Game ThreadPlayoffs

Conference Finals Game One: Start the series off right

The New York Rangers came roaring back last round, erasing a 3-1 deficit to beat the Capitals on Derek Stepan’s overtime winner. Now they have the Tampa Bay Lightning, a matchup not many New Yorkers wanted to see. Tampa is quick, talented, and deep. They have great goaltending, and their overall team defense is solid (but not deep). They have the speed to match the Rangers, something few teams in the league can boast.

But the Rangers have Henrik Lundqvist. They have been battle tested. They have been there before. The Bolts have not, and that may be the Blueshirts’ biggest advantage in this series.

Justin wrote a very detailed analysis on how to beat Ben Bishop, and I wrote a detailed systems/numbers preview of the series. Both are great reads if you haven’t already perused.

Bolts Systems

Jon Cooper has the Lightning playing a pretty similar system as the Rangers. They run an overload 1-2-2 forecheck, but will mix in a 2-1-2 as well. In the defensive zone, they mix zone and overload coverage depending on puck location. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play and rotate between a diamond and box penalty kill depending on opposition setup.

Bolts Lines

Alex Killorn-Steven Stamkos-Ryan Callahan
Ondrej Palat-Tyler Johnson-Nikita Kucherov
Cedric Paquette-Valterri Filppula-J.T. Brown
Jonathan Drouin-Brian Boyle-Vladimir Namestnikov

Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison-Brayden Coburn
Matt Carle-Andrej Sustr

PP1: Stamkos-Boyle-Palat-Filppula-Stralman
PP2: Johnson-Kucherov-Callahan-Killorn-Carle

PK: Boyle, Paquette, Brown, Johnson, Filppula, Palat, Stamkos, Stralman, Hedman, Carle

Ben Bishop gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Rick NashDerick BrassardMartin St. Louis
Chris KreiderDerek StepanJesper Fast
Carl HagelinDominic MooreKevin Hayes
Tanner GlassJ.T. MillerJames Sheppard

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Marc StaalDan Boyle
Keith YandleKevin Klein

PP1: Kreider-Stepan-St. Louis-Brassard-Boyle
PP2: Nash-Hayes-Miller-McDonagh-Yandle

PK: Stepan, Nash, Girardi, Staal, Moore, Fast, Hunwick, Boyle, Hagelin, Yandle, McDonagh

Henrik Lundqvist is in net.

Scratches/Injuries: Mats Zuccarello (concussion), Matt Hunwick (healthy)

Crazy Prediction: The game doesn’t end 2-1.

Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 1pm on NBC.

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  • These teams haven’t played since early December. Seems like three years ago. Expect a cautious feeling out process.

    Another x-factor….will be interesting to see how the Rangers respond after one of the biggest wins in franchise history less than 72 hours ago. A big Game 1 would obviously be huge, but I won’t panic if we fall short today. Hopefully a big win today though.

    LGR!!!!

  • Brian Boyle out with an unspecified injury. Listed as day to day. My initial reaction when hearing that news was to say “oh no!” Then I remembered he’s not on the team anymore! :).

    LGR!

      • I like Boyle. I liked what he brought to the table. He made a great scapegoat too. Sadly, like Cally, AV doesn’t value players with his skill set.

      • Can’t disgree at all!

        Thankfully, for us, it is tough to find holes in the current roster composition.

        And to ward off complainers before they chime in…. if the complaints start with our 12th forward (Glass) and 6th D man (Boyle), it’s probably a good team to be picking apart to begin with

        • Cally wasn’t traded because AV didn’t value him, he was traded because his contract demands were way to high for what he brought to the table. If his demands would have come down to what he currently gets with TB, perhaps he would still be a Ranger! Who knows? What I don’t understand is the disdain for AV. He could possibly be the best coach the Rangers ever had. I say sign him to a 10 year deal!! Love this guy, he can coach!! That’s why the Rangers are winning the Cup this year!

  • A couple of quick thoughts on the first 5 minutes and the series….

    The Rangers haven’t had five minutes with this much room to maneuver in the entire playoffs. If this is how Tampa will play them, they might score 3 goals in a game.

    Anton Strahlman’s comment that he knew the Rangers would come back when they were down 3-1 because “that’s what they do” says a lot. Apart from the obvious, he strikes me as a James Sheppard type…loyal to his friends and teammates.

    Ryan Callahan had guts. He is the anti-Anton/Zucc. I wish he made the choice to stay before he left, but even though the Rangers got the worst of the deal I’m glad he’s gone.

    • …and I like AV’s move to put MSL on a line with Hags and Dominant Moore. It will be nice if the Rangers can win some face-offs in the O-zone and with Yandle/Boyle paired with them, that should generate some great scoring chances. On D-zone starts, MSL is a great passer and hopefully he’ll get some chances to spring Hags on the stretch. It seems like a very balanced line.

    • Great first period! Just wish we could have put a few past Bishop.

      Not sure I agree about AV vis-a-vis Callahan and Boyle. I don’t think AV wanted either gone. Sather made those decisions based on cap issues. I think AV values “grit” players like, let’s say, Moore and, dare I say, Glass. I’m sure he’d have taken Cally and Boyler instead, but the price tags made that impossible.

      Also curious about your thoughts on Cally vs Anton and Zuc. Are you saying you think the latter two aren’t as tough as Cally? If so curious as to why?

      No question about Cally’s toughness, that’s for sure.

      • It meant that Zucc put team over money by taking the hometown discount as opposed to Cally.

        Obviously Anton had little choice but to leave, but much like James Sheppard who still talks very positively about the Sharks and the team, Strahlman has made positive public remarks about the Rangers.

        It’s really silly comments on my part. I don’t know the real story. It’s just a couple of observations I made.

        • I believe you are both right in a way. I personally don’t think that Big Boyle and Cally were exactly AV type of guys, but I believe he wouldn’t have minded having them in the lineup and probably would have made it work, but the economics helped the decision a bit.

          From what I remember. Strals was never even contacted by the Rangers. Big Boyle didn’t leave for more money, but was promised he would get more ice time and Cally definitely was traded because he wanted more money. I tell you, that trade wouldn’t have bothered me that much if that darn 1st round pick wasn’t involved, because we traded a player that had another full year left on his contract opposed to a player that only had 2 months left on his contract.

          • Oh and what I forgot to say was that I have to give a lot of respect for Stralman to say those things about us, especially if the way he departed from the Rangers is true.

  • Another game, another miss by MSL! They look good—forcing lots of turnovers. Need to bury these chances!!!!

    • MSL has been so disappointing. He can still pass though. That is why I think putting him in a spot where he can set up Hags on the stretch will best utilize his remaining + skill.

  • I love how in period 3 of game 1 Pierre is stating how Bishop is in the Rangers heads. How can that even be remotely possible? O wait, the Rangers just scored, time to shut it Pierre.

    • I’m so happy you brought that up. I ripped a few strands of my hair out when he said that RFIB! Wasn’t it in the second period when he said that? Pierre drives me nuts because I truly have a lot of respect for his Hockey knowledge, but his hatred for the Rangers is getting annoying.

    • LOL So funny, that’s all I could rave about for the next 5 minutes! He said the same thing about Holtby in the last series! He is a douche! Can’t stand him, sorry I don’t think he knows hockey very well. Just had to vent! please excuse the harsh words.

  • Kreider = Beast
    McDonagh = Beast
    Stepan = Clutch beast (Sather…..this contract is going to be tricky…but that’s for another day!)
    Fast = Mini-Beast

    So key they broke through. Even before the goal, my son said, “This kind of hockey is SO much more fun than what we saw in the first two rounds”. Agree. Room to skate, at least for the Rangers to this point. Should be a great 3rd!

    • Please add Nash to that beast list. We all want him to score more but he’s a beast in every game he plays. He’s been a BEAST in this game too.

      • Can we please also add Dominant Moore to the Beast list!!???!!!
        I love this guy.
        BTW: AV did some job today. He’s a Beast as well! LGR!!!!!!!

        • Um. Not really a Glass fan in the past, but let me know if you all don’t think he’s earning his pay this playoff season, because, if you do, we need to talk! LGR!!!!

    • I agree with you and your son….so does my mother. LOL

      The previous series were hard to watch…not something that is going to gain hockey a lot of fans.

  • By the way, LOVE the Staal pairing matched on on Stamkos line with McD’s pairing with the Triplets. That was what I was hoping they would do.

  • Just as I said….no more 2-1 games in this series…..ummmm….maybe not! 🙂

    Find-a-way Rangers do it again!

    Thought overall, Rangers played real well.

    Btw, Ovechkin just helped Russia beat the U.S. In the World Championships. Who says Ovie can’t come through in the big games? 🙂

  • I thought it was interesting that AV had Quickie out there in the final minute. That speaks to AV’s confidence in him and had to do wonders for his confidence.

    The downside of Step’s solid playoff performance is that as each game goes by, his contact is going to get bigger. I’d gladly take that downside for a Cup though.

    • Solid point on Stepan…but I fully agree.

      CUP and then deal with whatever fallout might be.

      As for Fast- I think he has shown us (and really reinforced it as he is stepping up at the most important time ever) that he is legit. Core Ranger for years to come. He is TENACIOUS on the forecheck and board play. Responsible too. Such a pleasure to watch.

    • For every positive comment, does there have to be 2 negative? Can’t we enjoy this run as fans and fully support the team effort the Rangers are putting forth? This a clearly a true team effort in every sense of the word. Witness Moore getting the game winner today!

  • Just watched Coopers presser. He’s a lit bit ‘snarky,’ isn’t he? Seemed to be just a bit arrogant when answering reporters.

  • AWESOME effort. The Rangers controlled everything and it was a pleasure to watch. They seem to be getting better and better.

    The Rangers scored (a goal they were due for after dictating the pace all game) in the dying seconds of the period and head into intermission with a 1-0 lead. Is it curious that Tampa’s best looking hockey started at the opening of the 3rd? Unfortunately, I think it is not so much what Tampa did, but more what the Rangers didn’t do which allowed that. By that, I mean the Rangers coaching staff switched things up with a 1-0 lead and 20 mins left Whether that means they send 1 forward in to forecheck instead of 2, or they hold the offensive blue line less tight, or n the D zone wingers should drop a bit to play the D less tightly- i dont know. But it happens often with a lead and I don’t like it.

    Based off all of that, I was almost relieved that TB got a PP marker to notch things up, so that we could get back to what we do. No more lead to defend or sit on. And it didn’t take any longer than 1 shift for our best scoring chance of the period- Nash from the slot.

    This change of philosophy with a lead will not change- but if I coud either have A) the chance to meet, say, Lundqvist and hang out with him for a day doing whatever I wanted- hockey, paintball, drive Lambos/Mclarens, hit the town with most likely the best wingman in the world and pick up high society women who normally would scoff me off- OR 2) ask AV and the rest of the coaching staff WHY we think it is a good idea to get away from everything which we’ve done to dominate a game when, seemingly all it does is allow the opposition momentum and a chance to crawl back into games they haven’t really been in to begin with– I really might be forced to do the latter. Probably not, but maybe.

    Would really be interested to hear everyone else’s thoughts. Option A or 2?

  • Bloomer, charity begins at home. I wish we still had Stralman. I wish he bled Ranger Blue. But, why should he? Hockey is not a game anymore, it is a business. Still, for we fans, it is still a game. Enjoy it, as I do!!! LGR

    • The way this site raves about Anton you would think the Rangers lost Bobby Orr. I glad the Bolts signed him, let them carry Stralman huge contract and eat away at their cap space for years to come. And no, we don’t miss his anemic 1 goal in 100 plus starts.

      • Come on Bloomer, there always better when they leave, on this site. Fans love to complain about the current team, no matter the time of the century! Just don’t get it!

      • Stralman’s gone, but he played well while he was here, and I’d rather have him than D. Boyle. Just FYI, this year he had 9 goals and 30 assists, makes about 4 million a year and is 29 years old. Dan Boyle had 9 goals and 11 assists, and makes 4.5 million a year and is 39 years old.

        • Joe, Stralman and Boyle both make $4.5 mil. The reason Boyle is here and not Stralman is because TB is on the hook for five years with Anton, while the Rangers have Boyle signed for just two.

          So by the summer of 2016, both Boyle and MSL will be gone (MSL likely this summer), freeing up significant cap space. TB meanwhile will be saddled with two players in Callahan and Stralman who will likely be on the decline. That’s why all is was done. Win now, but not get bogged down with long term deals on too many players. Makes sense.

  • I thought we played a hell of a game, but am expecting Tampa to make adjustments and clog up the middle of the ice going forward. I think they thought that they can go toe to toe with us in a open, speed game.

    Dominant Moore. All I can say is WOW. He was all over the place today, playing like a man possessed.

    I don’t wanna go there but I can’t resist….I thought they were getting away with a lot of interference, and clutching and grabbing in the first and felt that we should of had several PP´s in that first period. It was perplexing to me that our first PP took almost half the game to get and that was on a too many men call! I know, I know, we won the game, but if they continue to call the rest of the games like this, I’m gonna lose it 🙂

    • I’m right there with you. But I’ve come to the understanding that there is no rhyme or reason to officiating in the NHL and you just hope the refs aren’t the reason for wins and losses.

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