Game Wrap-ups

Complete team game in 5-1 rout of Penguins

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Rangers played a complete team game last night en route to a 5-1 thrashing of the first place Pittsburgh Penguins. Aside from the first period, when New York spend a lot of time in their own zone and the Pens had doubled-up on the Rangers in Fenwick events, the Rangers were just the better team. The Blueshirts used their speed and aggressive neutral zone forecheck (1-2-2) to force many turnovers. The biggest thing was that the Rangers capitalized off these turnovers.

That said, the Rangers still took six penalties against a dangerous Pittsburgh team. They allowed just one goal, as the penalty kill is one of the more aggressive we’ve seen of late. The PKers don’t collapse and block shots all the time, they are switching setups (diamond, box) and pressuring the puck depending on location. Aside from the penalties, the Rangers really did a great job of shutting down the best team in the East (to date).

On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Pens 0

Swivel head Malkin.
Swivel head Malkin.

Evgeni Malkin simply didn’t track Ryan McDonagh behind him as McD was able to find open ice in the slot. Brian Boyle’s strong play on the puck behind the net to break free of Olli Maata was a play that Boyle is so good at. Many rip on Boyle for lack of “toughness” but toughness isn’t fighting. It is using size to gain strong position along the boards and outworking your opponent. Boyle was able to get past Maata and get a backhand pass to McDonagh, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury shot side.

Rangers 2, Pens 0

Swivel head fail again.
Swivel head fail again.

Mats Zuccarello forced Dustin Jeffrey into a turnover along the near side boards to start the play. Both defensemen turned and went for the puck on Zucc’s stick instead of looking around to see Derek Stepan streaking in behind them. Zucc placed a perfect floater where only Stepan could get it. Stepan beat Matt Niskanen to the puck and quickly shot it past Fleury for the 2-0 lead.

Rangers 3, Pens 0

Pittsburgh backchecking fail
Pittsburgh backchecking fail

Anton Stralman forced another Jeffrey turnover in the defensive zone, springing the Rangers for an offensive chance after a fortuitous bounce off the lineman. Brad Richards picked up the loose puck after it hit the lineman for a 3-on-2 rush. Boyle, who set up the first goal, came streaking in from the DZ after the turnover, beating a “backchecking” Jeffrey to the high slot. Boyle beat Fleury short side.

Penguins 1, Rangers 3

Thanks, NBCSN, for drawing arrows for me.
Thanks, NBCSN, for drawing arrows for me.

Malkin received pick on the powerplay down low, and just threw the puck in front off Henrik Lundqvist. All four New York penalty killers collapsed on the puck in an attempt to clear, but were unsuccessful. Kris Letang came down from the weak side and poked home the loose puck.

Rangers 4, Pens 1


Richards and John Moore combined to force a turnover at the blue line, where Richards was able to get the puck to Carl Hagelin to gain the offensive zone. While Hagelin maintained possession across the blue line, Richards and Ryan Callahan cut to the middle to get in front of the Hagelin wrist shot from the point. Both players deflected the shot, and it beat Fleury glove side. It’s amazing that this developed from a 3-on-5 rush in the zone. Somehow a pair of Rangers were wide open in front of the net.

Rangers 5, Pens 1

Another swivel head fail.
Another swivel head fail.

Maata turned the puck over (again) to Derick Brassard in the offensive zone, where the Rangers worked the puck along the far side boards and eventually to the near side face off circle. Derek Dorsett fired a backhand to the slot, where the puck ricocheted off Robert Bortuzzo’s skates to Brassard –who was creeping in behind the defense– who banged it home.

Fenwick Chart (Courtesy of ExtraSkater):

Puck possession win.
Puck possession win.

The Rangers were being outplayed in the first period by a wide margin (almost 2-to-1 shot attempt advantage for Pittsburgh). After the pair of goals for New York, the possession game started swinging heavily in the Rangers’ favor, and eventually wound up with a significant advantage at the end of the game. Being dominated in the first ten minutes appears to be a common trend for this club, let’s hope it doesn’t bite them.

This win puts the Rangers at 7-8 with wins in four of five and five of seven. This is a team that was dead last –I don’t count the FLOLyers after coming home from their road trip at 3-6. They are 4-2 since that trip, beating teams they should be beating. The goal for this two game stretch against Pittsburgh and Anaheim was to play well and come out with  at least two points. They accomplished both. Now it’s on to Columbus tonight for a game against a Blue Jackets squad that has lost four in a row.

"Complete team game in 5-1 rout of Penguins", 5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
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  1. Nice breakdown, Dave. Very much enjoyed this part, “Brian Boyle’s strong play on the puck behind the net to break free of Olli Maata was a play that Boyle is so good at. Many rip on Boyle for lack of “toughness” but toughness isn’t fighting. It is using size to gain strong position along the boards and outworking your opponent.”

    On another note, that’s some serious screenage you’re working with. I assume the pic from the Pen’s goal was taken from your living room. Way to get it done.

    1. Bah, forgot to edit the picture.

      Yea, that’s my TV (thanks). The goal breakdown pictures are just pictures of my TV paused at the right moment.

  2. Boyle had an amazing game last night. He was clearly the king of face-offs. Glad he was able to get the goal. The Rangers confidence should be sky high after last night’s game. Hope there isn’t a let down tonight.

  3. There is nothing more satisfiying than beating Cindy, Igor, and the trash from Pittsburgh!

    Now boys, go home to your mole faced, mullet wearing, beached whales from the steel city, they love you. No one else gives a damn about you clown!

  4. I feel this is a game the Rangers have to maintain the puck and play smart. They played last night. Columbus played Ottawa on Tuesday and lost 4-1. They’ll be up for this game. This is a big test as there will be more back to backs this year and you don’t always win the first one. The NYR should be on cloud 9 after whipping the Pens.

      1. Do you think this streak has made Sather hang up the phone? So many rumors and many said NYR were among the most aggressive.

        1. If Slats had someone in mind, he will continue to pursue that player. Last night’s game changes nothing!

  5. To keep things in perspective, if the Rangers play this way consistently and the other team does not play up to their potential, then we have a team.

    Other than the first 10 minutes of the game, the Rangers frustrated the Pens, especially Cindy. Too bad that Kreider didn’t beat him to a pulp. If someone was grabbing my jersey after hitting me after the whistle, they would end up being buried in a shallow grave somewhere in Jersey.

    Frankenstein didn’t show up either and Marc Andre Fivehole was not on top of his game.

    Momentum to play Rangers West tonight.

    The sad thing is that if this team does does seem to have a skillset to play this way, but at times does not have the mindset to execute it properly.

    1. The Pens played a poor game, that we know. They had way too many turnovers and defensive miscues.

      That said, Bylsma said they had a problem dealing with the speed of the Rangers. Speed is what causes turnovers and miscues.

    2. The execution part will continue to improve as AV & the staff get to work with the players. The effort has to be there for them to win games while learning on the fly. Which for 50 mins a game it has been. Then hopefully Nash comes back and can give someone even more time & space. Now it’s about manning the fort until then.

    3. Agree with the first half of the post. I even laughed at the remark about Igor, but all teams can’t be driven for every game, so don’t be too hard on the mindset aspect!

  6. ~I’m not that concerned about the number of penalties last night. Playing against the Penguins, you’re going to take penalties. Refs don’t let much go against them and it’s hard to restrain yourself when facing off against one of the League’s dirtiest, sneakiest teams. I’m just impressed with the PK and Lundqvist for not letting those penalties become a factor.

    ~Brian Boyle is a beast. I’m really tired of hearing everyone ridicule him. I guess his 20+ goal year with the Rangers gave the fanbase unreasonable expectations about what he’s supposed to do. He’s been great on faceoffs and on the PK, he blocks shots, he forechecks well and he it all paid off for him last night with 2 points. I honestly think he’s been one of the most consistent forwards all season thus far.

    ~Kreider is making a name for himself in the League. He had a target on his back all night, getting hacked and slashed endlessly. Leave it to Pittsburgh to come up with a game plan that tries to slow him down that centers on trying to hurt him.

    ~Zuke plays with such a big heart. He came right in to defend Kreider in the second from Crosby and got a target on his back after that as well. Kunitz attacked him for no reason whatsoever at the end of the 2nd. Dirty, dirty Penguins.

    ~Really glad to see all the right guys clicking offensively. If we could just get a little more out of Miller, that would be great.

    ~Awesome, statement making win!

    ~Really looking forward to tonight’s game. Dubinsky, Anisimov, Gaborik, Prospal, Tyutin, Erixson. It’ll be a friggin’ reunion!

          1. I suppose it’s fair considering we all make editorial remarks in the comments section whenever you make a typo / get a name wrong / etc.

    1. I’m glad to see a NYR fan give Boyle his due. The 20 goal season was the worst thing for him. Too many fans think he’s supposed to be a tough guy. He’s a defensive forward and he’s been a monster this year. He had an off season last year. I think it had to do with his buddy & roommate Prust leaving. Much improved this season so far.

      1. I’ve always liked Boyle. He does what he’s asked to do by the coaching staff; forget what the fanbase expects of him, he does his job.

    2. Chris

      Your post reflects my feelings 100%. It starts with the owner Mario Le Wimp, couldn’t stand that fruit from day one. Then their coach, who is a smug, dirty, classless individual.

      They got shoved out the door against Philly in the playoffs, and went out to get goons who can play, but goons just the same, to protect that worm Cindy. Then the officals protect that worm, who is a sneaky gutless SOB, and stirs the pot, then skates away to let the goon squad protect him.

      I was glad to read your post, I thought I was the only one who felt that way towards that team!!

      1. Thanks, Walt. I don’t know what it is, but I detest every single Pittsburgh player, with the possible exception of Orpik, I kind of like him.

  7. Great pass by zucc for the alley oop

    Pittsburgh is the biggest hypocrite in the league.

    They whine about dirty play but are the dirty players.

  8. Lundqvist – Great team effort but the biggest reason why the Rangers won this game was they had the better goalie. I don’t know if he’s the best in the world but I can’t think of anyone better. Yet some here insist on taking him for granted.

    Boyle – Hopefully a game like this will make his critics think twice before saying the Rangers would be better without him. Even when his play isn’t as outstanding as last night, he does the little things you need from a 4th line center. (If he’s on the 3d line we have some issues).

    Zucc – Showing that he may be a top 6 forward on a contending team after all. He just needs to play the way he has the past few games (since Kreider was called back up and/or he was scratched) on a consistent basis and I’ll change my mind.

    1. I don’t take Hank for granted at all.

      And yet, I do take serious issue with him getting an 8×8 contract.

      1. In a salary cap sport I have serious issues with giving anyone an 8x$8 contract. I’d only consider it for someone very special – a player who is arguably the best at his position, committed to the organization, a good team player, with no injury history – and if the contract is consistent with other similar players at his position. The Preds gave Rinne a 7x$7 contract. Rinne got it when he was 2 years younger but that contract was two years ago. How do the Rangers (not to mention Hank)not use that contract as the baseline? Quick got 10x$5.8 last year when he was 5 years younger than Hank. It may not be 8x$8 but I don’t see how it not in that ballpark.

        1. 1) I don’t think anyone can say with certainty that Hank is committed to the organization. He’s certainly committed to winning and preparing himself so that each and every night the boys have a chance to win. But, his comments and behavior in the past year indicate to me that he is no longer smitten by the bright lights of NY.

          2) I also don’t appreciate the tension his relationship with Torts brought to the locker room.

          3) And I fundamentally oppose an 8 year contract, even if he’s worth the $8 million per year, for a player of his age. I think a 5 year deal is all he should get. Otherwise the contract will be a a burden for the organization. If he’s truly a team-player committed to the organization, he’ll take the 5 years.

          With all that said, he’s the best goalie in the League and deserves to paid annually as such, just not over an 8 year period.

          1. Fair enough. But the evidence of a tense relationship with Torts or his lack of commitment to the organization is pretty thin and based on just a few quotes – all of which I think came after being bounced from the playoffs (when I’m pretty cranky as well!).

      2. I don’t either, I want him on the team, the team needs him. I would love to see him do the right thing and give the Rangers a Home town discount, ala Brodeur and Stevens. Having said that Pro careers are short lived, relatively, and I respect his right to take care of his family. I am not talking a big discount, just enough, he’ll make it up in marketing in the NY area, more than he could elsewhere, which is why I am extremely confident he will be here for many years to come. Let’s face it, where better than NYC? You don’t leave here when you are the “KING”! Why?? Because it is good to be the King!

  9. what a turn around from early on. good job by AV, hope they keep it going tonight against the Jackets. LGR!!!

  10. One glaring need for the team would be the lack of a true tuffguy. I’m getting concerned about teams taking runs at the younger and smaller players. Pitt was taking runs at Kreider and we cant have him go down. This needs to be addressed ASAP, can’t have our guys skating around intimidated either.

  11. Nice Job Dave. Brian Boyle is and always has been an important part of this team. I loathe the naysayers that don’t appreciate the work he does on this team because he scored a bunch of goals a couple of seasons ago and now everyone wants him to keep doing it. He is good in so many aspects, I love to watch him play, and last night he was on fire!
    Side note: This team, now that it is getting the systems of AV, is so much fun to watch. They relentlessly pursue the puck, shoot at the net, and get in front for redirects, and also carry across the zones. The previous regime just played too much behind the net and dumped in constantly, it was no fun to watch. The chances were few and far between. I’m just enjoying watching this team so much more. I know Suit will probably not agree, but it is just my opinion.

    1. The Rangers still generate a ton of their offense from behind their net, and frankly, they still have to. They still dump when needed also. It’s not one or the other, but they’ve implemented other aspects and I agree that they are a more entertaining team to watch when clicking.

  12. Hank kept us in early,Boyle played his strongest game to date,Mats Zuccarello can play on my team any day and Kreider will be a star in this NHL.Solid all around game.

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