Tuesday, May 15, 2012
R3, G1: Another Game 1 Win
While it is truly delightful to defeat Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils - as the Rangers did 3-0 on Monday - any enjoyment must be tempered due to the other Game 1s the Blueshirts went through this spring. New York came out on top in the series openers against both Ottawa and Washington only to put forth an atrocious performance in the follow up.
Besides, it isn't like the Rangers blew out the Devils in any way. The first period was the two teams feeling themselves out and the second saw the Blueshirts sleepwalk their way to the buzzer, as Hank saved their bacon. They woke up in time for the third period and grabbed the momentum with Dan Girardi's goal in the first minute.
The trick now will be to carry that momentum to Wednesday. The Devils were a bit rusty at the outset of this one and were far from the physical team that stood up to the Bullies, you can be sure that won't be the case again so the Blueshirts had better bring it.
*Always loathe to give Fatso any credit for his goaltending - most of his career numbers are a facade - but his diving glove save on Staal was outstanding. Good thing Steve Bernier boarded Girardi seconds later, eliminating any boost that the Devils may have gained.
*And the penalty resulted in a power play goal. Scored by Chris Kreider. How about that? A young scorer on the power play. The man advantage had been so poor the previous three attempts that people were actually calling for John Mitchell to get on the ice. Love Ranger fan sarcasm.
*The saddest thing about the Ranger special team is that Hank's best saves of the game came while the team had a man advantage - the back-to-back-to-back stops on Zach Parise in the second period. He had three straight shots on Hank, because Del Zaster completely botched the play. No shock there. For a few seasons now, when the opposition gets a penalty, I rock in my seat and rant 'no shorties, no shorties, no shorties ...' And DZ nearly handed one to the Devils on a silver platter in the Eastern Conference Finals. Gross incompetence. (BTW, the rant came thanks to that scarring Mike Richards three-on-five goal way back when.)
*And before anyone throws DZ's secondary assist on the first goal out there in his defense, it was actually a bank off the boards right to Bryce Salvador. Luckily the Devils defender turned his body sideways and missed it, allowing Kreider to streak in and take control. The kid then fed the puck back to Girardi, and Dan-O threaded his shot though traffic - two Devils skaters and Derek Stepan.
*Step was a soldier in this one, recovering from one painful-looking shot block in the first period on Kovalchuk. He has just one goal in his last 20 games but he has been doing the little things that help the team win. While he did not experience a sophomore slump this season - he actually increased his point total - the former Badger went through small stretches of invisibility. Once he puts everything together consistently, he will be one hell of a player.
*Really question if two of the Rangers' regular warriors Cally and Prust are battling injuries. Given the wear and tear they suffered this season, it would be no surprise. They are working as hard as ever but the level of play is not at the high standard they have set. Luckily Hagelin and Fedotenko have stepped in to lead the forecheck in their place.
*Hockey fans in New York must really feel that this series is something special, because there were far fewer Devil fans at MSG than usual. Most of those that were there were sadly subjected to scathing belittling and berating. Just because these people have no taste in hockey teams (and likely suffer from some sort of mental disability) doesn't mean they should be called, pardon me for repeating, "pussies and faggots." The part-timers and bandwagoners need to learn that they should have some class, they aren't from Philadelphia. We are New York Ranger fans, Original Six diehards and have the nobility to go with the history.
*That being said, the crass, classic "Uncle Daddy" chant right at the start of the night was fantastic.
*Anyone see David Clarkson? Did he go back to the minor leagues?
*And on that topic, yes the Rangers won and yes they did not need him tonight but I still missed Sean Avery. Well, more than usual. He and the injured Dubinsky always brought a snarl to the rivalry games that was absent last evening.
*It was nice to see Arty and Kreider click, but they had better be prepared for the physical assault that is surely coming. The Devils gave the kids a lot of room and DeBoar will certainly stop that going forward.
*Vince Vaughn hanging out at the game? He jumped on the Blackhawk bandwagon, will he now move to the Blueshirt one?
*PHW Three Stars
3-Ryan McDonagh - very good defense.
2-Dan Girardi - one goal and one assist.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 21 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Staal and McD - Third star gets split between the two because they were both solid on both sides of the ice. They, along with Girardi, did quite well in keeping Kovy and Elias quiet.
2-Hank - Sure he made just 21 saves thanks to the Blueshirts blocking 26 more shots but of those 21 at least 10 were really solid saves. The crowd in front is a help as well as a hinderance and yet he still came through to pitch the clean sheet.
1-Girardi - An undrafted free agent, the best defenseman in these NHL playoffs. Saw him with the HNIC towel after the game, which must have been a dream come true for him - well deserved.