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Archive for May, 2012

Success

Posted by inferno272 on May 28th, 2012

I’ll be on tomorrow, or in the next few days with a more complete postmortem, but I wanted to give you a little info on my day, etc.

First, I had a full 19 hour day on Saturday with wedding related stuff to do for a family member who got married up north, then I spent 15 hours driving back home today, including an hour changing a punctured tire on I95. After I got home I watched the entire game. I’m clearly exhausted. But, I felt it was important to say this before I really delve into this team, this season, and what we need to do going forward.

This season was a resounding success.

This was a team built to be a 4-8 seed. This was a team built not for this year, but for 2-3 years from now. This was a team who overachieved by such a massive amount it hid from our eyes the glaring faults this team has. No power play, no heavy shooter to fear, very offensively challenged in terms of creativity and puck possession, etc. They masked it with grit, determination, passion, and hard work. For that I salute them. I love this team. I love the way they played. I love the heart they showed, and I think the future is INCREDIBLY bright for this club going forward.

I also think, that changes are going to have to be made. They don’t need much. But they do have needs.

I will detail everything in the next few days after I catch up with work. I’m also moving next week so if the full writeup isn’t up in a few weeks it’s just because I’ve been overwhelmed with work.

Keep the faith people, I firmly believe this team will challenge for a cup within the next few years.

Short – Devils @ Rangers Game 5 Post Game Thoughts…

Posted by inferno272 on May 24th, 2012

This one is going to be extremely short. I just finished watching the game…its 1:30 am, and I’m going to have to wake up at 5am to drive 14 hours up north to go to a cousins wedding. Which means I will also be missing game 6 and (hopefully) game 7. I’ll be DVRing them so I’ll post wrapups after I watch them both (hopefully).

On this game, well. The Rangers started off poorly AGAIN. This time it was mental rather than physical. They tried hard, but played DUMB. Gionta all alone in front of the net? Really? Unlucky with Anisimov kicking in a puck, and on and on it went. They showed some guts roaring back to tie the game, but they didn’t play well enough to start and dug themselves a huge hole. Who knows what happens if that Callahan shot goes in. Too bad, Rangers played hard, just not smart.

Also, you have to talk about Henrik. He wasn’t good tonight. He let 5 goals get past him, 1 was called back due to a high stick, but those shots all beat him. Henrik doesn’t give up 5 goals in a game very often, especially when he doesn’t see all that many shots. Let’s face it. We usually win this if Henrik is on.

OK, I’m sorry for the abruptness, but I have to try to get a few hours of sleep before trekking across the country. Here’s hoping I will come back on Monday to a Rangers Stanley Cup appearance.

Hideous – Rangers @ Devils Game 4 Post Game Thoughts…

Posted by inferno272 on May 22nd, 2012

Complete and utter failure by the Rangers tonight. That is it. They flat out didn’t come to play. Henrik was bad. The D was bad. The forwards were bad…..and it wasn’t just that they were bad, there was NO effort there tonight. None. Kreider looked lazy, Gaborik looked lazy, Ryan Frikkin Callahan looked lazy. The guys looked like they couldn’t give a rats ass about burying the devils into a 3-1 hole. Like they can only play hard when their backs are up against the wall. Why the hell does this team have to play like crap in put-away type games? It’s as if the “cushion” of having the lead takes them off the hook from playing a good hard game. Last series, game 6, they played like garbage…tonight was worse. WAY worse. This wasn’t being tired, this was guys just not TRYING out there.

Does that make anyone else sick?

The worst part was the Rangers resorting to being douchebag goons to try to turn the series around. It didn’t work for the Flyers, it won’t work for us. What will work is some effing work ethic. Where the hell did this teams balls go? They look like a bunch of scared pansies who are ready to get their offseason golf game going. It’s horrendous to see this type of effort in such a crucial game at this time of the year.

I’m going to say this one more time. Where the hell has Ryan Callahan been? Seriously. He scored an empty netter…great. What the hell else has he done in these playoffs? If he’s hurt, he needs to sit. I don’t see the energy. I don’t see the heart. I don’t see the effort. I don’t see Ryan Frikkin Callahan. I’m looking at Chris Drury right now instead of our real captain. A guy who doesn’t do much else besides kill penalties. I was so used to seeing Cally be the first guy in on the forecheck. Punshing guys WAY bigger than him with hit after hit after hit. A guy forcing turnovers with his speed, doing whatever it takes to win. Right now he’s playing about as well as Ruslan Fedotenko has these playoffs. Seriously. Only difference between the 2 right now is how much ice time Cally has gotten. I’ve been really quiet on the Captain, but it’s time to take off the gloves. You need your leaders to be your leaders. I don’t need Cally to score a goal a game. What I do need is to see him TRY harder. A LOT harder. I need to see him punish people with hits. He’s been below average at absolute best in the playoffs. You want to make it to the Stanley Cup? You better get a helluva lot more effort from your captain than what we’ve seen thus far. Feel free to call out Gabby, feel free to call out Richards. But it’s gotta start with the guy with the C on his chest. Cally has been tremendous for this team, usually when he’s not scoring he’s doing everything else to jump start this team. Thus far, I’ve seen NOTHING.

Im so disgusted, I need to go kill something in Diablo 3 before my blood pressure gets too high.

Let’s be clear on this. The Rangers were flat out dominated for the vast majority of this game. Even the 3rd period, where we scored 3 goals, I felt like the Devils probably had the better scoring chances than we did. There is only 1 reason we won this game. His name is Henrik Lundqvist.

This game was VERY reminiscent to some of the games the Rangers played against the Capitals during the playoffs a few years ago when we went up 3 games to 1 only to lose that series. Why? Because one can argue that the Rangers have been BADLY outplayed in 7 of the 9 periods of hockey played in this series, and somehow hold a 2 games to 1 advantage, and nearly could be up 3 games to zip. This has the makings of a very dangerous series so far. Why? Because they ARE being outplayed, and yet, somehow, they are winning games. We’ve seen the Rangers clock strike 12 a few times like that, where eventually the worm turns, Henrik can’t single handedly win them games, and they get blasted out of the water.

The Rangers need to start playing games like they did in in the final periods of games 1 and 3 FOR 60 EFFING MINUTES. I gave them a break on being tired for game 2, and to a degree in game 1. But let’s call a spade a spade here. The Rangers are within 2 wins of going to the first cup finals in nearly twenty years….that’s right folks, it’s almost been 20 years since they were in the Stanley Cup Finals…1994 is a looooong time ago. You want to have a chance to win the cup? You need to raise your compete level a whole hell of a lot. Tired? Sure, who isn’t. But it’s time for these guys to shake off that tired, to catch their 2nd….3rd….28th wind….whatever it takes. They need to start moving their feet. Everyone needs to follow in the footsteps of the top 2 left wingers who are the only 2 guys who seem to be consistently active in the offensive zone with their tenacious play.

I’m getting sick of seeing the Rangers running around in their own zone for period after period. Do the Devils deserve some of the credit? Absolutely. They have a good team. I said it before this series started, the Devils are a damn good team, who play a strong offensive game. So what? Can you honestly say the Rangers have played as hard, and have had the required compete level this series? I sure as hell can not. It’s tough to tear into a team that’s so close to the ultimate prize, but I’ve long been a believer that good plays leads to wins, and poor play leads to losses. Right now, barring another god-like performance by the King, the Rangers are not too far off from getting a few losses. It’s time to man up, pay the piper, and start winning some battles.

Let’s go, Game 4 is on Monday, I want to see a 5-0 demolishing, not another 3-0 win that completely disguises the fact that the team was outplayed in nearly all facets of the game sans goaltending.

I know everyone is going to be focused on the benching/poor play of Marian Gaborik tonight. I know people are going to be lauding the great play of the Devils. But truth be told, to me the Rangers just looked like a tired team. A team that had played the maximum amount of games till this point (and going forward till this series is over), and a team that needed a few days off. The Rangers looked tired. I know Torts wants us all to believe that this isn’t a tired team, but I’m not buying it. The sheer amount, and style of hockey the Rangers play makes it nigh impossible to be fresh. Devils looked just a step quicker for most of the game and the Rangers couldn’t get their legs going except for a 10-15 minute stretch in the 2nd, mostly due to the play of Chris Kreider. Outside of that, the Rangers just looked like they had an empty tank.

Because of that, I’m going the team a pass tonight. I know nobody wants to hear it. I know everyone is going to be irate, jumping off of cliffs, blah blah blah. Personally, I saw a team with zero left in the tank, and only lose by 1 goal thanks to 2 deflection goals. Rangers *could* have won this one tonight, despite driving on fumes.

Forget about it. Rest up. Come back on Saturday with a more Ranger like effort.

That’s all. Nothing more to be said guys. Go do something fun with your family, and believe in this team. We’ve won every series after losing game 2. This is no different. I’m not worried, neither you should be.

The Rangers probably played one of their weaker games this playoffs for the bulk of this game. They still won, and they still deserved to win. Why? Because they were willing to pay the price. To sacrifice their bodies to cover their mistakes. To do whatever it took to keep the puck out. No matter the cost, they were going to give it everything to win the game. Mentally, they were all over the place. Poor reads, poor decision making, poor passes, but the effort level was there.

I don’t think it was a result of the Devils play either. Their forecheck is nothing the Rangers are unfamiliar with, nor is it something that should scare the hell out of them. It is what it is. The big difference tonight was the Rangers mentally. They weren’t sharp. But, like I said before, they were willing to pay the price to win games.

So, despite playing a so-so game, the Rangers came out with a 3-0 win, that probably should have been 4-0 if not for a miraculous save by Uncle Daddy on Marc Staal. Why? Because the Rangers are not the Flyers, and the Devils are not that Capitals. I said it before this series started. This is a good matchup for the Rangers compared to those 2 teams. The Devils system is going to give the Rangers some chances to put some goals in. Their holes are highly exploitable. Start with the goaltending. Sure, Brodeur made 1 incredible save. He also made an excellent stop on MDZ earlier in the game when he came way out. But he also misplayed 2 pucks due to the Rangers pressure, and both of the goals he gave up were fairly soft. Girardis shot wasn’t exactly a bomb. I’m not sure if he was screened on the shot, he didn’t seem to act like he was, he just wasn’t in the position to make the stop if the shot was to the far post, which it was. The Kreider goal…a wrister from above the top of the circles? You have to stop that shot. Kreider has a wicked had shot with a Gaborik-esque release, but still, a goalie this deep in the playoffs needs to stop that shot. Brodeur didn’t come up with the saves they needed, Henrik did, and we’re sitting pretty up 1-0.

It wasn’t all roses though. The Rangers played a stupid game at times, their passes up the middle, personified by Girardis boneheaded turnover leading to almost 2 full minutes of pressure by the Devils killed them frequently. As did their inability to clear pucks up high and off the boards. The Devils deserve some credit there, but the Rangers have gameplanned those types of plays, they should know exactly where the relief valve is. Usually it’s the high slot with your center, if he’s taken away, and the boards are taken away, you should eat the puck and try to win a board battle. Rangers tried to force pucks through people all night, and it didn’t work. Their penalty kill, while good at times, seemed to, again, lose people in the high slot. Same place where Ovechkin scored in game 6. Devils didn’t make the Rangers pay, but you could see those plays open up for several seconds, then close back down. Rangers need to be more cognizant of that.

Henrik Lundqvist was brilliant tonight. His agility was a thing to behold on the trio of saves he had on Zach Parise, as well as going side to side to flat out rob Kovalchuk. Henrik Lundqvist is not Clemmenson. Henrik Lundqvist is not Theodore. Henrik Lundqvist is not Bryzgalov. Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world right now. That’s a difference maker folks.

It doesn’t hurt to have a guy like Ryan McDonagh back there either. How many other defenseman with his size and strength can catch Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk on breakaways when Dan Girardi makes horrendous reads?

OK, That’s all for now. See you all on Wednesday!

Rangers VS Devils Series Preview….

Posted by inferno272 on May 14th, 2012

I hate the New Jersey Devils. I’m just going to start it right there. I hate them. I hate them with every fiber of my being. Everytime I see Uncle Daddy, I feel like stepping into my TV and punching him in his fat face just to see how long his chin wobbles before it stops.

I hate them. But, they are a very good team. I picked them to beat the Flyers, despite how much is sickened me. I picked them to beat the Panthers, which also sickened me but was obviously the easiest series to pick in the NHL, despite how close it ended up being. The Devils play a very good aggressive forechecking game. They are the Easts version of the Los Angeles Kings. They get 2 guys in deep, 1 hard on the guy with the puck, 1 hard on the primary outlet pass, and they hang the center near the secondary outlet pass. They force you to make great plays to get out of your zone. They are a very good team. But, we can beat them. Not only that, I’d say this is the first series where I would say we SHOULD beat them. This isn’t going to be a series I think will be a tossup and if things go our way we should walk away with a 7 game series win. I told you before the Senators series and before the Washington series that those series were bad matchups for us. It’s not about how the team finishes, how good they are, etc. It’s about how you match up against them. We don’t match up against the Capitals, or the Senators. I think we match up very favorably to the Devils. Let’s examine the different aspects.

1) Offensively/Defensively

Unquestionably the Devils have had the better offense this post season. But, how much of this is them, and how much of this is facing teams that don’t know what the word Defense really is? Florida allowed 24 more goals than they scored. They were the epitome of outscoring your mistakes. They had some good forwards, but let’s face it. They advanced in a weak division, and lucked out that the Caps were under turmoil when Boudreau was there, and were without Backstrom and Green for huge chunks of this season. The Panthers were the easiest out in the playoffs, and it took the Devils 7 very close games to oust them. Then you have the Flyers. What do you need to know about the Flyers? They gave up 4.33 Goals per Game in the first round. The ONLY reason they advanced was because Marc Andre Fleury had the single worst playoff by a goaltender that I have ever seen. MAF was probably worse than having a shooter tutor in net. The Flyers got nothing from Bryzgalov…I mean hell, their winning goal against him in the elimination game of their series, he pretty much shot into his own net. Tried to clear the puck, shot it off of Clarksons stick, and it’s in the back of his net. Bryzgalov was awful, and the D in front of him wasn’t much better. They couldn’t do anything. Despite all that, the Flyers, who were hemmed in their own zone for much of the series, didn’t really get blown out by the Devils, they simply couldn’t outscore their mistakes. So, are the Devils really an offensive juggernaut? They certainly do put a singular emphasis on the importance of controlling the game offensively. Or is their offensive success a function of the opponents they faced? This is almost exactly the same as the Rangers lack of offense. They couldn’t score to save their lives this postseason. The Penguins scored 26 goals in the first round of the playoffs, a total of 6 games. The Rangers have scored 29 goals in 14 playoff games. Think about that folks. But, how much of that is who they played against? The Rangers played an Ottawa team that controlled the puck and transitioned to offense off of a heavy neutral zone pressure game. They had the puck, and we didn’t. Furthermore, you have to say that Craig Anderson played a brilliant series. Say all you want about Holtby, but Anderson played 10 times better than Holtby did based on the sheer volume of spectacular saves that he made. Outside of 1 game against the Panthers (Overtime game they won) Uncle Daddy has not had a great playoff. He’s been steady, but far from spectacular. Holtby and Anderson have vastly outplayed the Devils opposition. Furthermore the very nature of the Rangers game, defense first, naturally pulls the scores down, particularly when the opposition tries to play the same way, like what happened against the Caps. Games are going to be low scoring affairs when neither team allows any shots and always protects against odd man rushes. On paper it looks like the Devils have a huge advantage, but in reality I’m not sure I buy the disparity being so ginormous. In the Regular season the Devils outscored the Rangers for the season by a grand total of 2 goals. Head to head, final scores, not counting shootouts add up to Rangers 14, Devils 11. 14 goals in 6 games for the Rangers, but only 11 in 6 for the Devils. Devils offense wasn’t so dominating.

2) Specialty Teams. HUGE advantage for the Devils. The Devils had one of the most dominating Penalty Kills in the history of the game this year, and also had a much better power play than the Rangers. Outside of a few disastrous games against the Panthers, more of the same has continued in these playoffs. If the Rangers are in the box significantly more than the Devils, I think you’re going to see a very bad outcome for the boys in blue. Rangers HAVE to play this series at even strength.

3) Coaching. Rangers get the edge here. Love Torts, he’s a winner, and he’s got the 4th youngest team in the NHL playing as a higher seed against the second oldest team in the NHL. Torts has this team believing, and has been here and done that. Deboer hasn’t proven a thing yet.

4) The X Factor. For the Devils, the X Factor is Clarkson. If the Rangers can control him, keep him from being an impact in this series by both his agitation and his goal scoring, they should roll. If they can’t this could be a very bad series for us. Secondly they have to keep Brodeur from impacting the game with his puck handling. Soft dump ins to the corners or hard and high dump ins to get the opposite side winger the puck. Uncle Daddy may be the most overrated goalie in history, but he’s definitely the best puck handling goalie I have ever seen in my life. For the Rangers, once again the 2 x-factors will be Carl Hagelin and Chris Kreider. The Rangers are going to need to get in hard after the Devils defenseman. That’s their weak points. Force those turnovers, and skate in hard on them. The Devils system gives you odd man chances throughout the game, the Rangers are going to need to finish on them.

The Prediction. I don’t want to get cocky and predict the Rangers in 5 or something, but that wouldn’t surprise me. Don’t get me wrong, I respect the hell out of the Devils, I just think we match up fairly favorably against them. I think Kovalchuk will keep this series close with his ability to score goals top corner. Rangers, again, in 7.

Before this series started, my prediction was, should the Caps decide to play the Rangers style of game the Rangers would take it in a close 7 game series. True to form, it was back and forth, 1 goal type games, that the Rangers were able to pull out. Granted, tonight probably should have been a 3-1 win with the Rangers inexplicably having a goal called off, but nonetheless, the Rangers are moving on to play the Devils. Wow. What a difference a few days make aye?

You have to give a TON of credit to John Tortorella. Let’s face it. This is a team that has overachieved by epic proportions all season long, and here they find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals, 4 wins away from a Stanley Cup appearance. Home ice in this one big time as they will likely have more fans in NJ than the Devils do, and a raucous Madison Square Garden. Should be awesome.

Getting back to the game at hand though, a few things stood out to me tonight. First and foremost, the top line continued it’s strong play, as the Hagelin-Richards-Gabby trio once again combined for a huge goal, and they generated chances all night. Both Gabby and Hagelin got assists on Del Zottos goal, and both Del Zotto and Hagelin got assists on Richards goal. Big time play by our top line…now if only we could get our other lines going.

Henrik Lundqvist, the first star of the game, and probably the MVP of the series (either Henrik or Richards…tough to single one out over the other) was once again brilliant in a do or die game. They had a stat earlier that when the Rangers have faced elimination (3 times so far) Henrik Lundqvists numbers are 3-0, an incredible 1.33 GAA and .948 save percentage. Holy Crap.

It should also be noted that Marc Staal….is back. Not sorta back. He’s 100% back. He played a dominating series in this one. He blew right past Girardi and McDonagh on our depth chart and reclaimed his spot as the Rangers top defenseman. Isn’t it an awesome problem to have when you have to argue with Ranger fans over which of your young stud defenseman is really the best, a 27 year old Girardi, a 25 year old Staal, or a 22 year old McDonagh…not to mention the game winner scored by a 21 year old Michael Del Zotto who has played like a top pair defenseman all season long. Man, what a defense that is.

This team has shown a hell of a lot of guts. Two of the three worst possible matchups for us in the first 2 rounds, and we picked up 2 gutsy wins. Another hard fought series awaits them. Preview coming sometime tomorrow. Night all!

In what was the most important game of the season till this point, the Rangers laid a colossal egg in Washington tonight. This was, unquestionably, the worst game the Rangers have played in these playoffs, and probably one of the worst games they’ve played all season long. Don’t let the 2-1 final score fool you. This was a 7-1 shellacking held in check by some outright brilliant goaltending by Henrik Lundqvist.

Henrik alone stands without blame. Everyone else, from Coach John Tortorella who made some very questionable lineup changes heading into this game, to Marian Gaborik who easily played his worst game of the series (playoffs?). This was an epic fail in a game the Rangers could have sealed the deal.

Instead, we have a club heading home to play the Caps where the Caps have played us very strong, and in do or die type games they tend to rise to the occasion on the road. This was not how we wanted to draw this up. Heading into this series I picked Rangers in 7 if the series was played tight checking, and that’s still what I think, but this could easily head the other way if the Rangers don’t show up with some frikkin heart on Saturday.

Let’s first start with Torts. I’m not placing the entire blame on him, nor should anyone. But I do question the line combinations. After the first line, the next 3 looked very head scratching to say the least. I get what he was trying to do with the Anisimov – Boyle – Callahan trio. Shut down Ovechkin. But Stepan with Prust and Fedotenko? Mitchell with Rupp and Kreider? Those 2 lines make zero sense at all. Personally, for game 7 I want to see this lineup.

Hagelin – Richards – Gaborik
Kreider – Stepan – Callahan
Anisimov – Boyle – Fedotenko
Leftovers

Let the 3rd line shut down AO, and play those other 2 lines against their checkers. Kreider needs to see more ice time in this game. He was good in the limited minutes he saw in game 6.

Derek Stepan needs to play with skill players. Putting him with guys like Prust and Feds is just plain stupid. You’re minimizing his talents by putting him with no thumb players. Stepan needs to play with Kreider. Period.

Ryan Callahan, however, has played some pretty mediocre hockey these playoffs, and in this series in particular. In short, he hasn’t been a difference maker. He hasn’t been the guy to go out and take over the game with a dominating shift of him throwing his body around and causing turnovers. Hell, look at Brad Richards miracle goal….Ryan Callahan actually quit on that play before Richards scored. Go watch the replay, Cally takes a little bump and just pulls back and does nothing. That’s not the Ryan Callahan I’m used to seeing. I’m used to seeing a guy who throws his little frame around like it’s a helluva lot bigger. One has to wonder if the captain is injured. I recall him blocking a shot, maybe it was late last series? Since then he hasn’t looked the same. The captain needs to show us something here on Saturday folks. Can’t have him be a spectator the way he’s been for much of this series.

OK, that’s all for now, I’m mad, you’re mad, we’re all mad. Let’s just decompress. We live to play another day. Win or lose, I am still incredibly proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this year. 1 more game to play…win it, and we move to the Eastern Conference Finals.

MIRACLE! – Capitals @ Rangers Game 5 Post Game Thoughts…

Posted by inferno272 on May 8th, 2012

Usually I have the full game highlights at the top, today I am going to put them at the bottom, so if you’re looking for them, just scroll down a bit. Why did I pick this particular highlight to put up there? It’s simple. Go ahead and watch the clip, but pay particular attention right at the 1:46 mark till about the 1:51 mark. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you down below.

Ok, did you see it? Did you see Brandon Prusts reaction to the Rangers scoring that goal? If you missed it, go ahead and watch the video again. And again. And again. One more time? Why do I want you to see that reaction? Because if you didn’t go absolutely shit-bonkers like Prust did right there, then you aren’t a Ranger fan.

Personally, I went berserk. Anyone within a 22 square mile radius of my house probably thought some insane person was going around screaming at the top of their lungs. Oh, and when Staal scored his goal? It was just as loud.

This was a tremendous comeback by the Rangers tonight. The stuff of legend quite frankly. The kind of win you talk about when you’re in your 70′s sitting on the front porch reminiscing about the good old days while making sure the neighborhood kids stay off your lawn. One of those wins that will make you smile for no apparent reason at random intervals in your life. This was 100 times more incredible than the triple overtime marathon the Rangers won earlier in the series. Why? Because the Caps were 6.6 seconds away from going up 3 games to 2 by winning a game they were BADLY outplayed in. Think about it. They were about to steal a win they had no business deserving. If you add the blocked shots category to the shots on goal and to the missed shots, the totals go like this. Rangers 78 attempted shots on goal, Capitals 35. More than a 2-1 ratio. The Rangers had some good quality chances, and they gave up some good quality chances, but the shot numbers tells you the most important part of the story. The Rangers controlled the puck. They dictated most of this game. The goals they gave up, were probably ones that Henrik should have had, particularly the Carlson goal which it looked like he flat out missed, again, just like he did with the Ovechkin goal last game.

This was a game we deserved to win.

Winning it the way we did though, has to put a dagger in the hearts of the Capitals. I don’t care how much mental fortitude you have, to lose a game like you did tonight, that’s going to kill a team. Can they come back from this? I suppose, but to me, if they do, it will be because the Rangers allowed them to. The Rangers can take this series in Washington by coming out with all cylinders firing, and controlling the play the way they did to start this game. They do that, and we’ll be heading to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Just win baby.