Game Wrap-upsPlayoffs

Kevin Hayes gives Rangers 3-1 series lead with overtime winner

Kevin Hayes scored his first postseason goal last night, and boy was it a big one. The rookie parked himself in front of the net and got a loose puck over a prone Marc-Andre Fleury, giving the Rangers a 3-1 series lead. The Rangers absolutely stole this game, as their first period was so bad that all of Rangers Twitter was in shock. No one thought they could be that bad for a period, but they were, and they were lucky to come out of that only down a goal. They had zero scoring chances in the first. Zero.

That luck continued, as a few fortuitous bounces in front led to Derick Brassard’s tying goal, as the Rangers started to slowly play their game. The game itself was relatively low-event, meaning few shot attempts for both clubs. But you guys know playoff hockey, every single puck movement is cause for hearts skipping beats. I woke my neighbors when Hayes scored. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

On to the goals:

Pens 1, Rangers 0

patric hornqvist
Courtesy of

This is what happens with a lot of traffic in front of the net. Patric Hornqvist was able to deflect the Ben Lovejoy shot from the point with a billion bodies in front. However, this started when Kevin Hayes put a 3-on-2 pass into Keith Yandle’s skates. That is a potential two-goal swing right off the bat.

Rangers 1, Pens 1

derick brassard
Courtesy of

The Rangers had been playing pretty poorly up until this point, but they got one by sticking to Hockey 101. Ryan McDonagh gained the zone and took it deep, dropping the puck for Rick Nash in the corner. Nash threw the puck at the front of the net, where Derick Brassard was allowed to take a few whacks at it with Fleury in a prone position.

Rangers 2, Pens 1

kevin hayes
Courtesy of

Kevin Hayes parks himself in front during a mad scramble, and puts it over Fleury.

Fenwick/USAT Chart:

rangers penguins playoffs 2015
First period was rough, even thereafter.

All things considered, there wasn’t much going on this game. The teams combined for less than 100 shot attempts combined through 3+ periods, with most of it coming in the third period. The Rangers really flatlined in the first, but got their collective acts together and then skated evenly with the Pens for the rest of the game.

Scoring Chances:

rangers penguins playoffs 2015
Pens got much better chances throughout.

This chart is kind of funny. The Rangers didn’t register a quality chance until the second period. That first 20 minutes was some of the worst hockey I’ve ever seen. This is the first time I’ve seen a chart that had zero scoring chances for an entire period.

Individual Corsi/SAT:

rangers penguins playoffs 2015
Above the center line is good, below is bad.

Based on matchups, this is basically what you expect from the lineup on any given night.

Shot Locations:

rangers penguins playoffs 2015
Not your normal Rangers shot location chart

I really don’t know how to read into this shot location chart. It’s nice to see the two G’s for the Rangers came from in front, showing they can do more than score off the rush. But that’s a lot of attempts by the Pens in dangerous areas.

Shift Chart:

rangers penguins playoffs 2015

Alain Vigneault didn’t have last change, but he did a good job trying to get Girardi/McDonagh out against Crosby. The Malkin line got Staal, which also isn’t surprising.

The series shifts back to New York for Game Five on Friday at 7pm. The Rangers have a chance to close it out, go for the kill.

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  • Yeah Dave I think I woke my neighbors upstairs too when Hayes scored. Hayes was Johnny-on-the-spot, and thank God for Dan Girardi as well. Put the hammer down on Friday night; no more trips to Pittsburgh until next winter.


    • I read in game 3 which was of course in Pittsburgh, Pens coach Johnston with last change got Crosby out for 4 shifts against the Rangers bottom Defense pair of Hunwick/Yandle and one more after an icing.
      Don’t know what the matchups look like for game 4 but that’s bad coaching. Even if you’re so sure your top line can score on anyone, why not take advantage of last change? I’d like to look and see what he did in game 4. AV must have been chomping at the bit most of his Dzone draws for quick counters. I give Johnston 10 games next season before he’s replaced. The Pens are slightly more diceplined but they still play like they’re entitled to the cup each fall.
      This lineup is IMO the best they’ve had since 09′ but if you don’t use it right what’s the point? They need another
      Shutdown defenseman, Not Letang.

  • Tough to get scoring chances when two out of 3 forwards are interfered with on every rush and the whistle was swallowed.

    • That’s a good thing IMO. It kept the Rangers off the Power Play, so at least there was a chance they would score. Scott Arniel Head Soup anyone? Opps…sorry. That’s off the menu along with the Tanner Glass Photos of AV Soufflé.

  • I jumped out of the bed so fast I forgot I had Jobu sitting on my chest, he smashed into the ceiling then crashed back down to the floor.


    Nice way for a future star to get his first POG!

    I have to buy Jobu some extra rum today to keep him happy.

  • If anyone watched the post game. I’d have to disagree with Vali, as I don’t think we we’re uptight and squeezing the sticks too tight, but rather, we were too relaxed and complacent.

    Anyway, although we didn’t look to good in this game, especially in the first period. They looked like the better team on both sides of the Ice from the blue line to the goal. However I wasn’t all too worried, because, I believe from what I saw, we controlled the neutral zone in all 3 periods.

    PS…..If anyone ever says anything negative about Danny G again, I’m going to send them a video on last night’s game lol! The Warrior made several insane defensive plays that just absolutely wowed me last night…..One more win to put these cry babys to sleep boys n girls! LGR!!!

    • You mean it was as if the Rangers were calmly chewing gum with a big smirk on their face politely dismissing Pittsburgh’s attempts at winning the game? Don’t know where they’d get that from. 😀

      I’d be with ya on the Girardi thing, but I’m afraid to stand up to anyone. I only support people I agree with between the whistles.

        • Dave, keep being a realist. Girardi makes just as many dumb plays as the good ones,that a certain color man likes to emphasize.. Yes, hes a warrior, and will do anything to win. But some of his decisions in his own end can be astounding. Hes perfected the art of the snow-angel; for better or worse.

          • He’s made of robot parts, and you know what you’re getting when he’s on the ice. I personally think he’s better suited as a 2nd pairing than a top pairing.

            Good lord do I hate that snow angel.

          • I agree. But hes such a minutes-eater, hes earned that first-pairing spot. Even with all his short-comings, I do admire the guy for his grit. I would really enjoy seeing him get a chance to raise the Cup.

          • I’d rather have someone else who is better with the puck and just as good defensively eat those minutes. Just because someone eats minutes doesn’t mean there aren’t better options.

      • Totally agreed with him on that too, and you, and I’m in the minority here generally speaking. I believe we’re a club that needs to move the puck a lot in the o zone, and usually do not mind that we don’t shoot the puck. However, with that being said, I absolutely think that we have not shot the puck enough this series. Pretty much have watched almost every NHL playoff game this year, and it’s amazing how many goals are being scored off of rebounds, bodies, gloves, sticks etc etc.

  • The PP is still horrible – completely missing in action. This is not acceptable. As badly as they played in the first period (no scoring chances 5 on 5) they had opportunities to get healthy by scoring with the man advantage but only continued to embarrass themselves in that situation. This is playing with fire. They lost Game 2 for the same reason so there’s no guarantee that they will always be able to somehow escape these putrid games as they did last night. They’re barely getting away with this act against Pittsburgh who is shorthanded, has one of their two best players in a funk due to injuries and barely qualified for the playoffs. Against the better teams this is an accident waiting to happen.

    Arguments about teams with bad PPs winning the Cup are irrelevant. Its not about the percentage its about being able to score timely goals with the man advantage.

    Arguments about how the PP is less important in the playoffs are irrelevant. The Rangers have received plenty of PP opportunities in this series (despite the obvious whistle swallowing) – way more than enough to pad their leads (Games 1 and 2) or get back in the game (Games 2 and 4).

    • My friend, I’d hate to read your posts if the Rangers were losing these games. Just relax. Regards- orange

      • This is exactly the same whistling past the graveyard attitude that I find to be silly and, if the Rangers and their coaching staff have this same attitude – dangerous.

        Yes, they are winning against a team with lots of problems and they have not played well for the most part. Outside of Game 3 they have been mostly outplayed or played to a draw by the Penguins who have been in a funk for most of the past two months and barely qualified for the post-season.

        The playoffs are more than just this series, which the Rangers will almost certainly win. The bar gets set higher in every round and its not out of order to try to identify deficiencies that should be corrected.

      • That’s a big if. Can’t deny it’s looked pretty bad. But…this is the same discussion we have every year. Rangers just don’t have a good PP and haven’t in quite a while.

        • It’s not a good PP, we know this. It’s not preventing them from winning, and it seems that people expect them to score on every PP.

          • I never said that I expect them to score on every PP. And while the bad PP may not be “preventing them from winning” that needs to be qualified by saying that it only pertains to this round against an opponent that is struggling and not nearly as formidable as later round opponents will be.

      • As I said in my original post its not about the percentage. Its about the PP being a threat and actually being able to deliver key goals when they can make a difference in the game. Right now the PP is a momentum killer that does little except take 2 minutes off the clock (isn’t that what a PK is supposed to do?). If they were just being stymied by a hot goalie that would be one thing. I really hate to agree with Pierre McGuire but he’s absolutely right that the Rangers’ PP is too slow, too stationery and too predictable. There’s no excuse for this and AV and his staff need to fix it.

  • Hayes, what can we say about the kid??

    The game was a squeaker, tough defensive game, and as stated by Alec, the Pens were clutching, and grabbing. This is the very thing that their owner, Mario Le Wimp always cried about when played, but it’s OK for his boys. Let’s just knock the snot out of them at home, and send these cry babies home or a diaper change.

    On another note, I’m so sick, and tired of McGuire, and the rest of the NBC sports announcer with their Cindy the great bull shit.. Enough already, please!!!!

    • Turn it into a game like my friends and I do. Every time Pierre says something, respond with “Thank you, Captain Obvious!” It really makes things less painful.

      I heard Rosen’s voice of Hayes goal during a video on Blue Shirts United and I nearly wept. After all the Pierre punishment, I’d nearly forgotten what it was like to enjoy a Ranger game with the sound on.

    • Well said Walt! Funny thing is, even back then when he was playing, his own team was notorious for clutching and grabbing, and yet he would have the nerve to bitch about it….Amazing how much of a hypocrite Mario is! You better believe that Cryby learned a lot of the sob ritual from his hypocrite mentor.

      One other thing about last night’s game that put the icing on the cake was Maxipads face when he was sprawled out in the crease, like a beached whale as Hayes´s winning goal floated over his ugly face lol!

      • LOL! I *DID* see Maxipad’s face! I noticed it on one of the replays. I really wished Brass or Step were out there to help him up. That would have been classic.

        • Hahaha. Can you imagine how funny that would have been lol? Or if one of them went up to him and gave him a fist bump and say thanks lol.

  • Watched the game. Think we came out flat, but decided to play in the second. I am the only one who thinks that Nash’s game doesn’t work in the playoffs? He doesn’t pass anyone as he skates down ice and takes 20′ slapshots that hit the goalie in the chest. He needs to play physical against the boards and make the guys on his line better. Brassard on the other hand, gets gritty and tough come playoff time.

    Kreider played a nice physical game. What can you say about the defense that hasn’t been already said. Nice win, but don’t think Pitt is going to lay down and die at MSG.

    • I don’t know about Nash’s game not working in the playoffs. He has roughly 8% of the team’s goals. He draws the toughest matchups. The other team is keying on him. He didn’t eat his Wheaties. Larry Brooks hates him. His shoelaces are too loose.


      I think Nash is fine. The Penguins are just smothering the Rangers. They’ve taken away their time and space with the clutch and grab. Give the ‘Guins some credit. They are an inferior team fighting for their jobs.

      I can’t wait to see Pittsburgh go though. I’d love to see a hockey game again…and preferably one without Pierre McGuire as the color man.


    • Let’s take another look at Brass’ contract, the way he plays in the PO’s. he is signed dirt cheap…. Let’s see if Step can earn his stripes this PO, so that he has something to fight with when he negotiates his contract, right now he hasn’t done too much to boast about !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sal, did you ever consider that Brassard can get gritty because his linemate Nash is drawing the other team’s attention?

        • Fair point. I didn’t mean to come off so condescending. I just meant that Nash might not be scoring goals, but he is certainly contributing. 4 points in 4 games (granted his one goal was in garbage time), he’s playing great D, he’s throwing the body around, and he continues to be one of the better PK’ers on the team.

          If the Rangers can get by the Penguins and their late-90s puck-killing style of hockey, I have a feeling Nash’s goal scoring will skyrocket

  • The pens are playing a 1-4 neutral zone trap…it’s NJ Devils 1995 all over again. Let’s get a breakdown on that in the next blog post

    • I was thinking the same thing…especially during last night’s game. I said to myself, “Geez! I wish I knew as much as Dave or The Suit and could actually breakdown what the Penguins are doing here to stop the Rangers. Sure…clutch, grab, slow down….but they must be employing a system along with it to make it work. All I could think of was the Devil’s neutral zone trap in the 90s, but I don’t even know what to look for to tell me that.

      • Those Devil teams played like that EVERY game, and then when you finally were able to get into their zone, they had a squad of D-men that we’re some of the best the game has ever seen. Then if you we’re finally able to get the puck around their D-Men too, “Fatso” would constantly come out of his crease, behind the net anywhere from 5 to 25 feet (no goalie lines back then) and whip the puck out……Seriously, on average, them Devil team’s faced roughly 1,2 maybe 3 true quality chances against their goalie in a given regular season game in those years. This is a major reason why I always argue with people anywhere, including many of our fans that “Fatso” is or shall I say now, was, one of the most overrated goalies in history. I’m NOT saying he wasn’t good. I believe he was an excellent goalie, no doubt, especially in the later years, because he still excelled with the rule changes, but I will go to my grave believing that many of his stats were due to the fact that he was a product of his environment.

        • Spot on about Fatso. I also have argued on many occasions that I could have been a HOF goalie if I had Stevens, and the rest of at great defense in front of me my entire career. Once Stevens retired, and Neidermeir went west, well the doughboy became an average goalie!!!!!!!!

      • Oh one other thing that I forgot to tell you Snake is that, it’s much, much easier to see team formations, systems, traps etc etc. Is when you’re at the game rather then at home. This is something that I miss dearly, because I just can’t afford to goto the games as much nowadays. Sucks big time for me, because I used to have season tickets. However, the new TV´s with the widescreens are a big advantage now in comparison to the past, but being there def helps to see those things.

      • It’s not that complicated. The Pens are sitting back and sacrificing offense to make sure there are always four Pens on the redline making sure the Rangers’ wingers don’t have any open ice to exploit. It’s killing the game and it’s why there is a limited number of total scoring chances each game.

        What I noticed last night is that once the Pens stopped taking penalties and had to try and play like that for 10 to 15 minutes stretches, they couldn’t do it. They lost their discipline and gaps started to open up for the Rangers. That’s how McD got open with Nash on the left wing for that first goal.

        It’s going to take patience to beat the Pens. They are purposefully suffocating all the action because that’s the only way their depleted roster has a chance. They do the same thing on the PP. They are setting up to take away the one strength the Rangers PP has, the cross ice pass followed by a quick Stepan or MSL shot. The Pens are selling out and giving away the half boards to stack the slot. The Rangers cannot take advantage of that set up because they lack a cannon from the half boards, like an Ovechkin, or James Neal, so they can’t generate quality shots that force rebounds that Nash, Kreider, and Brassard can bang home.

  • Yep, Dan Girardi & Marc Staal have taken a lot of crap on this site but they are both gutty D who play the game right and I’d take both of them over Tampa Boy any day of the week. Hell, Boyle should get some respect too. I just hate that neutral zone crap but Pitt has to do it to be competitive but it stifles the game. Make the ice wider & the nets bigger.

  • Question for Dave – Do the advanced metrics still say the Rangers should lose? Do they say the Rangers should have lost all of these games?

    Those aren’t sarcastic questions. I honestly don’t know. I assume the #fancystats would be about equal to the #eyetest and the score.

    • Games 1 and 3 the Rangers dominated possession 5-on-5. Game 3 the Penguins held a slight edge 5-on-5 though the Rangers had something like 13 PP shots.

    • Those charts for single game attempts are an FYI, and need to be taken with a grain of salt. Winning the puck possession battle only really tips the scales to a 60/40 advantage, basically a weighted coin flip.

      On a difference we saw throughout the full game, this was about even. However that first period was just atrocious, as we all saw and it shows up on the charts.

  • The 2 goals the Rangers scored were of the “gritty, greasy ” kind. Just the kind that all the pundits have said our heroes can’t score. This team has shown an ability to adapt to the type of game the opponent wants to play. I know it might get a little hard to watch for the Pierre McGuires of this world; who are just looking to criticize the top seed and pigeon-hole them as just a skating, quick strike team. But really, in the end, who gives a damn. A win,is a win, is a win! They don’t give out style points in the Playoffs. 13 to go!!

    • For sure, this Rangers team is proving to be adaptable. Which you have to be this time of year.

  • Glad to see my eye test last night of the first period matched up very well with the first period. Truly some of the worst hockey I’ve ever seen in a 20 minute span, at any level of the game.

    That was such a huge win though. Hope the crowd at the Garden is electric tomorrow night, would love to wrap this up in 5.

  • I don’t know why Dave says the Rangers “stole” the game.

    First, when you look at the whole game, shots–or corsi, or fenwick, or whatever you prefer–were basically even. Either team could have won.

    Second, even in the first period, it’s true that the Pens dominated, but the shots were only 8 to 2. When the shots are 20 to 5, you can say, “It could have been 3-0 after that period,” but when it’s 8-2, it isn’t really surprising that that the Pens only scored one goal. That’s the problem with that tight play strategy: even when you dominate, you don’t build up a big lead. Once the Rangers started playing, they had only a one-goal deficit to overcome. With their domination of possession metrics in the second half of the game, it isn’t surprising that they scored one goal, and then it was a crapshoot, statistically.

    • I don’t purport to speak for Dave, however, I have been reading here for a number of years. In my opinion, Dave supports the fancystat stuff full bore, he really believes it tells a big story. When it comes down to it though, it is difficult for him not to be a fan, after all that’s what we all are, and no matter what the stats say, the fan has to know that if you watched the game, the Rangers stole it. The eye test worked last night! What do you think, Dave?

      • Exact opposite actually. I use the stats to help my conclusions, I never use just stats or just eye test. I’m much better at separating emotions from players, which is why I”m able to criticize players constructively. I can say Girardi is being misused while still being able to like the guy.

        As I said above, the “fancy” stats (there’s nothing fancy about them) are relatively worthless in single game samples.

        I’ve also spent a significant amount of ink here debunking some of the “stats pundits” issues with this team, using systems and stats.

        One thing I’ve noticed: The systems affect the stats. Period.

    • They barely survived that first period, and that was a big reason why I think they stole it. Better teams make the Rangers pay for the way they played that period, and they are down 3-0 instead of 1-0.

      • You could not have put it any simpler. WE STOLE ONE.

        I live in Hawaii now and watch the games 6 hours later on DVR. Everyone one at work knows not to talk to me about hockey during the day so I can watch my game after work without knowing the score.

        After that first per i was getting close to just looking at the final score on-line and not putting myself thru the misery of the rest of the game.

        Glad I stuck it out, but still….. we stole that one.

  • Loved getting two garbage goals right in the face of Fleury. Great job in the 2nd and 3rd after the sluggish 1st to say the least.
    Feels like Girardi and McD are playing their best hockey of this year. Boyle on the other hand…
    Glass was out of position on the Pens goal. He was too low in front of net, and left the point wide open. Is anyone still holding out hope that Sheppard will replace Glass on Friday?

    • Sheppard took AVs daughter out on a date, and she bought him an erotic novel. He’ll need his dad to teach him how to box, back on the farm, before the coach has a change of heart.

  • I’m shocked Toronto didn’t intervene to call off the OT goal and bring everyone back on the ice because the ref MAY have been thinking about blowing the play dead. Miraculous.

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