Game Wrap-upsPlayoffs

Goal breakdown: Derek Stepan sends the Rangers to the Conference Finals

For the second year in a row in the Division Finals, the New York Rangers erased a 3-1 series deficit to advance to the Conference Finals. Once again, this game ended with a 2-1 score. Once again, the goaltenders stood on their heads. Once again, the Rangers won an elimination game at home.

Braden Holtby had 37 saves. Henrik Lundqvist had 35 saves. Both goalies put on a clinic in this series. Both goalies are the reasons why this series went seven. The Rangers won, but give Holtby his due. Wow.

That’s all I got folks. On to the goals:

Caps 1, Rangers 0

alex ovechkin
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Ryan McDonagh loses a board battle with Alex Ovechkin after a faceoff, allowing Nick Backstrom to get the loose puck down to Marcus Johanssen down the boards. Ovechkin then cuts to the net, where McDonagh loses him for a step before trying valiantly to catch up. That one step was enough for a passer like Johanssen, and he hits Ovechkin in stride alone. Ovechkin isn’t missing from there.

Rangers 1, Caps 1

kevin hayes
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With the Rangers on the powerplay, McDonagh made a good play to keep the zone and get the puck to J.T. Miller along the boards. Kevin Hayes, in on the initial rush for the zone entry, had circled back before McDonagh kept the zone. The Caps didn’t pick him up as he got to the back door, and Miller hit him with a perfect pass for the easy tip-in.

Rangers 2, Caps 1

derek stepan
Courtesy of

Derek Stepan. Game, set, match.

USAT/Fenwick Chart

rangers capitals playoffs 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Very even throughout, although the Caps had long stretches where they pinned the Rangers in their own end, especially in overtime. They certainly had the better chances.

Scoring Chances

rangers capitals playoffs 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

As noted above, the Caps had the better chances. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Individual SAT/Corsi

rangers capitals playoffs 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi completely shut down the Ovechkin line. This was an unbelievable performance by them. Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, and Dominic Moore as well.

Shot Locations

rangers capitals playoffs 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Consistent with above. The Caps got a lot of prime chances. Henrik Lundqvist and the defense stood tall.

Shift Chart

rangers capitals playoffs 2015
Courtesy of war-on-ice

Tanner Glass and James Sheppard were pretty much glued to the bench with 10 minutes left in the third. That’s really the only thing of note here.

Enjoy it. The Rangers have a date with Tampa Bay

"Goal breakdown: Derek Stepan sends the Rangers to the Conference Finals", 5 out of 5 based on 6 ratings.
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  1. Also St. Louis was not used for the last ten minutes of the game, although he was re-activated in OT.

      1. You were surprised he was benched or surprised that he was “reinstated” in OT?

        I think the latter was necessary in order not to wear guys put particularly since they were already one short on D.

    1. When Girardi took that shot and I saw where the puck went, and I saw Holtby on the ice, I jumped. Maybe half a second before the puck went in. I saw it happening.

      1. Sorry for the thumbs down… meant to reply.

        But, yes, to your point. Nothing beats seeing a play unfold before it happens. An OT winner in Game 7…. can’t even describe.

        1. No worries. I thumbs up’d it to counter it.

          I was screaming at my TV “WIN THE FACEOFF.” They won it because the winger got in and knocked it back to Yandle. Then I saw the pass to Girardi and Stepan cut to the net. Once it was blocked, and Holtby was down, I knew it was done.

          1. I was at the game and watching the bench right before the sequence that lead up to the winning goal. Ulf called Fast to the bench. He had seen something in the last face-off that Stepp lost (Stepp had his stick lifted, so he could not get the puck), and told Fast to rush the dot and, if he could, swing the puck back to Yandle. And, needless to say, the rest is for the ages. – Not enough is said about how good the Rangers coaching staff is in making little adjustments, or how important those are.

          2. Wow, I did not notice that at the time, but that is absolutely right: Fast breaks for the dot instantly and he is really the one that wins the faceoff.

          3. Nobody is mentioning the work that Kreider did on that goal in tying up Orpik on the game winner. I would say the play that Step made on the puck was the easiest part of that entire game winner. Not trying to take anything away fromthe guy who just scored a game 7 OT winner in front of his home crowd, but the work the Kreids, Quicky, Yandle, and Girardi all did was amazing! Everybody on the ice gets credit for that one!

  2. What a final face-off play! All 5 Guys on the Ice.

    Steph (Faceoff), Fast tapping it back, Yandles with the quick hands up to Girardi! SHOT!, Kredier & Fast moving to the front – causing the commotion…. REBOUND! STEPH FADING OVER….



    I mentioned this to friends when I learned that Cally was out, “It’s like he wasn’t meant to play against his past captained team”


    1. After everything that was said about how bad they were on faceoffs, the series was won on an offensive faceoff win.

      1. Is this considered a face off win or does it just go down as SPEEDY BRING THE MAN and pushing the puck back out to KY?

        Either way I thought the rangers were trying to face OZ face-offs pushing the puck towards BH rather then allowing him to play the puck.

        It seemed they made him make easy playstops more this game.

        GAME 7! WOOOOOOW

  3. Fast plays some spirited hockey. I love his game, especially in his own end. Guys like he are what championship teams need.


    1. Fast certainly has adjusted well to the NHL game. He was ready last year, but this year he’s showing he belongs.

        1. I always thought he would be just a 4RW, but he’s shown he can skate top-9. I think he can be a long term 3RW.

  4. Nerve-wracking game that could have gone either way. Can’t believe the pressure and puck-possession the Caps had throughout the game.

    I think MSL looked tired even before the elbow. I think Boyle needs a rest.

    Stepan came up big, but the goal was the easy part – as explained above, the face-off win (don’t tell me they are not important), the pass, the shot, the rebound and the positioning all allow us to go to the Eastern Conf final.

    Look for Tampa to play a similar trapping defense. Not sure they throw the body around like Caps do. I do think Tampa is quicker.

    Fasten your seatbelts, it is gonna be a fun ride! Let’s hope They are w/o Cally and we get back Zucc at some point.

    1. I’ll take back what I said earlier in the series, faceoffs ARE somewhat important.

      Maybe it’s time for the focus to shift from mere faceoff totals to O-Zone and D-Zone draws? Those seem to be the important ones.

      1. The faceoff as an individual play does matter at the “in the now” moment, in the sense of a set play that leads to a goal within 4 seconds. While that game winner was a result of the faceoff win (Girardi’s shot doesn’t come if they lose), the goal itself was fairly lucky, as the puck bounced right to Stepan (most goals are of this nature anyway).

        In the grand scheme of things, it’s rare that a goal occurs within that timeframe after puck drop.

      2. I feel that many of the elongated periods of time that the Caps were in our zone were the result of lost face-offs. Now – were they more aggressive than us at taking possession? I would say yes. Did we win our share of 50/50 pucks? I would say no.

        1. I’m not sure that the 4 second window is a fair assessment of the importance of a faceoff.

          I’d state rather firmly that every defensive draw won is hugely impactful, as you deprive the opposing team the opportunity to take possession in your zone, set up, generate traffic, etc. Winning a defensive zone draw must be registered as pivotal.

          As for offensive zone draws, I would argue that far more than the simple 4 second window for either scoring or not scoring would suggest, offensive zone draws can also have major affect on a game.

          Consider, winning the draw, setting up, generating chances and zone time, and ultimately drawing a penalty because of this which nets a PP goal. Winning that faceoff directly set up the sequence of events that resulted in a goal 1 minute and a half later.

          Or, consider winning the faceoff, setting up, generating chances and zone time, sustaining an attack, maybe even getting off a line change while holding the zone, getting the crowd into the game, and swinging momentum to your side.

          Maybe no goal directly comes from this, but it affects the game and can have positive results.

          So, while many faceoffs have little impact on the game, and it’s a lazy narrative when analysts charge that a team with a 35-20 faceoff disadvantage shouldn’t expect to win, I think situationally faceoffs are much more meaningful than simply whether a goal results in the following 4 seconds.

  5. I loved the way JT played, best of the playoffs for him. To their great credit, coaching staff saw too and double shifted him for stretches. This could propel him to a higher level. The Rangers will need contributions from the length and breadth of their lineup against TB. They won’t be beaten up or beaten down but they will need to mark the triplets closely, and of course the ex Rangers will be savoring the chance to make a difference. Rangers have had trouble putting pucks through Bishop. Their carry in style should take his stick handling out of play somewhat, but they will need to make him move laterally and open his five hole.

    No predictions…that’s not what we do. But the regular season record is likely meaningless. Open ice is harder to find in the playoffs. The ride continues.

    1. I was petrified that the Rangers would trade him at the deadline. Glad they didn’t. He’s been great in Zucc’s absence.

    1. Not destiny yet. TBL was a lot of people’s (myself included) choice to come out of the East. Without Zucc, this is going to be a tough series.

        1. I should’ve preceded that with “at the beginning of the season.” In my bracket, I have NYR all the way. My East is actually close to perfect, including # of games.

  6. “For the second year in a row in the Division Finals, the New York Rangers erased a 3-1 series deficit to advance…”

    ^first time ever in NHL history.

    Was happy to see AV rolling Miller on the first line in the last 10 minutes last night. No knock on MSL, but it shows he isn’t afraid to make adjustments in important situations.

    Curious to see how Boyle is feeling today. He got it pretty good on a questionable hit by Orpik.

    And it’s onto the next…

      1. That’s what was said over and over in the postgame.

        Also, Hayes was the first Rangers rookie to score in a Game 7 since 1939 … so that’s something

  7. Is there an obligation to shake the hand of a player like Orpik after that dirty hit he laid on Boyle?

      1. Anyone else think Orpik will be asked to sit out the first 3 or 4 games next season?

        That was one dirty hit, went straight for Boyle’s head. Pretty sure if that wasn’t a Game 7 Orpik was getting 5 and the gate for targeting the head.

          1. It really does matter. The NHL has to do everything it can to cut down on concussions. I am not even saying the hit was dirty, just that players need to be taught to hit without hitting heads.

          2. Well yes, that is true. At the NHL level it matters. At the revenge level it doesn’t.

            No penalty was called on the ice, and that seems to be the bigger issue.

    1. All OT I was hoping, win or lose, that after the final goal was scored Glass would beeline for Orpik and beat the piss out of him.

      Wishful thinking.

      1. No point. The last laugh is winning the series.

        This may sound cruel, but there’s no real drop off between Boyle and Hunwick.

        1. That’s a bit harsh. Boyle is a much much better offensive weapon than Hunwick.

          Hunwick is a fine 7th D, can skate, play reasonable D with sheltered minutes and isn’t terrible with the puck. I will say that I felt Hunwick was starting to look exposed towards the end of Klein’s absence. Although, that was likely due to Boyle’s poor D play and the need to elevate Hunwick to the second pair.

          It’s going to be interesting to see how Ulf and AV handle the D pairs if Boyle is out. Does Klein move up to the second pair or does the D become more of a rotation where one of the Big 4 is always on the ice and Yandle/Hunwick get mixed in based on matchups/zone starts?

        2. But you don’t stick up for teammates based on their skill level.

          Boyle being replaceable shouldn’t factor into whether someone steps up and challenges Orpik.

          I understand that there was toomuch at stake during tthe game, but after the final buzzer….

          Fan being a fan, I guess.

          Though Girardi’s shot did deflect off Orpik and go right to Stepan, so there’s that.

          1. Payback for Brooks Orpik is scheduled for next regular season.

            Although, it likely won’t matter. In true Pittsburgh Ice-Chicken fashion (He was a 1st round pick for Pitt), Orpik won’t fight when a Ranger (Glass? McIlrath?) challenges him next season.

        3. Except that Boyle has 2 GWGs in the playoffs. Hunwick is good defensively and is not bad getting the puck up the ice, but he doesn’t put up the points.

          1. Fair enough. I think Hunwick erases some defensivey holes that Washington exploited last round. Give and take here.

        4. Boyle was playing very well defensively in this series. Hunwick would have been an upgrade on Yandle though.

          What happens with Yandle next year will be interesting. Simply looking at +/- over the years, one gets the impression of a talented kid who used to be able to play defense but lost it. What we have seen in NY is a tire fire. Can AV and Ulf make him back into a good defenseman starting from training camp?

          1. I think if Yandle gets an offseason and training camp with the Rangers he will find his game. I imagine, as is the case with most players that come from cellar dwelling teams, that Yandle’s conditioning is sub-par this season. Also, he’s a year away from unrestricted free agency so he’ll be playing for a shot at a big contract next season.

            Like you said Ray, Yandle once was is a really good D. He’s now in his prime years. Even on the Rangers stacked blue line he should be able to earn and handle top 4 minutes.

          2. Yandle is a prime offensive guy who will blow defensive assignments from time to time. If you can shelter him at ES and give him the PP minutes, he will be fine. It’s about deployment.

          3. There are problems with +/-, but it is far from worthless.

            I think you are overreacting to the idea that +/- is some magical number that tells you exactly how good a player is and it most definitely is not.

            One drawback is that +/- is an ES stat which is influenced by team strength and usage. Then again, so are the possession stats. Where possession stats beat +/- is that they are based on larger samples and +/- is riddled by small sample size error. However, when you have years of data, it is fair to draw conclusions.

  8. JT has to be elevated to Brassard’s line. St Louis is just useless out there and his play means Tampa can pay more attention to Nash. Of course, if Zucc comes back, it’s a different ball game.

      1. Miller to 1W
        Moore back down to 4C
        MSL down to 3W

        ^would be the only logical shuffling

  9. WOW!!! What a great effort by our team. Not only did they beat a very good team, they did it in spite of some of the worst officiating ever seen. I’m surprised AV made some mention of it after the game because he usually says nothing. Two vicious head shots on Boyle in this series and no penalties (: On to Tampa, and the guy who we need to shut down is Johnson, he’s the spark plug. Bishop is so huge there is little net to shoot at. Hard to beat in close, need to shoot medium long as much as possible, his glove hand is suspect.

      1. It will be interesting to see how Cooper matches up his D pairs against Nash and Kreider. Maybe Hedman vs. Kreider and Coburn or Sustr vs. Nash? As much as we love Stralman, seeing him match up against big physical wingers like Nash, Kreider, and Hayes might be too much for Anton.

        TB seems to be short a top 4 D man. The Rangers scoring depth might be on display all series.

          1. I like that matchup for the Rangers. I have a feeling Kreider can make Stralman look silly. Kreider’s physical attributes, speed, size, might be more than Strals can handle.

            Stralman is a really smart, efficient D, but he can get overpowered at times and Kreider can certainly beat him to the outside

          2. Kreider can beat anyone not named Karlsson to the outside. But Stralman plays his angles well, so if he can keep Kreider to the outside, then the risk is mitigated.

  10. Can my boy Danny G get some love? Let’s hear it for him, he was a beast all series and was crucial (more so than McDonagh in my opinion) in shutting down Ovechkin most of the series.

    This is what he’s here for.

        1. There was actually a play in the 3rd last night where he dropped to block a shot and did it perfectly. Body in the primary shooting lane, forced shooter to shoot short side, where Hank was, and didn’t take himself out of the play.

  11. A guy walks into a bar and orders an Ovechkin. The bartender looks confused and asks: “What the heck is an Ovechkin?” The guy says: “It’s a White Russian with no ice and no cup.”

  12. The trouble with faceoffs is the cheating that goes on. In fact, I heard a player talking about this the other day as a key to winning them. The NHL made players stand farther apart on the circles and the same has to happen with faceoffs. Players taking the face off standing further apart and skates not infringing over the demarcation lines. Just one of several rule changes needed in the NHL whose owners and officials lack critical thinking skills.

      1. That was the problem the Rangers had though. The big Caps Ds and Ws would essentially turn sideways off the draw and make a wall that the Rangers couldn’t fight through consistently while the Caps that were back would sweep up the puck. It’s technically interference and illegal, but much like holding in the NFL it happens every play and the refs simply can’t call it.

        The Rangers were only winning faceoff possession when they were able to tie up the Caps C on the dot or the Rangers C was able to push the puck exactly where the wings were expecting it.

        It’s one of the downsides of being a smaller team, but I’m ok with the tradeoff. There’s only one massive team left in the playoffs and I think Anaheim has big problems in net and on the blueline. I could see Chicago scoring early and often in that series much like the Rangers did to Anaheim in the regular season.

  13. One thing I just noticed on the game winner: Fast’s stick is up in celebration about a half second before Stepan netted the winner. He knew it too.

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