Game 76 Recap: Rangers 5 Oilers 0

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The Rangers recovered from their brief hiccup in Calgary with a dominating performance up the road in Edmonton.
After blowing a five game win streak against the lowly Flames, the Blueshirts pasted the Oilers in a 5-0 blanking.

Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello scored two goals apiece (including one shortie each) and Derick Brassard notched the other in the easy Cam Talbot shutout. The Rangers backup keeper made 26 saves and was in control and never really tested throughout the match.

The bounce-back win against the Oil was critical for the Rangers. After pissing away their win streak with a sloppy effort in Calgary on the first game of their 4 game swing, the Rangers needed a thumping to restore their good feeling, especially with just seven regular season games left on the schedule.

And thump, they did.

"I may disappear for games at a time, but when I score they usually come in bunches!"

“I may disappear for games at a time, but when I score they usually come in bunches!”

At 16:30 Mats Zuccarello went to the net and re-directed an Anton Stralman point shot by Ben Scrivens to give the Rangers the early lead and the only offense they would need on the night. The goal was reviewed by Toronto but ruled a good goal and not a high stick mostly because Zucc is 4’8″ and can’t physically direct the puck with a high stick.
The stingy New York defense held the high octane Oiler offense to three measly shots and the NYR closed the period up 1-0.

In the second, the Rangers offense struck oil – sorry had to! Derick Brassard finished one on the power play off a pass from The Oslo Magician™ and Rick Nash buried two. Both, coming from Derek Stepan with the second one a shorthanded tally. Zucc added his own shortie in the third (also from Stepan) and the Rangers cruised to a 5-0 whitewash.

Talbot, who was never really challenged, turned aside all 26 shots sent his way en route to his third shutout of the season. The twenty-six year old has been a godsend for the NYR and gives the Blueshirts a viable option (sorry, Martin Biron, Steve Valliquette, Kevin Weekes, and Alex Auld) when Hank gets his much needed rest. And, unlike in the past, if Hank (God forbid) gets hurt, the Rangers might not have to pack in the season.

Another bright spot on the night was Rick Nash. Sixtyone is a goal scorer and goal scorers score in bunches. They get hot and they get cold. But with the pair against Edmonton, Nasher now has 25 on the season. That is a pretty solid season for a goal scorer who looked to be out for the season after his early concussion.

The win was big for the Blueshirts who seem to be back on track made even bigger with the playoffs just a handful of games away.

Torts and Vancouver up next with a return to the old home barn for Alain Vigneault.
Allons-y Rangers!

This is about as tough as it got for Talbot.

This is about as tough as it got for Talbot.

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Game 75 Recap: Flames 4 Rangers 3

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Riding a five game win streak, the Rangers started their western swing with a lousy game against a lousy team, the already-eliminated Calgary Flames. In a crazy contest, the Rangers played as if they expected to be handed two points just for showing up. But points aren’t given out like participation trophies in the National League and the Blueshirts squandered two should-have points against a far inferior club.

Joe Colborne scored and early power play goal for the Flames and then late in period the Blueshirts defense decided to part like the Red Sea for Mark Giordano. The Flames captain took the puck and skated untouched through the Ranger zone, waltzing in alone on Henrik Lundqvist and easily flipping a shot over the Rangers goalie to double the Flames lead.

The NYR pulled up their bootstraps and blitzed the Flames early in the second. The Rangers scored 3 quick goals in just over 3 minutes and suddenly had a lead on Calgary. The scorching-hot fourth line continued their net-crashing play and big (and soft) Brian Boyle went to the net and tapped in an empty net rebound of his empty net tap-in try to bring the Rangers to within one. Then 39 seconds later Raphael Diaz threw one on net from the point that pinballed off like 17 people efore finding it’s way past Kari Rammo and the game was tied. A few minutes later, Broadway Brad Richards sniped a wrister over Rammo and just like that the NYR had a 3-2 lead and appeared poised to run away with the match.

msl-interview

Buttt…

The Flames fourth line crashed the cage and had their way with the Rangers defense in Hank’s crease with Kevin Westgarth eventually banging the puck home to tie the game at 3-3. Worst of all and possibly in an effort to match his teams lackluster play, Lundqvist let in a softie. With eight seconds left in the frame, Mike Cammalleri sped down the wing and sent a shot on Hank that seemed to go through him on the way to the net. The lousy goal that Hank should have had put the Flames up 4-3 as the period ended.

In the third it was more of the same, the Rangers threw a bunch of perimeter shots at Rammo and the MSG announcers (as if scripted by James Dolan) told Rangerstown™ who great the Flames goalie was playing. The Blueshirts did earn their only power play in the third, but it was as sloppy an effort as the rest of the game.

This was a game the Rangers should have had. Their big line, bookended by Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis was invisible yet again. St. Louis is a Hall of Fame player. He has found success in the NHL when it was nearly impossile for little guys to play in the league. He will, at some point, find his game, but in his first 13 games with the New York Rangers he has been fucking terrible. St. Louis, who has been angling for a trade to the Rangers for years, has finally gotten his wish and must find his game. We are sure that he will, but so far, this has been an ugly experience.

The Rangers take on another eliminated club with nothing to lose when they head up the road to Edmonton to battle the offensively gifted Oilers.

Let’s hope this wet fart in Cowtown was a hiccup and not a virus.

Let’s go Rangers!

Well, that sucked.

Well, that sucked.

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Game 74 Recap: Rangers 3 Flyers 1

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In a game of humongous proportions, the Rangers hosted their orange and black neighbors to the south. The Rivalry Night matchup between the two clubs separated by the slimmest of margins (a single point) had huge playoff and seeding implications. The big physical Flyers had played their best hockey of the year in March, and the Rangers were on a four game winning streak.

And the Rangers, led by their fourth line and goaltender got a dominating victory over the Flyers.

Henrik Lundqvist played a stellar first period, stopping all 15 Philly shots, and it looked like he wouldn’t be beat on this night. The Rangers only mustered 6 shots in the initial frame, but one of them was a Derek Dorsett net-crashing goal. Brian Boyle threw a shot on net and DD powered into Steve Mason’s crease (go to the net, get the cookie!)and banged home his own rebound to give the NYR the early lead.

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A little over five minutes into the second, Ryan McDonagh picked up an errant Flyer pass inside the Philly blue line and cruised to the top of the circle, sniping a snapshot glove-side high to give the NYR all the offense they would need. McDonagh whose game has been ascending all season now has 14 goals and has placed himself squarely in the Norris Trophy conversation. Free of the stifling shackles of John Tortorella, McD who was already one of the top shutdown D in the league (right Alex Ovechkin?) is now exploding offensively.

Seven minutes into the third Dominic Moore redirected a Kevin Kline shot past Mason and the Rangers were sailing to a shutout. But on a four on four, Claude Giroux won a faceoff clean to Jacob Voracek and the big winger cannoned a one-timer over Hank’s shoulder to spoil the shutout.

Careful McD, he'll hack your glove off and then go after your hand!

Careful McD, he’ll hack your glove off and then go after your hand!

The Blueshirts closed out the match, but the game got stupid in the closing seconds, when the Flyers went all Philly on the Rangers. On a scrum in front of Hank with three seconds left, Wayne Simmonds slashed McDonagh on the hand/wrist knocking off his glove. McD, with his hand now exposed, gave Simmonds a push and the Flyers winger two-hand slashed at McDonagh’s bare hand, clearly attempting to injure the Ranger’s best player.

Wayne Simmonds is an excellent player, he plays hard, scores goals and comes to the aid of his teammates whenever necessary. The New York Rangers have no players like that. Any team in the NHl would love to have Simmonds on their roster, but what he did at the end of the game was total chicken shit and a dirty play, clearly attempting to injure the NYR’s top player. Sadly, and as we have been crying about all season, the Rangers have no one like Simmonds to answer someone like Simmonds. This is a huge weakness for the Blueshirts and the Flyers know it and the rest of the NHL, especially the Boston Bruins know it. As good as Hank is, and he is the best in the World, he may not be enough in a short series, if teams are having their way physically with the Rangers.

The Rangers start a Western swing without Chris Kreider and his broken hand in Calgary.
Let’s make it six in a row!
Let’s go Rangers!

Heave-Ho, Five in a row!

Heave-Ho, Five in a row!

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Game 73 Recap: Rangers 4 Coyotes 3 (OT)

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Fresh off a three game road winning streak, the New York Rangers hosted the Phoenix Coyotes at the World’s Most Famous and battled back to earn their biggest win of the season.

After a long-ish ceremony to honor Henrik Lundqvist becoming the franchise’s all time wins and shutouts leader, the Bluehsirts burst out to a lousy start. Sluggish and sleepwalking through their shifts after watching Hank get rightfully lauded by Mike Richter and Eddie Giacomin, the Rangers went down early.

872 NY wins right there.

872 NY wins right there.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson sniped one high on Hank just four minutes in and just four minutes after that, Jeff Halpern (yep, that guy!) doubled the Yotes lead. Down 2-0 early in the second and looking as flat as a a very flat thing, playing in a silent MSG, the Rangers got a good shift from Carl Hagelin. Hags, skated the puck along the blue line and threw a shot on net that Brad Richards (we’re just as shocked as you are!) tipped by Mike Smith. A few shifts later, Ryan McDonagh and Mats Zuccarello worked the puck to Derick Brassard and D-Brass pounced on a rebound of his own shot and snapped the tying goal by Smith. The Brassard tally enlivened the sleeping Garden crowd and the game went from snoozefest to a thrilling match.

But the Blueshirts caught a bad break when a streaking Kyle Chipchura threw a pass across the crease that Chris Kreider hustled back to breakup, but instead, tipped it into his own net. The late in the second Phoenix goal could have been a back-breaker for the NYR, but the Blueshirts didn’t fold.

The Rangers blitzed the Coyotes in the third, outshooting the Phoenix club 12-4. However, they caught another break when Derek Morris pushed Brassard on top of Smith in the goal crease. With 7:34 to go, Brass fell with all his weight directly on the right knee of the Smith and as the big Phoenix keeper writhed in pain on the ice, a very cold Thomas Greiss entered the match.

Turning point.

Turning point.

The NYR pounced on the backup netminder and when Ryan McDonagh fired a shot on net, Dan Girardi crashed the cage and deftly redirected the puck past Greiss tying the game at 3-3. Girardi’s equalizer with 3:28 left sent the crowd (and the Blueshirts) into a frenzy.

The Rangers continued their pressure in the final minutes of regulation and despite not scoring, carried the momentum into OT.

The OT was short-lived because under two minutes in, Girardi blasted a shot on net and the rebound came to McDonagh wide open in the slot for the easy put back winner.

The Legend of McD grows!

The Legend of McD grows!

The McD goal gave the Rangers their fourth win in a row on an emotional night. McDonagh with a goal and two apples was outstanding throughout as was his partner Girardi. The boys in lue were hard on the puck and all over the net, crashing the crease all night. Carl Hagelin was the best forward on the team, and on a night when Martin St. Louis and Derek Stepan were both hobbled by the flu, Brad Richards had a big game.

Lundqvist also had a terrific game and the suddenly hot Rangers are now riding a sneaky four game winning streak.

With nine games remaining, the Flyers come to town Wednesday for a ginormous matchup.
Let’s go Rangers!

Get through the enemy's goal With all your heart and your soul; That's the Rangers' Victory Song!

Get through the enemy’s goal
With all your heart and your soul;
That’s the Rangers’ Victory Song!

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Game 72 Recap: Rangers 2 Devils 0

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Twenty-four hours after their emotional win in Columbus, the Rangers faced the Devils in a critical Brick City matchup.

Feeding off the victory, the Blueshirts smothered New Jersey in a dominating defensive effort and held the Devils to 11 shots through two periods.

The Rangers got the only goal they needed on a line rush by their first line when they crashed the net. Derek Stepan fired a shot on net that Chris Kreider tipped. As CK crashed the net, he grazed Martin Brodeur and the puck skittered into the corner where Rick Nash zipped a shot into a tiny opening over Brodeur’s shoulder and into the net. The seeing-eye goal, coming halfway through the match was more than enough for Hank.

On yet another record breaking night for Lundqvist, the King was in complete control throughout, making his best save on a Jaromir Jagr breakaway in the first and stopping all 21 Devils shots for the goose egg. The shoutout, Lundqvist’s 50th in a Ranger sweater vaulted Hank past Hall of Famer Eddie Giacomin for most all time for the NYR.

Jagr, still one of the top players in the game. Good thing Sather let him walk 6 years ago. Thanks again, Glen!

Jagr, still one of the top players in the game. Good thing Sather let him walk 6 years ago. Thanks again, Glen!

The action picked up in the third and the Devils turned up their play a bit, but the Rangers defense and Lundqvist shut down everything the Devils threw at them.

Derek Stepan added a late empty net goal for the Blueshirts in the closing minutes to ice the contest and give the Rangers two very important points and their third road win in a row. The game that had a playoff feel (for the Rangers at least) continued the Blueshirts road mastery and with 10 games left, they’ll have to transfer that mastery to home ice if they are going to make the playoffs.

Next up Mike Smith and the Yotes at MSG.
Let’s go Rangers!

Give him an inch...

Give him an inch…

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Game 71 Recap: Rangers 3 Blue Jackets 1

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The Rangers ventured to central Ohio for a crucial game against the Blue Jackets. With the two clubs tied in the standings at 78 points, the game had huge playoff implications and both clubs played the game like a playoff game. The game was a grinding, tough, and nasty match.

The Rangers found some life, found some goals and most importantly, found something that has been missing all season. Their balls.

The Blueshirts showed more grit in this game than they have shown all season. Benoit Pouliot dropped the gloves with Derek MacKenzie and Rick Nash battled all game with Sergei Bobrovsky. Nash broke in on Bob late in the second and with Jack Johnson hanging on his back made a power move to the net grazing the Columbus goalie as the puck crossed the line. Perhaps because of the contact with goalie (caused by Johnson,) the referee vehemently and immediately waived and off the goal. As Nash went to pick up his stick off the ice, Bobrovsky slapped it away from him. And that is when the Rangers found their balls. Possibly angered by the Bobrovsky slash to the back of his leg in the first, or the attempted trip between periods, Nash reached a boiling point. He gave Bobrovsky a quick two fisted jab to the chest/neck and a scrum ensued. Chris Kreider (who played with snarl all night) tossed Artem Anisimov around like a rag doll (poor Artie!) and Dan Girardi showed his lack of nastiness while Nash wrestled with Johnson.

Balls. Everywhere.

Balls. Everywhere.

The bit of nastiness seemed to enliven the NYR and tick off the BJ’s. Just 12 ticks in to the scoreless final frame, the Blue Jackets came after Nash, and the big guy stood up for himself. Nash threw several bombs at Matt Calvert and won a fight, that was sure to pump up his team mates.

But just 60 seconds later, Pouliot made a horrible giveaway. With light Columbus forecheck pressure in the NYR zone, Pouliot tired making a back pass for some strange reason and as his stick snapped he gave the puck directly to a wide-open Nick Foligno in the high slot. Foligno wired a bullet over Henri Lundqvist to give the BJS a 1-0 lead.

44 seconds later, Ryan McDonagh circled around the Columbus net and found Derek Stepan in the slot and D-Step tied the game at 1-1. Then Rangers kept working and got a grinding goal. Moving the puck below the BJ’s goal line, Derick Brassard too a pass from Anton Stralman and banked the puck off Bobrovsky and in from behind the net.

Carl Hagelin chipped in an empty-netter and the pumped up Blueshirts had a huge emotional win. The crucial victory gave them two more points in the playoff hunt and allowed them to leap-frog Columbus. More importantly, with under a dozen games remaining, the Rangers played with heart and with emotion. As Dave Maloney kept saying on MSG, they played angry. Hank was excellent and the NYR hustled and they fought and most importantly of all, they found their balls. They still don’t have any physical answers for the tougher teams, but they stood up for themselves and that builds chemistry, which is huge.

Back at in in NJ on Saturday.

Let’s go Rangers!

FIRED UP!

FIRED UP!

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Game 70 Recap: Rangers 8 Senators 4

Portrait of a group of business people laughing against white ba

The Rangers played one of the strangest games in recent NYR memory and they won. In a bizarre slopfest of a hockey game, the Blueshirts hung a snowman on the hapless Ottawa Senators. The incredible 8 goal outburst masked the fact that the NYR played almost no defense in front of their goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, who made several clutch saves en route to his record breaking win. With the victory, Lundqvist’s 302 wins for the NYR, the King has now passed Mike Richter as the winningest goalie in Rangers history.

But again, the New York Rangers scored eight goals! Eight goals in a game, not in a week. In a game!

Mike Hoffman got the Sens on the board 6:57 into the first. Then Rick Nash (yes, that Rick Nash, the superstar who has been more invisible than visible with the NYR) scored with a low-blocker snapshot on a short handed breakaway to tie the game just 65 seconds later.

Henrik Lundqvist

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Game 69 Recap: Sharks 1 Rangers 0

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The Sharks scored a goal and the Rangers didn’t. The end.

The Sharks are a very good club. They have balanced scoring, defense and goaltending. But the Rangers have Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Martin St. Louis, three NHL “superstars” with more than enough pedigree (and money) to muster a single goal on home ice. But in their 4 pm tilt with San Jose at MSG, they mustered nothing.

Wasting an excellent performance by Henrik Lundqvist, who gave up a single Logan Couture shorthanded breakaway goal at 11:48 of the first, the Rangers fired 41 shots at Anti Neimi. 41 Petr Nedved-style perimeter shots. Ryan McDonagh got robbed on the doorstep, mostly by Marc Edouard-Vlasic and Carl Hagelin scored on a wrap-around that Niemi scooted out of the net. It should have been a goal and drove NYR-conspiracy theorists (who blame anything and anyone but the NYR for their woes) nuts, but video never actually showed the puck over the goal line, just squirting out from inside the net. So while Toronto could assume the puck crossed the line, their was no video evidence showing it and they made the right call.

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Hags, non-goal aside, the Blueshirts didn’t score. Good teams score. Good teams don’t get blanked on home ice. Good teams find chemistry. St. Louis, now seven games and zero goals into his NYR tenure has been mercifully moved away from B-Rich, his good buddy and former running mate in Tampa. Chemistry-killer Richards (wasn’t he known as a good passer before he came to NYC?) is now a 6.7 million dollar third line center. He couldn’t play with Marian Gaborik, Nash, or St. Louis and now runs with Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot. St. Louis looks all sorts of flustered. HE’s a great player and will find his game, but he is a Ranger now, so history dictates that he will likely post well-below career averages on Broadway. And Nash, the former Rocket Richard winner is often more invisible than visible, scoring 11 of his 20 goals in an 11 game stretch. Nash, who doesn’t posess a slapshot in his arsenal, or at least has never shown a slapshot, has been hovering around the perimeter Nedved-style of late. The big winger who scores most of his goals from just around the paint has been avoiding the paint like it has the measles. The three Ranger superstars, the ones who are supposed to carry the load for the Blueshirts have done nothing. Glen Sather who gave away his first round picks over the next two seasons, has wrought this on the NYR faithful. A soft team, with aging superstars who don’t produce like superstars, with very little in the system and no draft picks coming for a while, that is built to (barely) make the playoffs and get abused by tougher more physical teams.

The Rangers have 13 games left to make the playoffs. 26 possible points. The season, once again, is slipping away and the Blueshirts will have to find some ind of scoring to make the post season. It’s getting late and it’s getting ugly.

For the love of God, let’s go Rangers!

glens-boys

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Game 68 Recap: Rangers 4 Jets 2

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The slumping Rangers headed to the loudest building in the league to take on the Atlanta Thrashers Winnipeg Jets. Desperate for points, the Rangers got an early goal from Carl Hagelin and then got two more from the pretty Swede to beat the J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!

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Game 67 Recap: Wild 2 Rangers 1

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Awful. Just plain awful.

After their wet fart of a game in Carolina, the Rangers travelled to Minnesota to take on the North Stars Wild. Hoping to get back on track, the Blueshirts played a listless, unemotional uninspired game.

With Cam Talbot in net for the resting Henrik Lundqvist, the Blueshirts played a dispassionate and disinterested first period (and second and third.) They fired a whopping seven shots on Darcy Kuemper and found themselves down a goal at 13:08 on a sloppy miscue. Behind their own goal line, with the Wild applying pressure on the forecheck, Rick Nash had his pocket picked by Kyle Brodziak. The Minnesota forward stole the puck from Nash and slid it to a wide open Nino Niederreiter in the slot, who buried it for the 1-0 lead.

Um, yeah.

Um, yeah.

The Rangers managed to tie the game (in another seven shot second period) on the power play. With Chris Kreider screening Kuemper, Derek Stepan snapped a bullet over the Wild’s suddenly unbeatable goaltender. Tied at 1-1, the NYR meandered through the middle frame and headed to the third deadlocked.

At that point, despite how flat they had played, the Rangers found themselves with a chance to steal a game they had no business winning. Good teams and teams desperate for points in the playoff hunt dig deep and win those close games. But the Rangers decided to hang their goaltender out to dry.

Just sixty-three seconds into the final frame, the Blueshirts generously let Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund, take 400 whacks at a loose puck in front of Talbot while Anton Stralman, Marc Staal, and the forward trio of car Hagelin, Stepan and Nash stood idly by. It was actually four untouched whacks before Parise eventually buried the puck for the game winner.

"Didn't you guys see the Vancouver Olympics? You can't leave me alone to whack away in front like that!"

“Didn’t you guys see the Vancouver Olympics? You can’t leave me alone to whack away in front like that!”

The NYR got a late power play chance but they couldn’t find any chemistry on the PP and they lost. They fired 16 (mostly perimeter) shots at Keumpfer who, as is the NYR custom, was made to look like an unbeatable superstar.

Again.

Martin St. Louis has found ZERO chemistry with his old buddy Brad Richards. St. Louis, who has one measly point in his short tenure in New York has been unfortunately saddled with Broadway Brad and can’t get anything going. Richards, the former superstar center, who couldn’t mesh with Marian Gaborik and then couldn’t mesh with Nash, and now can’t mesh with his old liney is once-again becoming the 2012-13 Brad Richards. St. Louis will score and he will produce. He just needs to get the hell away from B-Rich.

The Rangers are in trouble, they are still (barely) in a playoff spot but with 15 games left, time and points are running out.

Right back at it tomorrow in Winnipeg.
Let’s go Rangers!

D-Keump. The greatest goalie since Dryden!

D-Keump. The greatest goalie since Dryden!

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