A New Ballgame

For a few minutes last night, the Rangers seemed poised to take absolute control of this series. Chris Kreider made a beautiful tip in to give New York a 2-1 lead and you could feel the momentum tipping heavily in their favor.  But, New Jersey had some deflection magic of their own and they tied and then went ahead on two magnificent goals. The Rangers had some chances after that, but they couldn’t get the equalizer and now they head to New Jersey with things tied at 1.

I can’t claim to be surprised by this event.  After all, apart from winning Game 6 and Game 7 against Ottawa, the Rangers have not had back-to-back wins in the playoffs.  They have won the first game of all three series and then lost the second. So, you could say last night was just a continuation of a frustrating pattern.  That pattern has still resulted in the Rangers advancing, but there are some things to worry about in this series.

First and foremost, the Rangers have been pathetic at even strength.  They have one goal in 120 minutes of hockey this round and they had only 34 goals total in the 16 games they have played. At least the power play is working this round, but those are some bleak numbers.

Second, they look spent physically.  This doesn’t surprise me as they have essentially played a game every other night for the past month, but it is a troubling trend.  John Tortorella is starting to remind me of Joe Torre in the way he uses his defensemen.  Torre only had a few relievers that he trusted and he worked them to death in the playoffs.  Torts has only a few defensemen he trusts and it looked like all those minutes on the ice were affecting Girardi and McDonaugh last night.  I’m not saying Stu Bickel is anything great, but Torts has to give some of these guys a rest.

Martin Brodeur looks as good as usual, much better than he did in the regular season. On a side note, watch Brodeur when he handles the puck, he is a master at it.  Henrik Lundqvist is a great goalie, but he is terrible at that skill.  It’s a subtle difference, but can lead to odd-man rushes when Brodeur makes a quick pass out of his zone.

I’m not saying the Rangers can’t win this series, but they need to control Game 3 and they need an easy game.  In 16 games they have had to fight and claw for everything.  Even Game 1 of this series wasn’t really decided until the final few minutes.  You won’t have a blow out in the playoffs, but the Rangers have had a multiple-goal lead only a handful of times in 16 games.  That is taking a toll on the players and it is up to Torts to figure out how to manage that.  He can keep riding the same guys, but he risks burning them out.

Oh, and if they survive the Devils, they will probably have to face a Kings squad that has walked through the playoffs so far and may have the hottest goalie on the planet.  But, that’s something to worry about at another date.

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  • blmeanie  On May 17, 2012 at 11:19 am

    at least they have the power play working, just need to get the penalties called more often

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