Game Wrap-upsPlayoffs

In Henrik we trust: Rangers complete the comeback, headed to Conference Finals


Henrik Lundqvist made history last night, becoming the first goalie in NHL history to win five straight Game Sevens, as the Rangers completed their comeback and eliminated the #2 seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2-1 victory was highlighted by Lundqvist and his 35 saves, almost single-handedly willing the Rangers to their first playoff series victory over Sidney Crosby. After appearing to be dead and gone after Game Four, the Rangers played the way we expected them to, and came roaring back to take the series.

Brad Richards scored the eventual game winner on the powerplay, and Brian Boyle –who must have read my appreciation post— opened the scoring just 5:25 into the game. Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh were stellar, as Chris said they would need to be, completely shutting down the top line of Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz. While the big guns showed up, the Rangers were simply too deep for the Penguins once they got going. On paper the Pens had the top-end skill, but the Rangers had the goaltending, defense, and depth. Depth won out.

On to the goals:

Rangers 1, Pens 0


Matt Niskanen’s dump into the zone at the blue line was blocked by Boyle and picked up by Derek Dorsett. Dorsett gained the zone and hit Boyle in the high slot, who made a nice touch pass to Dominic Moore before cutting to the net. Moore hit Boyle, who slid it through Marc-Andre Fleury’s legs for the early lead. Niskanen’s inability to get the puck deep caused the goal, but insult was added to injury when Dorsett was able to slip the initial pass to Boyle here for the pseudo 3-on-1 break.

Pens 1, Rangers 1


Hank turned the puck over to Malkin when he went to handle the puck, who got it to James Neal behind the net. As the Pens worked the puck to Olli Maata at the point, Jussi Jokinen was knocked down in front by Dan Giardi. Problem here was that no one picked up Jokinen once he got up. Hank made the save on Maata, but Jokinen roofed the rebound.

Rangers 2, Pens 1


It’s fitting that the powerplay that put the Rangers on the brink is the one that won the series. It’s even more fitting that it was a blown shorthanded chance by the Pens –when Brandon Sutter’s pass to Brian Gibbons didn’t connect– that gave the Rangers their chance. After the failed connection, the Rangers broke out, as McDonagh gained the zone before hitting Derek Stepan with a cross-ice pass with lots of room. Stepan passed up the shot, electing to make the pass to Martin St. Louis (a poor idea when you think about it). The pass was blocked, but MSL made a blind backhand pass on the loose puck to the high slot, where Brad Richards picked it up and beat MAF.

Fenwick Chart

Courtesy of ExtraSkater
Courtesy of ExtraSkater

The Pens really had control of this game right after Boyle’s goal, but Hank was the difference maker. There are no score effects in this chart, just constant chance after chance that Hank and the team defense turned aside.

This was a game where goaltending was the difference. Fleury played a good game, but he simply could not best Henrik Lundqvist. Not many can. The Rangers willed their way to a Game Seven, but Hank simply stole this one in Pittsburgh. Up next is the winner of the Bruins/Habs series, which also went to a Game Seven. Either opponent will be tough. But for a second time in three years, the Rangers will play for the Eastern Conference crown.

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  • I was called delusional and a stupid fan on a certain other blog that I don’t usually comment on due to the general Hockey IQ of the commenters (coughsnyrangerscough) for not calling for Sather’s head last Thursday, (in my opinion he’s built a deep team and if guys don’t execute that have always executed, what was he supposed to do other than channel 1984 Gretzky and Messier) and for telling people that if the Rangers corrected their passing mistakes they could still win a game or two in the series. I was wrong. THEY WON THREE!

    I Had no idea what to do with myself last night. Part of me had resigned that it was Baseball season. I wasn’t ok with it, but I was accepting of it. It was kind of like when your childhood pet dies lol. Not sure that I am dying to face Boston or Montreal, but the boys will be ready!

    Now as far as last night’s game:

    The King was THE KING. He earned his paycheck and then some. Penguins fans were saying that Crosby needs to be dealt on chat boards last night and that he played like crap. Say what you want about him, but I thought Crosby played very well, he just didn’t finish because every ranger collapsed around him and even then, Lundqvist was waiting for him.

    Brian Boyle has had a great playoffs as we on these sites know. He continued it last night.

    Brad Richards: I actually thought his passing was terrible last night and he gave the puck away much too many times and didn’t have the crispness to his game that he needs to have at this stage of his career. Oh, he did score a pretty big goal though :D.

    The Pens tried to stack 3 men at the red line or blue line all series. We’re not Columbus, when our passing is on our legs get going, and when our legs get going no team in the league can keep up with us.

    I think this was a game that the Rangers could have been up by more than one goal a few times (Pouliot post, St. Louis missed opportunity on a 2on1), but the Pens controlled the tempo in their building in a game 7. We won’t consistently beat any of the two remaining EC teams without getting our legs going and making better passing. In the next series, goaltending will be projected to be more even than this one, but all in all a great comeback. They’ll get 2-3 days to recharge and then it’s time for an original six ECF.

    LET’S GO!


    • It’s refreshing that the Rangers actually finish a series before the team they will face next. The 3 days of rest before game 1 is huge.

  • So what’s next for the Rangers if they get a 1-0 lead? Is AV gonna have them stand 3 players BEHIND Lundquist to form a human wall like in soccer and have two forwards stand at their own blue line and try to poke check the puck out of the zone?

    I’ve never been so embarrassed to be a Ranger fan. 38 minutes of penalty kill ain’t hockey.

    • Congrats, if you aren’t proud of this comeback, you probably aren’t much of a fan! Look at the embarrassment you have just been saved!

      There always has to be one.

      • I have to agree on one thing, I hate the prevent defense that we played. More times than not, all it does is prevent you from winning. That is the only thing I agree with Snake on!!

        Hank stood tall, gave us the chance to win, and we did. End of discussion, we advance!!!!!!!!!

      • The Rangers played about 22 minutes of hockey. 20 in the 1st period and 2 minutes on the PP in the 2nd AFTER their prevent defense (LOL) FAILED! Sorry, but I bleed Ranger blue and have since the 60s. I also love the game of hockey. The Rangers were the better HOCKEY team. They showed it in Game 5 when they played 60 minutes of HOCKEY. Large chunks of games 6 and 7 they weren’t playing hockey. As soon as they got the lead AV had them wave the white flag and pray for Henrik to save them. Thank God he did.

        AV is a wuss. He’s a sack void of nads. I’d rather they lose with honor then save their playoff lives by surrendering.

        • Surrendering. Sure. What a bunch of wusses. They didn’t play any hockey.

          I picture you, Snake, on an episode of “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong”.

          • Frankly, they clearly just surrendered after game 4 and fluked into this series win. You won me over Snake…your perceived poor 40 minutes of play in game 96 of the season also makes me very embarrassed to be a fan. I can’t believe this dishonorable team, from the coach down to the fourth line.

            I am especially embarrassed of the players and of MSL. Nothing but dishonor. I think embarrassment is the most reasonable reaction anyone could have to that game. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I can’t believe I enjoy watching them sometimes. I must reevaluate my life.

          • I’m sorry. Was I discussing the series and not the game? Was I discussing the players or the coach’s approach to how to play with a 1 goal lead after the first period? Did I say they played poorly for 40 minutes? Sorry for all the questions. I’m too lazy to read my own posts.

          • “The Rangers played about 22 minutes of hockey. ”

            “I’ve never been so embarrassed to be a Ranger fan”

            Really? Never? Not only have you never been so embarrassed, but you found NOTHING to be proud of? Nothing?

            There is some middle ground between being a total homer and blindly disparaging whenever things aren’t 100% perfect.

        • “I’d rather they lose with honor then save their playoff lives by surrendering.”

          – Huh? You know how asinine that sounds, right? Nevermind the Penguins trying to save their season by throwing the kitchen sink. No, this was the Rangers surrendering.

          You know it’s ok to enjoy a win once in awhile.

          • No. I wasn’t aware how asinine that sounded. Thanks for enlightening me on that, as well as for your insightful “Penguins trying to save their season…” commentary. I praise your demonstrated superior understanding of the game.

    • What they did worked, and if they took chances and lost on a 2 on 1 pens breakout or a breakaway you would be the on the board rippng AV for not telling his team to play safe.

      Did I like the prevent defense, no and I never will, but to be embarrashed by that game/comeback…you are the only one.

      • You are wrong. You don’t have to play 1-1-3 to prevent 2 on 1s. You certainly don’t have to do it with a 1 goal lead at the start of the 2nd period.

        If I am the only one that is embarrassed by a coach too chicken to play the other team, then so be it. I don’t need a crowd behind me to have an OPINION. I wanna see a hockey game, not 38 minutes of penalty kill.

        • It was forced prevent defense! Pens came hard with their backs against the wall. They threw every thing they had at the Rangers. I was pulling my hair out in hopes that we could push back and sustain some pressure of our own and pin them a bit but the Pens had other ideas.

          It wasn’t AV’s game plan to sit back, it was the Pens push.

          Give them some credit.

          • I completely disagree. They Rangers weren’t forced into a prevent defense early in the 2nd period. They frequently sent 1 man in and provided no pressure on the ‘Guins to get across the red line. If you don’t attempt to possess the puck and attack, then of course the other team will have the puck all the time and apply serious amounts of pressure. That wasn’t a forced situation. That was AV’s plan.

            I give the PLAYERS plenty of credit. Hank was amazing. The players played good defense on their side of the red line. AV’s gambit failed when the Penguins tied it, but thankfully the players were able to execute a 5 man penalty kill after they got the lead back.

            Even Pierre McGuire who usually has his nose deep up AV’s rump kept saying things like “The Rangers need to start playing offense” and “The Rangers are playing a dangerous game here”. It was mentioned during the 2nd period by Pierre and during the intermission. AV got lucky, but just because he got lucky doesn’t mean it was a smart coaching decision. Hank and the boys made him look smart. It was a sackless choice by a sackless coach.

          • I dunno Snake, stay strong. Don’t back down from “I have never been so embarrassed to be a Rangers fan”. Stay strong, we are in this together.

            Let’s vow not to watch another game as long as this man with no honor nor nads is coach. Otherwise we would not be men of principle and we could be considered dishonorable too!

          • Sorry if I’m not a big enough “homer” to suit your tastes. I know it isn’t common or popular here to predict anything other then the Rangers winning the Cup (see Suit’s predictions for the series) or view the Rangers in any light other then that which comes through rose colored glasses. I’m not gonna cry hysterically when they lose and blame players for not being perfect, then turn around and claim them to be slayers of dragons the next time they win.

            So whether AV makes sackless calls as a coach or the Ranger players whine like the wuss Crosby, I’m still gonna watch the games, root for the team to win and have an opinion on the game and the team after.

          • I don’t think they will win the cup, but I hope the do. And if they don’t it’s not necessarily because of fault. There are a lot of great teams out there.

            But I think there is a big difference between homer and being never having been so embarrassed after an emotional comeback. I mean, a little perspective man.

      • They did sit back, and they kept short shifts which made it hard to forecheck as they were often changing lines instead of chasing the puck.

        But for some reason it didn’t feel as much of turtleing as it has in previous years. Of course the last 2 minutes were frantic, but it felt that a lot of the possession and shots the Rangers conceded to the Penguins wasn’t as dangerous as it could have very well have been. Personally, I just wasn’t as concerned/nervous about the opportunities they were giving up.

        They very effectively closed out that Game 7 Road win.

    • I know it’s very frustrating when the Rangers come back from a 3-1 deficit against a team with some of the most skilled players in the league and don’t manage to completely dominate the game.
      The Penguins are a very good team and you don’t get more desperate than being down 1 goal in a game 7.
      Complain all you want about puck possession, but we outscored them and our defense/goaltending showed just how effective they can be.

      Nash still needs to get scoring for us to make it to the Cup, but this is still a solid, deep squad.

    • What are you watching? They won 2-1 and in a game 7 with a lead in the 3rd there’s not a coach in hockey that wouldn’t play that conservative. It’s the players job to get the puck out and they did. The Pens didn’t have any super long shifts in our zone. We kept getting it out.
      It’s also the Penguins we are talking about. They can put up 3 goals in 3 mins at anytime of the game. You don’t like it don’t watch. That’s how a game 7 is played with a lead. By any team and coach.

  • I am just so impressed with the way this team has comeback and played, that I am sure the only team that can beat the NYR are the NYR. That said, we came together after a tragedy, but lets hope that the cohesive style that has become this team’s mantra can last for 3-4 more weeks.

  • My Stanley Cup is always half empty. We looked awful. Talbot wouldn’t have given up that goal. We now have to give TB a first rounder in this year’s draft, instead of a 2d, in addition to another first next year for MSL. It’s going to be even harder to sign Boyle & Stralman but that’s ok because Boyle can’t score. For what? So we can make the ECF? We did that two years ago and what did that get us? Sather and AV have to go.

    • Holy crap! You mean I had to be even more over the top? The Talbot line wasn’t enough? “My Stanley Cup is always half empty”? Really!?

      We just made the ECF!! There are four teams left! We’re 8 wins from a freaking Cup! The only other thing worth living for are women. And even the best of them would have given up 4-5 goals last night!

      This is not an aberration. We’ve been one of the better teams in the league since January. What pissed me off about being down 3-1 to the Pens was even then I thought we had the better, deeper team. Out of nowhere we were playing like we did in December. We turned it around and deserved to win.

      I can’t think of a game where we’ve been physically beaten. I’d prefer to play Montreal but we now have the speed and depth to play with Boston as well.

      Today’s a freaking holiday people!

      • Your original post was over the top enough that it made me think Snake’s post was sarcasm also…alas.

      • We were a 3 line 2D pair last year and the Bruins rolled 4 lines and tired us out. This year our 4th can go toe to toe with theirs and maybe be better. I think the Ranger players here from last year look forward to beating Boston. We have trouble winning in Montreal so pick your poison.

        • We also have (had) problems beating the penguins in the playoffs. Thankfully past results don’t guarantee future outcomes.

  • Great comeback, spurred on by the world’s greatest goalie. Yesterday I said Boyle could score more goals & he did just what he needs to do, go to the net. Richards may not always look elegant out there but he is a winner who gets it done one way or another. Speed kills & to win the next round we need to use it or lose it.

  • Wow, there sure are a lot of Debbie downer trolls on the site today. Hey trolls… what’s it like having nothing to look forward to in life?

    I’ll help. Here’s the new NY Rangers theme song specifically for debbie downer trolls:

  • Historic comeback!! Sure the Rangers have given us all plenty of headaches (I’ve been a fan since 1972, so I’ve had my share) but the bottom line is THEY GOT IT DONE. Prevent defense makes the game torture to watch (Remember Game 7 in ’94? And back then we had MacTavish, one of the best face-off men of his time). I too wished we had given ourselves more O-zone time, but we took Crosby off his game. This may be the most together Ranger team I have ever watched and they are coming together at the right time. Will have to raise game 2-3 levels to compete with Boston or Montreal. That’s Saturday. For now, I’m enjoying the moment.

  • I doubt we would be here without the emotion that arrived via Marty’s tragedy. Very sad for him to have to deal with all of this but in a very karma sort of way it seems to have helped him get past the hurdles that he was enduring since coming from Tampa.

    I would not underestimate the impact that Kreider has had on stabilizing the line-up and bringing his speed and physicality to the ice.

    Just saw an interview with Brandon Prust – we all know he signed for stupid money, but wouldn’t he be a nice fit on this team…

    • I think what is overlooked about the MSL situation was that it was not necessarily about Marty losing his mom or the tragedy of it. It was seeing MSL coming back to be with his team while no one *in their right mind* would have thought ill of him to go be with his family and call it a day.

      I think the team saw that and galvanized around his desire to play.

    • Kreider is a beast & it’s no accident the comeback started with his return. He hurts people when he hits them & they lose a lot of steam from it. And he’s fast as hell. Stepan should do more of those lob passes in the air that Kreids skates under for the breakaway. That keeps any defense honest, especially the Bruin D who can be exploited that way, by Hags too.

  • Quick fact check on the new playoff system. Rangers are 2 seed and Canadiens are 3 seed in their conference. Canadiens have more points.

    What determines home ice in ECF?

    • Can’t say I was sure before this, but the ticket office sent me an email for the next round and said that they will be charging for 3 games since they do not have home ice.

    • Bettman announced that game one will be on Saturday. Regardless of the opponent, it will be an away game

  • Tremendous game, and hats off to Hank, as the Pens really came at us in the 3rd period. I have to say, I did not think the team would get it together after game 4, and I am really glad that I was wrong. If the Rangers can continue to play with this level of intensity, they can compete with anyone. It would be great if it came together for us at the right time.

  • Wow out came the rats

    Great team D down the stretch.

    Prevent defense came in when blysma started to keep his big horses on the ice.

    Its hard to sustain pressure on the fc when the coach is rolling his lines every 30-45 seconds

    • Excellent point, Mikeyyy. The Crosby line played over 22 minutes. No Ranger forward played more then 17 (Zucc). And that was a big part of why the Rangers had no fc. They were constantly changing lines…every 15-20 secs according to what they said on NBCSN during the game. That’s hardly enough time to wait for Pitt to cross the red line, gain possession and clear it before heading to the bench.

      I have to wonder though…could the AV’s historic failure to produce offense on the PP be the result of practicing the 5 man penalty kill instead coming up with a PP strategy that worked?

      • At the end of the day we got 3 PPGs this series. Pittsburgh only got 1.

        The powerplay turned out to hurt them more than us.

      • It did work. We won the series.

        Crosby held scoreless.

        Pitt lost so bad that strang is reporting that blysma and Crosby might get the boot for historic failures.

  • I’m having trouble comprehending the negative posts. I can understand them after game 4 but after a glorious game 7 win? I’m sure we all were yelling at the TV for more attack but it’s easier said than done. Bottom line is the win! On to the Conference Finals!

    Four reasons the Rangers are here;

    -St. Louis’s mom

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