Game 2 musings: Defensive adjustments, Kreider, matchups

Gene J. Puskar — AP Photo
Gene J. Puskar — AP Photo

The Rangers took Game One on Friday night in dramatic fashion, scoring twice in overtime for the 3-2 win. With Game Two coming tonight, the first of a back-to-back and the fourth of a four-in-five for the Rangers, that Game One victory was critical. The only way the Rangers stood a chance in this series was to –at the very least– get the split in Pittsburgh. Naturally, winning tonight and coming home with a 2-0 would be ideal. But the Penguins won’t play the same type of game they played on Friday night.

There were too many thoughts I had following Game One, so it only made sense to do a brain dump in a musings format.

  • The Rangers scored two goals because the Penguins didn’t cover the slot. The Brad Richards goal was the direct result of Matt Niskanen coming over to help Olli Maata instead of sticking Richards in the slot. The overtime winner came from Sidney Crosby deserting the slot to get to Benoit Pouliot, who intercepted Rob Scuderi’s pass behind the net. Regardless, the Penguins won’t make those mistakes again.

  • If the Pens continue to make those mistakes, and they continue to fall victim to the forecheck of the Rangers, this will be a short series. This isn’t the 2011-2012 team that forechecked hard, but couldn’t bury golden chances. This team has that forecheck and the skill to bury the opportunities.
  • As for the Rangers, they were victimized twice by the Pens hitting the trailer at the blue line. That should look familiar, as the Rangers used to generate offense like that under John Tortorella. However, the Rangers need to adjust and find a way to prevent that pass. A few simple defensive adjustments, such as ensuring each forward sticks their man in the defensive zone, and the Rangers may find themselves forcing the Penguins into turnovers in a high risk area. Break up the pass to the trailer, and it leads to odd-man rushes.
  • Long story short: The coaches that make these adjustments first will find themselves with an advantage tonight.
  • As for Chris Kreider: It’s amazing how his absence has created a hole in the lineup. We wouldn’t be having this juggling of Jesper Fast, Dan Carcillo, and J.T. Miller if Kreider were healthy. They’ve survived, and Alain Vigneault has made some shrewd coaching moves to get the most out of his subs. But it was Carcillo who missed his assignment on James Neal that led to the tying goal on Friday. They’ve survived, but how long will that magic last?
  • On the defensive end: We saw how Dan Bylsma wants to match his forwards up against the Rangers. He had Crosby out there against the Marc Staal/Anton Stralman pairing. He had Evgeni Malkin out there against the Ryan McDonagh/Dan Girardi pairing (per Shift Chart) at even strength. As for John Moore/Kevin Klein, they got the Brandon Sutter line. I wonder how long until Bylsma tries to get Crosby or Malkin out there against Moore/Klein.

That’s what I saw in Game One, and I don’t expect it to remain the same in Game Two. This is a big game for both teams. Could you imagine the frenzy that will be MSG if the Rangers come back with a 2-0 lead?

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  • Nice job Dave!!

    Now let’s do the right things, win today, go home up 2-0, and see what happends. The Pens are a very dangerious team, so if we get them dowm, we have to go for the kill, no letting up.

    You are right, the second game will look nothing like the first!!

  • The best way to keep the Pen’s offense from exploding is to keep them pinned in their own zone as much as possible. As long as the rangers board work is good, and their passes are short and accurate in all three zones, we should be able to control the tempo enough to have a good shot tonight.

    I agree 15000% that the Pens will come with different looks tonight then they did in game one. One of these days we’ve got to win a game with a series lead though right? If the Rangers can play their style of game, like you’re saying Dave, we’ve potentially got 4 lines that can bury the puck.

    “When Brian Boyle is on the 4th line we’ll be a cup contender.” Well… he’s not even the 4th line center these days. I think that makes us a cup contender.

  • John Moore only played about eleven minutes 5 on 5 last game. If Bylsma tries to match Crosby with him, he’ll have to cut his ice time and he surely doesn’t want to.

  • Rangers need to get Nash/St Louis off the power play. That overpaid 2some has not scored a goal on the power play in 27 straight games…period, end of that story.

    Hagelin has had 17 even strength goals, 5 winning goals for Rangers this past season. He is 2nd on Rangers in even strength goals and game winning goals, plus he has a short handed goal, and never plays the power play.

    Kreider has had no game winning goals, no short handed goals, and lives on the power play.

    Pouliot may take a lot of PM, but Kreider has MORE PM, and in less games played than Kreider.

    • Kreider hits… i can live with some penalty minutes if a guy is aggressive. Messier took a ton of penalties.

  • Hagelin has 40 even strength goals, one power play goal since joining Rangers.

    How much worse can Hagelin be than either Nash or St Louis who have ZERO power play goals over the last 27 gms.

    Can anyone see St Louis playing 4th line LW next season to Kreider, Pouliot, Hagelin?

    • Nash is disappointing so far. I know that he has some assists but irrespective of what the announcers are saying it does not look like he is playing playoff hockey. He is not hard on the puck. Guys are changing their games and playing a bit harder..but he seems to be cruising. Now if we would pop in a few goals on the PP then all is forgiven..but if nothing else he must be harder in the corners.

  • St Louis is 39 yrs old next month.

    If Rangers lose to Pitts, Rangers give up a #1 next season, a #2 this season, besides losing Callahan.

    If St Louis continues to do nothing, but Rangers get buy Pitts, Rangers lose Callahan, and both this year and next year’s #1 picks.

    That Sather trade is looking uglier and uglier.

    • It’s true! I’m going to be SO ticked off if we make the Stanley Cup Finals with MSL as one of our leading scorers. Damn you Sather! Damn you!!

      Btw, with Staal playing so well, you’re starting to run out of people to bitch about, eh?

      • Give the devil his due-Staal has played well in the playoffs.

        St Louis, Nash, & Dorsett should be looking for another job. St Louis & Nash now 28 consecutive gms without a power play goal.

        How many games without a power play goal before somebody besides me says St Louis & Nash have to go?

        How many more tupid PM before Dorsett goes?

        Hard to believe anybody thinks Dorsett is better than Fast.

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