"I said to you guys who aren't used to covering hockey or watching playoffs a lot: the most important part of the playoffs are goaltending, special teams, how your top players play. So just do it, right?" --Darryl Sutter, May 20th
Well, the Rangers got it done in Game 3 against the Devils with two of the three. Hank was his sovereign self with 36 saves - mostly tough ones - and the special teams came through with a power play goal and five kills. As for that last part, well, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richard$ had largely forgettable afternoons. So there's that left to do.
The game as a whole was, as everyone was readily pointing out afterwards, a mirror of the series opener: atrocious open, middling middle and exciting end. Girardi scored, then Kreider, then someone added an empty net, and then thousands of Ranger fans went home happy.
*The Devils' act is getting old. Zubrus did it last round, Volchenkov did it yesterday. Go down, act like you've been bludgeoned and pray for a big call. Then get right back on the ice because you weren't actually injured at all. New Jersey's OHL coach is making his players act like children, whining and crying over every little thing and the sad part is that it is working. And DeBoer's ludicrous claim that Prust was headhunting? Who in their right mind would go after Anton Volchenkov of all people? Especially when he has been the Devils worst defenseman these playoffs. But it must be said that DeBoer's tactics have worked, as Prust has been suspended for one game ... by a man who owes the start and the end of NHL career to the New Jersey franchise. What a farce.
*How is it that this Kreider kid knows more about scoring from the tough areas then his older teammates? He slides through the crease and scores while Boyle and the other guys continue to play on the outskirts. Buzz around Brodeur and things happen. They have to pretend they are bees going after a picnic meal, which should be easy because Brodeur probably smells like sandwiches.
*Heard various stories about fights going on around the arena but there were none in the sections around me (118). Saw one going on downstairs in the third period that was quickly diffused with the Ranger fan, of course, being the one getting tossed.
*Do Devils fans know any words aside from 'sucks'? That seemed to be the insult of choice of the Jersey Mensans. It was so cute that they figured out how to spell their team's name - that's progress for the New Jersey public school systems.
*Loved participating in the Mmmmaaarrrtttyyyy chants, especially the one after the empty net goal. That was just rubbing it in, which is delicious.
*Brad Richard$ stupid interference penalty with four minutes left gave the Devils a golden chance to get back into the game and they came inches away from doing it, ringing a puck off the iron. All season long the Blueshirts have talked about being more disciplined and yet they took some horrid, unacceptable penalties.
*Mike Rupp took one, of course, because how else can he prove to his family that he is actually playing in this series? He can't skate, he can't stickhandle, he won't fight ... really, what's the point? He has the size, he showed he has a shot back in the Winter Classic (and that hat trick he scored against us), and yet he bounces around doing nothing.
*Steve Eminger actually looked better than expected, for his six minutes of ice time.
*Sorry, I don't pay as much credence to Torts' time out as the turnaround point, there was no sudden injection of energy or anything like that. The team that came out for the third period was different than the one that did for the first two.
*Fedotenko continued to be one of the most valuable Rangers of the playoffs, grinding, hitting, working the puck out of trouble areas. It was his work that led to Cally grabbing the empty net, just the usual soldier stuff from the Ukrainian. That's what you're paid for Braden.
*PHW Three Stars
3-Martin Brodeur - 19 saves.
2-Dan Girardi - one goal.
1-Henrik Lundqvist - 36 saves.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3-Kreider - So, working around the net is a good thing?
2-McDonagh/Girardi - Offense, defense, whatever. Just hope that they can survive all of these minutes ...
1-Hank - Yep. Again.