Thursday, April 19, 2012
R1, G4: More OT Awfulness
The Rangers had a chance to take a stranglehold in their series against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday and they blew it.
The Blueshirts blew an early 2-0 lead and ultimately lost 3-2 in overtime, letting the Sens draw even at two games apiece. John Tortorella has not had his team press the advantage once this season and he did not have them do it again last night. They take the lead and battle to hang on to it, praying that Hank will be up to the task. Well, one game after giving a dominating performance he could not. All three Senator goals were stoppable but bigger factor was the fact that the Rangers couldn't get any kind of attack together against an Ottawa defense that gave up 240 goals - the most of any team to make the playoffs.
It is getting harder and harder to figure out which team was the higher seed entering this series. That is not a testament to the Senators, but proof that the Rangers play down to the level of their opponents - something they have done all year. That year is about to end if they can't figure out how to finish off what should be an inferior foe.
*One hit on Karlsson, three minutes into the game. This marks the third game in row that the Swedish defenseman hasn't been hit and the third game in a row where the Rangers were outplayed. Not a coincidence.
*Mike Rupp was the best Ranger during the overtime. Let me repeat that. Mike Rupp was the best Ranger during the overtime. On one hand, Rupp's playoff past is why the Rangers signed him (over Zenon Kenopka, who would actually have been far more of a help this season). On the other hand, HE IS MIKE F-ING RUPP!
*Why did no one go after Carkner? Instead of getting his comeuppance he got an assist. Oops.
*Helluva hit by Marc Staal on Jason Spezza. Helluva hit. And nice of Spezza to play it up to try to get Staal sent off. Sorry, didn't work softie.
*Speaking of soft, no Alfredsson again. While we made the superstar vs. rookie claim on the suspension decision to Hagelin, it is appearing more and more that both were equally important to their teams. Unfortunately, while the Sens are surviving, Hagelin's absence is killing the Rangers. The forecheck is not the same, the attack is not the same, the dump and chase is not the same ... the only good thing about this series extending to six games is that the kid will be back before it is too late.
*His replacement Chris Kreider continues to look out of place. Kreider has NHL skills, to be sure, but he is not a NHL-ready package. He looks lost out there at times, he disappears and he has blown the few scoring chances that he has been given on a silver platter. The college kid would certainly have been better served skating in Hartford (with JT Miller now) than being thrust into the middle of this chaos. We just have to hope that a supporting Garden crowd will give him the boost he needs to be relevant on Saturday.
*Nice to get two first period power play goals. Not nice to blow three second period power plays, one of which where they didn't get off a single shot. New York typical.
*Brian Boyle's scoring streak was snapped. Boyle played more than 19 minutes just three out of the previous 85 games. He never played more than 20 minutes. So it only makes sense that a desperate Tortorella would put him out for 20:54 in this one.
*Boyle took 28 faceoffs, Richard$ 23. The next-highest was Arty, who took four. Things worked out for Torts in Tampa when leaned hard on a young Richard$ and Vinny Lecavalier constantly, because they were superstars. Things are not working out here - he has to use more of his lineup.
*Stu Bickel had the save of the night in Game 3, so it only makes sense for Torts to keep him on the bench for most of this one. Stu got called for a nickel-dime penalty, McDonagh got called for two of them. And Mac just kept on playing on. That is not to say that they are equal - they are not - but that Torts is too hard on Stu. Konopka and Neil regularly made themselves at home around Hank but the Ranger head coach decided to keep his bruiser blueliner on the bench. Ridiculous.
*Derek Stepan was not good. Pointless in his last six, two goals in his last 21 games. Heard that he may be nursing an undisclosed injury and, given his level of play, would not be the least bit surprised if that was indeed the case.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Brad Richards - two assists.
2-Craig Anderson - 31 saves.
1-Kyle Turris - one goal.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Richard$ - Good numbers across the board but he couldn't help the Rangers when it counted.
2-Milan Michalek - The Czech, who happens to hail from the same hometown of Ales Kotalik, plays in all situations and finally broke through for a goal.
1-Sergei Gonchar - An offensive defenseman who contributes on the scoresheet? Heh, how about that? Del Zaster, one assist in his last eight games. (You had know I'd get him in this wrap at some point ...)