May 16, 2008

End Of Rangers Depression?

No, not until this season ends. Damn the Flyers for prolonging my misery. Anyway, while hockey continues to move forward the Rangers enter what should be a tumultuous off season. But before we move forward we must look back on the 2007-2008 New York Rangers team. There were a lot of moments to remember, some good, some bad. Overall, however, it is painfully clear that this season was a disappointment. 2 big off season free agents, a Vezina candidate, a collection of exciting young players and a superstar riding off into the sunset does not a second round playoff exit make.

Granted, the Rangers ran into a buzz saw. From Sidney Crosby all the way down to Georges Laraque the Penguins are a better team than the Rangers and should push the Red Wings hard for the Cup. This, however, does not erase my disappointment in this team. What went right? What went wrong? And what needs to happen this off season to make next years team Cup ready? These questions will all be answered over the next couple weeks with player-by-player evaluations and our thoughts on Glen Sather's off season schedule.

May 5, 2008

Thoughts on Pens Series

I know its a little late but I wanted to really give this series some serious thought. When I look at I realize that we lost to a better team. No matter how many games we outplayed the Pens, they were the better team. They were offensively sound, especially on the powerplay. Their powerplay was so amazing to watch, especially when we had to watch ours play like absolute garbage. I think that was one reason, one big reason, that we lost this series. They took advantage of their powerplays and when we needed a powerplay goal we could never get one.

We definitely outplayed the Pens in Game's 2 and 3 and should've won those games. Even Game 1 we should've won after having a 3-0 lead. None of that matters, it matters who wins the game and we only did that once. The Rangers definitely came ready to play but the result was not what any of us wanted. They played hard and physical and never gave up, which I absolutely loved but the better team used its skill to beat us. Some players stepped up and others really were almost invisible. Jagr came to play and tried to carry the team on his own. Henrik showed up and played some quality games but had a few falters that cost us. All in all we just didn't have the talent to beat a team like the Penguins. There is not much else to say but that. Now we end up with an early exit and a long offseason.

Now we just sit and wait to see what this team looks like next season. We have so many free agents and this offseason will be about signing them back up, not trying to land the biggest names like last year. Over the next few days I will cover what could happen in the offseason and how could be leaving and who we need to sign back to the team.

May 4, 2008

Game 5 - Post Game Thoughts

They got the bounce and won. The series and season is over. There is nothing else to say. Series and season wrap up coming up soon.

Game 5 - Third Period Thoughts

We saw what this team was made of. They came out as a different team in the third and especially after the goals. They dominated much of the third on both ends of the ice. Their offense was pressuring and their defense was completely shutting down the Pens. Each team that period relied on their goalies to keep it tied. Henrik saved us numerous times in the third and Fleury denied us the chance to end this game. Now we have to go to OT on the penalty kill and I don't know what to say. I am nervous but confident. The kill is obviously crucial and then we can try and score after that. I will basically be holding my breath until this game is over. Let's hope we can continue this series and our season.

Game 5 - Second Period Thoughts

That was absolutely miserable. It's like the Rangers forgot how to play hockey. They looked like they were lost on the ice and had no idea what to do. The Pens offensive unit, especially the powerplay, seems almost perfect. Their powerplay has been amazing moving the puck around and getting plenty of quality chances. If not for Henrik and the post then this game could be at least 4 if not 5-0.

The powerplay of the Rangers is the most disgusting thing on ice. They can't even set themselves up for a good chance. Even if we deserved a 4 minute powerplay when Drury got hit in the face and one when the refs called a penalty and decided against it, the powerplay can't score and can't even get shots. It’s disgusting and it is going to have to change or else we lose.

Rozsival is supposed to be the leader of this team and defense and he looks like a rookie playing his first NHL game. I don't think he has hit the net once this whole series and he has been committing some stupid penalties. The Malkin one was a good penalty to take but the other two were so bad. He is a veteran and our number one defensemen and he has to play like that in the third or else. Oh yea and it would be nice if he hit the net with shot just once. Actually it would be nice if the whole team could hit the net more than the glass.

The Rangers look down and absolutely horrible in the second period. They need to get their heads up and play some hockey. They are not out of this game. Its only 2 goals. The Sharks did it last night and won in overtime. We will truly see what this team is made of right now. One period for our entire season.

Game 5 - First Period Thoughts

A decent period by the Rangers, mainly because the score is tied. They once again missed out on their scoring opportunities, Nigel Dawes. He had the best chance of the game for either team and missed it. The first goal would've been huge especially that late in the period. Regardless, now the first goal becomes even more important after a dead-locked first. The Rangers need to hit the net more because Fleury isn't being tested that much.

I think the Rangers are playing shaky defensive hockey and allowing the Pens to get too many quality chances. The Pens, as we all know, are a good offensive team and if the Rangers keep giving them chances like they have so far, the Pens will put one home. The Rangers need to relax, play hockey and hit the damn net.

Game 5 - Pregame

With two teams already clinching spots in the Conference Finals, two teams are trying to fight back from 3-0. The Sharks have forced a Game 6 and the Rangers are trying to do the same this afternoon. This game is going to be exciting and at the same time very hard to watch. You can't help but be nervous but also feel confident after last game. The Rangers need to be physical today, Henrik needs to play just like last game and the offense needs to pepper Fleury with shots.

One lineup change, and that’s Orr is out and Korpikoski is making his NHL debut in one huge game. The only thing Orr did last game was try to take off Crosby’s head so its not like he contributed much. We'll see how it works out.

May 3, 2008

Why Can't We Play Tonight?

For some scheduling reason we must wait one more day to watch Game 5 and I hate it. Especially when I watch the Sharks fight for their playoff lives, just like us, and succeed in Game 5. Game 5 is going to be a lot different than Game 4. We will be on the road and have to prove that we found a way to beat the Pens more than once. The Pens should be fine coming off their first loss in the playoffs because its not like they never lost during the regular season. But I look to see if they are really focused in Game 5. All of the extra pushing and fighting that Malkin and Crosby and all the Pens did really gave me a good feeling. They are young players and they showed that they were off their game when they were down, being pushed around and not scoring goals. Crosby attacked Girardi after a clean hit and Malkin just got frustrated and attacked Mara. I have a feeling they haven't regained their composure yet and if we play physical against them again we could cause them to lose their cools. Maybe that is the secret to beating the Pens, playing physical to get them rattled. All I know is I can't wait for Game 5. Its going to be exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time.

More about Game 5 tomorrow...

May 2, 2008

Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr represents everything I love about the Rangers. The guy leaves everything he has out on the ice (when it matters) and at the very least the guy deserves at least one more game in the Garden.

It's nice to rally around Sean Avery but Jagr is the guy who will inspire. As much as I want him back next year, it will be his decision and my gut says he's going to Russia. These might be his last games on NHL ice and in a Rangers uniform and I could not be more proud that this guy is the captain of my team.

May 1, 2008

Game 4 - Post Game Thoughts

The Rangers will live to see another day. It wasn't an amazing game by the Rangers, but they did what they have to do to win the game. They needed Henrik to step up and he did. When the Rangers needed a goal, Jagr stepped up and put one home. When the Rangers needed a little padding on their lead, the powerplay stepped up and put one home. When the Rangers needed to hold onto the lead, the defense stepped up and shut them down. This was not the best game by the Rangers in the series by far but they did everything they needed to to win the game. Now we wait 2 days to play again for our season in what is going to be a difficult game in Pittsburgh.

One thing I saw that I want to mention is the Crosby and Malkin retaliation efforts. I am talking about the play where Girardi had a great, clean hit on Hossa and Crosby and Malkin decided to attack Girardi for no reason. That is not their game. They are goal scorers and play makers, not enforcers. That shows me that they are getting a little out of their game. They seemed to be getting frustrated towards the end of the game. Especially after the third goal where another scrum started and it was Malkin again. It could either be the Pens trying to be physical and show toughness or it could be the Pens getting frustrated and out of their game. I am hoping its the second option because that would be great for the Rangers. We will have to wait till Game 5 to see if the physical play is really getting to Pittsburgh. Now for some stars:

1) King Henrik - He was shaky during Game 3 and the talk before this game was Henrik had to step up if the Rangers wanted to not be eliminated. He did exactly that and more in this game. He played like a true King and is the reason we won this game. The Pens had their chances but Henrik would have none of it. He has to continue this play if we want to continue because you know the Pens are going to come out firing at home and trying to advance.

2) Jagr - He is our captain and in this series he has shown why he is graced with that title. He has played like a man possessed and on a mission to make sure his season and his teams season doesn't end just yet. He played strong tonight, attacking the net and giving up his body for a goal. There is not much more you can ask from your star and captain. He has to keep it up if we want to survive to another day.

3) Dubinsky - When the Rangers needed a larger lead, Brandon stepped up and put one home. That goal was huge for the Rangers. A one goal lead against a team like Pittsburgh is not comfortable. I said the Rangers needed to score early in the third to win this game and that’s what Dubinsky did and they won.

Now we move on to Game 5 in Pittsburgh. The Rangers need to step it up again. They will be in a tough environment against a team that is fired up and wants to end this series. Fleury was great tonight and the offense had their chances and we got some luck. Like I said before the Rangers didn't play a great game. They had bad penalties, dumb turnovers and missed opportunities. But they stepped up when it was most important and that’s what got us this win. The Rangers are going to have play smart hockey in Game 5 and limit the turnovers and penalties. Henrik is going to have to play exactly like he did tonight and the offense is going to have to capitalize on their chances. It's a damn shame we have to wait 2 days for the next game but we should be thankful there is another game. I still have hope and so should you. Anything can happen and we just have to keep on praying and hope the Rangers can step it up and bring it back to MSG for Game 6.