it was the right thing to do) and as the game developed Nash looked to go to the net with more frequency and could have scored as he cut to the net from the left. Nash also got an assist, as reward for his consistent performance on the night. If Nash drives to the net with more regularity the Rangers will be that much more dangerous.
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Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images
In the comments section of yesterday’s goal breakdown, BSB regular SalMerc made a comment about how Martin St. Louis’ presence on the ice seemed to be opening up space for others. I thought that was a solid idea for a post, since he isn’t scoring. We’ve looked past snake bitten players in the past (see: Dubinsky, Brandon) when they are doing other things to assist their teammates, so this seemed to be another case of that. If player’s that just can’t seem to score are doing the right things on the ice, then the ship will eventually right itself and the player will begin scoring again. At least, that’s the theory.
Looking at the Rangers team page on Extra Skater, the first thing to notice is that in his 14 games since the trade, MSL is facing the toughest competition on the team (tied with Nash at 29.9% ToTm% QoC). This helps us conclude that SalMerc’s observation is an accurate one: His on-ice presence is affecting how the opposition matches up against him. He is drawing the top defensive assignments, which opens up the ice for his teammates. It’s a small sample size, so we need to take this with a grain of salt, but since it is MSL, we can assume these matchups will continue.
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Gerry Thomas/Getty Images
The Rangers saw their five game winning streak snapped in addition to having their lead on the Flyers for 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division trimmed in a bitterly disappointing loss to the Flames in Calgary tonight, 4-3. This one saw Martin St. Louis kick in his would-be first Rangers goal, Henrik Lundqvist surrender a super soft game winner, and Kari Ramo make some huge saves before all was said and done. It wasn’t all bad for the Blueshirts, however. They created tons of chances, and the 4th line again looked fantastic. It’s just tough to swallow a loss against a team like the Flames. Onto the goals…
Rangers 0, Flames 1
After some nice work on the forecheck, Derek Dorsett pursued the puck into the zone and took and ill advised penalty behind the play. As the penalty wore down, McDonagh and Derek Stepan found themselves both collapsing as the Flames entered the zone. This gave Curtis Glencross the space to drift into the high left slot and blasted a shot over Hank’s left shoulder. Although the light went on and both teams reacted as if the puck had gone in, it had actually hit the post. On the ensuing scrum in front, Joe Colborne banged in a rebound for the early lead. Read more »