Thoughts heading into Game 5

Here we are. It’s Friday and the Rangers are heading home one win away from dispensing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round. Naturally, I have thoughts…

  • I didn’t get home Wednesday night until the first intermission. Although I had it on the DVR, Twitter was kind enough to let me know I hadn’t missed anything.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury has been surprisingly good so far in this series. I know The Suit is not a fan, but you have to give credit where credit is due. His angles have been sharp, his movements have been controlled (for the most part) and he really hasn’t given away anything to New York.
  • In that same vein, Henrik Lundqvist has been even better. With the Pens being forced to come 200 feet all series, since, you know, none of their defenseman can move the puck, Hank hasn’t had to do a ton. When he has been called upon, though, he has shown no rust from his nearly two month layoff. Hopefully the rest helps him as the playoffs march on.

  • James Sheppard cannot be a happy camper right now.
  • With all the consternation about the lack of scoring on the Rangers part so far, no one is really recognizing the tremendous defense they are playing. The Blueshirts have not allowed more than 25 shots on goal in any game in the series. They got a little lax on Crosby in game 2 and got burned, but for the most part, all these 2-1 games haven’t been nearly as stressful as they should be.
  • It’s so much fun to watch the Caps and Isles beat the snot out of each other. I hope whoever the Rangers *may* draw in the second round comes limping in broken and bleeding. It’s also a wildly entertaining series. Two very evenly matched teams.
  • Man, would I love to see Detroit knock out Tampa. I know, “to win the Cup you have to beat the best, yada yada”, but Tampa scares the bejesus out of me. I would much rather potentially deal with Detroit and their “veteran wiliness” than Tampa Bay and their hugely talented roster.
  • It’s going to suck when MSG loses their regional rights to the playoffs. Notwithstanding that listening to Doc Emerick is like ear rape, it’s not fair to iconic team broadcasters that they don’t get to share in the excitement of their team advancing deep into the postseason. Here’s a radical idea: let the play-by-play guys who call the games for each Stanley Cup Finalist join Emerick in the booth for the final series.
  • Dan Girardi is not human.
  • I love the circus that is this Calgary Flames team. They have no business in the playoffs and less business having success in the playoffs. Yet here they are, up 3-2 on a pretty decent Canucks team.
  • Tin Foil hat time: many media outlets have already dismissed possible conspiracy theories regarding Connor McDavid. The basic idea is that it wouldn’t make sense for the NHL to allow it’s next big star to toil away in the obscurity of western Canada on a terrible team. Consider this: one of the league’s most proud franchises, moving to a new facility with no central star to build it’s team around. Think about it…not that the NHL would ever do anything like that…
  • I can’t conclude my thoughts without touching on the goalie carousel going on around the league. I actually had a conversation with my uncle last night about this. I’ve said ad nauseum in this space that all NHL goaltenders are very talented athletes. What separates the good ones from the great ones is consistency across a long, grinding season. In the playoffs, though, anyone can get hot and make a run. Look at Antti Niemi, who has proven himself wholly mediocre as a full-time starter, but had a sensational run in 2010 and has a Stanley Cup ring.
  • Might as well finish on a Rangers note. They better win tonight. No more of this mucking about and letting teams hang around. Finish them and move on. I picked the Rangers in six, but I would very happily be wrong for one less game. Let’s get it done.


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  • It’s not that Fleury is a bad goaltender. At his best I think he’s a top 10 net minder in the NHL. He’s got one of if not the quickest glove hands in the NHL. I’m not Justin but I bet the scouting report on him clearly states. “Keep away from glove side”.

    -I don’t know who the Rangers would be better off against( in the 2nd round) but we beat the Cap 4 out of 5 I beleive where we lost 3 of 5 to the NYI. We won the last 2 tho when we found out how to play.

    -I so hope the Wings beat the Lightning. Yes TB scares me a bit bit but in a series I think we would be the more experienced team. The only playoff experience they have is from ex-NYR players. We can go goal for goal with them and save for save. However they want to play I think we could do it a little better. Experience in net (Bishop) and throughout the lineup would be the Lightning undoing. Albeit in a 7 game series. I think it’s a matter of time before the pressure gets to Bishop.

    -you mentioned something I have thought of year after year but never said. Why do we have to listen to Doc Emerick in NY? He sounds like a Canadian Bevis when his voice shrieks “fires”! or “a shawt”!
    I know the NHL gets a lot of its money (HRR) from its TV deal with NBC and USA now (when was that announced?) but why can’t we have the choice to watch the game on MSG or NBCSN? I know the answer but Doc sucks. I’ll feel bad and say nice things about him when he dies but until then I can’t stand listening to him and that NYR hater McGuire. Who thinks he knows everything but is really quite amateur in hockey IQ. The Suit could get on the Mic and make him cry with all the fictional & opinionated rhetoric he spits out. That is a good idea tho. At least in NY let us hear Sam & Joe do the game. NBCSN employs Joe for games. I hate Doc and Pierre.
    -The Flames seem to win games a lot like the Rangers do. Just not quite as well as the Rangers do and without the dominant 7 defenseman the Rangers have. That is 2/3 possession and 1/3 off the rush. The Rangers were only right around 50% CF on the season. Maybe a smidge below but you look at Score Adjusted CF and the Rangers are one of the top teams.
    I thought the Flames would burn out this round like the Avs last season and the Leafs before. However, those young kids they have don’t quit. The big difference between Calgary & Edmonton is the Backend. A little goaltending helps too but Calgary doesn’t have any great backstopp.

    The Oilers will get McSavior this summer and then be in the lottery again next year. If they want Talbot (I hope Sather keeps the Lube home) they can but unless they add a few NHL calibre defenseman, it won’t matter any. By the way I hope we get that 2nd first round Pick the Oilers got from Pitt for Perron. No rush to trade Talbot. He’s the best of the goalie group this offseason. Already signed through next season ($1.45 mil). Any of the others will cost double that and up. The worst will likely start at $3 mil.
    By the time the Oilers are any good McDavid’ ELC will be up and they’ll either have to fire sale or let McDavid go because he’s too expensive. They already over committed long term contracts to multiple players.
    I also think Eichel will end up being more of a Nash type. A 2-way player that’ll buy in and help a team win when he’s not lighting up the scoreboard. 10 years from now people will look back (buffalo fans especially) and think the Sabres got the better player in this coming draft.

    • Don’t forget to include the “Benedict Arnold” himself, Eddie Olczyk, he should be required to turn in his Stanley Cup ring. He hates the Rangers also.

      • Haha… Eddie hates the Rangers. Was he the James Sheppard or Stu Bickel of the 94 cup winning team or something? I was only 7 in 94, but wasn’t he in and out of the line up with the black aces?

  • Daily reader, but rare commenter.

    People forget that in the 94 playoffs, the Rangers got a lot of help, and did not have to beat the best; Washington, whom we beat easily in the second round, was seeded 7th, and had won fewer than half their regular season games, had knocked out #2 Pittsburg; and Vancouver, also #7 (in the West), and also a winner of fewer than half their games, did the Rangers a great favor by knocking out all the scarier opponents.

    I remember appreciating these teams helping the Rangers at the time. It never hurts to hope other series end with upsets.

    • The Wings had TB, up 2 games to 1 with a 2 goal lead with less than 10 minutes left in regulation of game 4. Then they choked it away.

      • Yup. That may be the first shoe to drop in Tampa winning the series. Detroit let them off the mat. Very disappointing game.

      • Was watching that and was way too invested for it not being a Ranger game.

        -Tyler Johnson had his coming out party. Scored to make it 2-1 with 5:4x left. Then had the primary on Palat’s tying goal a couple minutes later. Then had the OT winner. Good for him (and my fantasy hockey team next year) but believe Detroit has got to be pissed. RFib said it nicely- first shoe to drop.

        -NBC broke it down nicely (Keith Jones- who, by the way, is my favorite guy on that network) pointing out that Ericsson dropped the assignment on both TB goals in regulation. And he is their top pairing guy who plays with Kronwall.


        • Yeah I don’t think that was Johnsons coming out party. He had it during the 82 game season. He led the team with 72 points (tied with Stamkos who was +2) and was a +33 on the season.
          I think he had his fun already. However, I think the Rangers could shut them down or win a 5-4 game with them. Most players are only now playing their first playoff series. They’ll wear down and go on a dry spell.
          If I were Detroit or any team playing them now, I’d go attack Strahlman hard. Hit him every chance I had. After him there isn’t a single defenseman able to move the puck up ice as fast and the way he can. Imo he is TB X-factor. Callahan and Boyle want to block a ton of shots. So abblidge them. Take lots of point shots and shots in general. Callahan is made of glass. I attack those 2 if I’m Detroit.
          Before those two got there (Boyle too) they were at or near the bottom of the NHL in PK% and GAA. Strahlman is the key to their team. Without him the Lightning are a glorified Pens team with no Defense. Hedman has progressed but he can’t skate like Strahlman.

      • That was a fun one to watch. Usually I watch the Isles/Caps because those games have been great, but once the Isles crapped themselves, I switched over.

    • For what it’s worth, the Pens were the #2 seed that year, but the Devils had the second most points in the entire NHL that season. Yes, Washington was an easier matchup in the second round, but the 94 Rangers definitely beat the best non-Rangers team in the playoffs that season.

      Also, that was the season Detroit imploded in Game 7 against the Sharks. That was the game Chris Osgood had an embarrassing giveaway which led to a third period empty net game winner for the Sharks.

  • First of all Fleury is playing outstanding in goal for the Pens. He is being coached by someone who has changed his style altogether. He now stands up much longer, square to the shooter, rather than flop real soon as in the past. Now I know zippo about tending, but the eye test shows a different guy in net for them this year, vs the last few years!!!!!!!!!!

    I live in central Pa, and when I get sick of hearing the NBCS crew, I turn to Root, the Pens network, and then get sick all over again wit their announcer’s. Why would the NHL not let MSG do the Ranger games is beyond me, because not only is Root getting to broadcast their games, Comcast does the same with the Filthadelphia games!!!!!!!!!!! Could it be Buttman is putting it to Dolan again????????

    Now to the business at hand. We will win tonight, I believe because the wind was taken out of the Pens sails the last game. We came back and won, even after all the BS the Pens pulled. That has got to be a deflated team there!!!!!!!!

    On the Mc David front, think about this, would the NHL rather see him as an Oiler, or play for Buffalo?? Let’s not forget this is Canada’s sport, not upstate New York’s!!! It stinks for this to be the case, but stranger things have happened!!

    • Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m assuming the announcers have to do some kind of promotion of the stars during the broadcasts.

      • Walt MSG is still doing the Rangers games right now, at least here in NY.

        Those stuck with NBC aren’t in the NY area.

        I think MSG loses the rights starting next round, but it would be the same thing for Pittsburg if they advanced.

        • Yea, MSG loses the rights starting next round.

          MSG also has some sort of agenda in their broadcasts, but are a bit more subtle about it.

          • Yea, I’m sure just about every broadcast station is going to have its agendas and biases.

            But, to be honest, I feel Joe and Sam spend more time discussing the other team, especially the young players, explaining who these guys are, where they’re coming from, undervalued or unknown guys, which I appreciate as a fan of the Rangers not really knowing as much about some of the personnel on the other team.

            I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a Rangers game on the opposing team’s broadcast and heard them say thing like “the Rangers player.” What? Who? Other times they don’t seem to understand the value of young Rangers players (like Anisimov, Dubinsky, and Miller in their early years) who might not be as known around the League.

            One thing I will certainly say is Joe and Sam, more than maybe any other NHL hometown broadcast duo, they do their homework on the opposing teams that the Rangers play. That’s professionalism, even if Joe especially has become a bit more biased in recent years.

          • I’ve lived in many locations, and traveled for my company before I retired, and your right, MSG, and the Ranger broadcasts over the years have always been the best act in town. Oh, and that goes for the radio side of the house as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • How does a team that has drafted 3 #1s, a #3, and a #7 overall in the past 5 years not have a central star to build around?

    Seriously. How does that happen? Edmonton does not deserve McDavid.

    • Poor upper management has left them with holes at G, D, and C. You build from the net out in this league. Wingers are support characters. G, D, and C give you consistency.

  • What’s with all the sensitivity about announcers? These national guys, while exhibiting some man love for Crosby, generally just go the way the wind is blowing. The Rangers won the President’s Trophy, and that brings big expectations (fairly or unfairly). They have not lived up to those expectations so far. Big deal.

    They highlighted very real things the Rangers were not doing well in some of these games and very real things the UNDERDOG Penguins were doing well. That’s ShowBiz.

    You watch, if they start rolling Eddie O., Pierre and the rest will jump the bandwagon. They are trend followers for a national audience.

      • I actually like Doc. He reminds me of those Saturday afternoon matinee games. Maybe it’s the nostalgia or maybe it’s the recognition that his will go down as an iconic voice in hockey. Either way, he doesn’t bother me at all and I rather enjoy his loquacious routine.

          • “It squibbed on through!”

            Come on, guys, you know you love him. The guy’s a broadcast genius, completely unparalleled in his ability to take an otherwise routine, tired verb such as “pass” or “shoot” and rephrase it 150 different ways throughout the course of a game. I’ll miss him when he’s gone.

          • Never watched B&B, couldn’t stand ’em for more than 2 seconds when they used to be on all the time, so maybe that helps listening to Doc and not being plagued by images of B&B dancing around my head.

  • Winning tonight would be nice, but not the Ranger way. We cannot do anything simple or easy. It will be a one goal game in the final 5 minutes.

    Kudos to a Pens team that put a plan together to keep these games tight. Our defense is outstanding, even knowing that Klein will be out another 5 or 6 days after some pain yesterday.

    Sheppard being shown that the GM can make the deals, but AV tells who to dress.

    Time for Zucc snd MSL to put some in the net.

    • Sal, we were terrible in game 4s… we righted the ship on that one. Hopefully retain that killer instinct we show in Game 7s…

      I think we take it tonight… 3-2

  • I disagree completely with what you said about NHL goalies. Ben Bishop is a terrible goalie but he’s 6 foot 8 inches and covers most of the net. The goalies just keep getting bigger & bigger and when they butterfly all you have to shoot at is top corner. That’s why so many goals are scored with traffic in front of the net and deflections. Guys you never heard of(Hammond) come up and are instant stars. Even Skapski only had one goal against. THE NETS ARE TOO SMALL FOR THE GAME NOW!!!!!! And the NHL being a dinosaur league can’t seem to adapt to it.

    • Bishop is a terrible goalie? What’s wrong with you, man?

      There are plenty of tall goalies who are terrible- Anders Lindback for instance.

      But Bishop ain’t one of them.

    • Thats a good idea! Have the net size correlate with the size of the goalie. So if the goalie is 6ft tall the goal would be 6×6 and if the goalie was 8ft tall the goal would be 8×8.

    • Whoa whoa whoa…..”A dinosaur league?!?!” Name me another Pro Sport that has made more changes in practically every facet of sport then the NHL Over the past 10 years???.. Jeez man,.if anything you got it totally backwards!!! Blue lines are closer together, drastically changing the way penalties are called, instant replay, salary cap, goalie lines, expansion, shootouts, two line passes.etc etc….I.can keep going on! Wow!

      Also on Bishop….Think he’s a farrrr better goalie then you think my friend. I didn’t check this but from my recollection, I think our record against him is pretty bad if my memory serves me correctly.

  • Nothing for me to disagree with here, on the whole, boys.

    One thing you’ve neglected to mention on the last 2 posts — Yandle. He has been pretty darn good so far, despite playing under the weather. Glad he’s on the team and I expect him to really come on as the playoffs progress.

  • “Here’s a radical idea: let the play-by-play guys who call the games for each Stanley Cup Finalist join Emerick in the booth for the final series.”

    Oh god really!? Like to announce? That would just be word vomit coming through the speakers. The best way I think to handle this and get the regional guys back involved would be to let a triple broadcast happen. National with the NBC team on NBC; then use CNBC and NBCSN to do regional broadcasts with each team’s regular regional broadcasters. It would be pretty great to listen to the guys, to be honest though I’m not really listening most of the time anyways.

  • RE: Pierre/Doc – I don’t hate Pierre because he’s biased against the Rangers. I hate him because he sucks. When he interviews a player or coach, he makes a statement of his opinion, then asks them to explain why he is right. He interrupts the flow of the play by play constantly with statements that are obvious to anyone that is watching the game or hammer home whatever opinion he thinks makes him smarter then everyone else and keeps repeating it until something happens that shows he really didn’t know squat.

    Remember when Torts basically told Pierre to F-off in the 2013? When AV got hired Pierre had his tongue so far up AV’s rump that every time AV opened his mouth you’d think he had two tongues. At the start of 2014 he would find at 5 opps per game to trash Torts and suck AV’s rump. He was still bringing up AV’s superiority to Torts at least twice a game even at the start of this season.

    My take is Pierre has low self-esteem and over compensates for his proven lack of skill as a scout and coach by memorizing every player that played for Saskatoon Blades to make it appear as if he knows something about the game. He accomplishes the same thing by constantly name dropping and implying that he has confidential info from decision makers that wouldn’t even hire the guy to work for their team.

    He’s an annoying hack that never shuts up….just like me. 😀

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