The score in this game was not indicative of how close the game was. Let’s face it, for large stretches of tonights game the Senators controlled the puck. This isn’t exactly surprising. As I mentioned in my series preview, the Sens have a good offense, the Rangers are going to have to weather those surges. You don’t make the playoffs in this day and age without being a pretty good team. The Sens have a fantastic offense. Give credit to the Rangers though, they were able to keep the majority of the scoring chances to the outside, and despite giving up 2 late goals, they played pretty well in their own zone especially when you factor in the sheer amount of time they had to defend.
It’s important to also note that the Rangers were VERY opportunistic tonight, putting home 4 goals on probably about 12 scoring chances. 33% is far higher than the Rangers usually do on a nightly basis, but that’s what happens when you face a team that doesn’t really play all that well in their own zone. Look no further than Sergei Gonchar who had one of the most miserable games by a defenseman I can remember in a good long while. What the hell was he doing just looking at Gaborik undressing Anderson? That was just one of many plays where the veteran was horrendously positioned in his own zone, leading to nearly all of the quality chances the Rangers had.
Give a lot of credit to the Rangers forwards who were all over Karlsson tonight. The kid didn’t get more than a step before someone was on him and in his face. Especially Dubinsky who seemed to make it his personal mission in this game to get on the obvious Norris winner.
The key to this game though, was the play of Henrik Lundqvist. There’s a reason he was chosen the #1 star tonight. He was outstanding. The 2 goals he gave up were not his fault, directly the result of blown coverages, the king had no chance. However he did make several spectacular saves including stopping Spezza on a partial breakaway, and getting himself in position on quite a few redirections. Henrik was on top of his game from the puck drop, and that was the key to the Rangers victory.
One thing that did disturb me was the complete and utter ineffectiveness of the power play. It looked like they weren’t even trying to score goals but rather kill the clock, and that just can’t be the attitude you have on a power play, no matter what. Their penalty killing may have been spectacular, but sooner or later the Rangers are going to need to win a playoff game on the back of their power play. They need to be a helluva lot better than this. A good power play doesn’t need to score all the time, but it should at least generate some shots and get your team some momentum. The Rangers best chances were on the back end of their very first power play, and even then those shots were all long ones without much chance of actually scoring sans a tip.
I felt, going into this series, the toughest game for the Rangers was going to be game 1. They won it, to me, this series has the very real chance of being pretty damn short right now. If the Rangers win on Saturday, the Sens might as well pack their bags for the summer.