Who Wins the 2014 Stanley Cup?

New York Rangers

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Ranger Review 11/4/2013
The Blueshirts’ inconsistent play leaves fans stunned


F, B, B+, A, D... what's next?


F, B, B+, A, D... what's next?

10/28/2013 Home Opener – F
Despite the awful start on the road, the casual quip was “well, at least we’re undefeated at home”. Well that ended officially after 60 minutes. This team played as casual as one could be and it showed on the score board. The fans who shelled out $130+ for a ticket were treated to a shellacking that left them stunned. For some reasons, the Rangers cannot score a single goal on Canadiens. Seriously. However, when one shoots directly at the ugly C/H combo logo, it is easy for the Canadien goaltender to make the save. And easy is now I would describe Peter Budaj’s night. The lack of traffic in front of him was appalling. Out of the 27 shots he stopped, 2 required any sort of skill.
The Rangers were not the only bums on the ice tonight. And I hate this complaint, I really, really do, but the officiating was downright criminal. Everyone knows that Brian Boyle never uses his size to his advantage. But when a Canadien threw himself on Boyle, Boyle was called for interference which led to the first and game winning goal. Kreider was the victim of being on the ice when two Canadiens collided with each other, so he was sent to the box. And the most egregious blown call was the kicked-in goal that was deemed a good call. It was kicked in. There is no other way around it. Galchenyuk extended his leg to angle his skate to push the puck into the net. That is a kick. The only excuse would be that Galchenyuk is a worm and worms do not have the legs required to make a kicking motion. And while I would have to agree with both points, they do not apply.
Not that it matters in the end since the Rangers could not slip a puck past PETER BUDAJ – who should start working on his Vezina acceptance speech. The team looked tired and/or bored with playing. Despite the bounces and officiating going against them, a good team would be able to fight back. This team was not a good team tonight. The Rangers now have as many wins (3) as they have been shut out (3). That’s terrible.


 

 

10/29/2013 First Islanders Game – B
A win is a win. And a win in regulation against a divisional opponent is a little bit better. And of course, a regulation win against the Islanders in the Nassau Mausoleum is one of the best types of wins you can come across. After this game, my Dad called to tell me that the Rangers have the best backup goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist. Cam Talbot played a great game. The two goals he let in – a wrister over his glove but just beneath the bar and a puck that went off him and off Girardi and in – were hardly on him.  This team came out looking bored. But the Rangers/Islanders rivalry might have been the boost they needed. While they had no real sustained pressure in the offensive zone at first, they came to life on the power play. I just want everyone to re-read that last sentence. This team came alive due to a power play goal. Their PP has been one of the few highlights of this season. It has not always converted, but they are getting good chances. The Richards shot from the point was tipped by Kreider who got his own rebound and slammed it home.  But, all the chances in the world do not mean anything until you convert. After a dominating three minutes of play in the offensive zone, the Islanders tied the game up with their first shot in the second period. The rest of the period was an intense back and forth that kept fans on the edge of their seats and probably had the coaches pulling out their hair. The last Islander goal is just one of those hockey plays gone wrong. Talbot deflects a puck with his glove into his goaltender and in. We all cheered that Jonathon Quick’s stick deflected McDonagh’s 180 foot shot and in; now it is our turn to feel that sting.
But, as I alluded to against the Canadiens, this team got lousy bounces and fought back. They tied it up on the power play with a McDonagh bomb. The game went back to hectic play until a beauty give and go play between Pouliot and Hagelin (in his first game of the season), led to Pouliot burying the puck and the game. Once they had the lead, this team bunkered down and Talbot shut the door. I am also impressed that they were able to keep the tandem of Vanek (in his first game as an Islander) and Taveres off the board. This team’s top D-men are finally starting to get their dominance back. It was a gutsy yet sloppy win.


 

10/31/2013 – Buffalo – B+
I am a big fan of “statement wins”. It does not make sense, but I enjoy the idea that a specific win is more important than any other victory. This game, however, would have been a statement loss. A loss to the worst team in the league (possibly ever) at home would have been essentially the white flag.
But, alas, this team rose to the occasion. Lundqvist stopped all 29 shots that came his way to earn his second shutout of the season (and just his third win). The Ranger peppered American-hero Ryan Miller with 49 shots on goal. 49. From the New York Rangers. It is still a little jarring that out of 49, only 2 went in. But this team did their job and got their first home victory. I liked seeing their power play convert again. Plus, Brassard has been showing signs of being a little inconsistent, so getting him rolling would be tremendous. He sniped the puck from the hash marks. JT Miller was eclipsing Ryan Miller and the Buffalo net minder had no chance. It was a great play and I am glad JT Miller got an assist on the play. Also, Chris Kreider has been an absolute beast since being recalled. He has been fast, tough, and taking shots from anywhere on the ice. His goal tonight was a perfect example. He fires from a short angle, banks it off of Miller’s back and in. It is not pretty, but when you are in the basement of the league in Goals For, anything will do.
Lundqvist was fantastic. He looked like his old self. He was head butting the puck away and making fantastic stops. He seemed confident and looked as if he was not trying to do everything. He kept his game simple and stopped everything.
And finally, Matts Zuccarello (who won the first star) has improved his all-around game. He received a primary assist on the Kreider insurance goal, but was a force on the ice. For such a small player, AV has had him in crucial situations. He is on the ice on the power play and the penalty kill; he is logging big minutes; and has been extremely good in his own zone.
This was a good win against a team they had to beat.


 

11/2/2013 – Carolina – A
Going into this game, I wondered which streak seemed more farfetched: This New York Rangers squad could win 3 in a row or that Carolina would lose 4 in a row. Thankfully the Staal brothers experiment has proven to be a failure and the Rangers came out victorious after a strong performance by Lundqvist and Stepan. The Rangers came out looking like a team that did not want to win. Most of the first period was played in the Rangers zone and Lundqvist stood on his team to keep his team in it. The shots were 7-2 when Hagelin, in his second game of the season, whipped a backhander past Peters. It started when Richards made a great pass out of his own zone and then the brilliant passing between Pouliot and Hagelin led to the scoring opportunity. The top two lines of Hagelin – Richards – Pouliot and Zuccorello – Stepan – Kreider have been outstanding on this run the Rangers have been on. After the goal, these two lines went to work but were unable to convert. The Rangers also had a difficult time staying out of the box. Carolina plays a very tough game and has the knack of keeping the puck in the zone for a long time, this leads to a lot of chippy penalties. However, after killing one early in the second, Hagelin was sprung from the box. Pyatt cleared the puck down and Peters had a tough time handling it. Hagelin swooped in and buried his second of the game and season.
Once again, the Rangers power play converted. And finally, Derek Stepan got on the board. Stepan came in with a piano on his back. He has not scored a goal after inking the bridge deal and made Sather look brilliant for not giving him the mood during the off season. But he finally got going and would put up three goals on the night for his second career hat trick. It’s about freakin time. With Nash and Callahan out, Stepan needs to be the superstar his agent thinks he is.
The Cannes broke Lundqvist’s shutout bid with a power play goal. Sekera from the point tipped off Strahlman and in. Lundqvist never saw it and it is a shame because he played so well and deserved better. The reason Carolina was on the power play came from an interesting narrative. Ryan Murphy torpedoed Derek Dorsett when Dorsett was breaking into the Carolina zone. Murphy was penalized for “clipping”. The next time Dorsett had the opportunity; he ran at Murphy and received two minutes for elbowing. It was dumb and selfish and ultimately pointless. Murphy would be fined the maximum by the league for the clip, but Dorsett’s boneheaded play led the Carolina goal.
This gave Carolina life as the third period started similar to the first. Lundqvist was beyond solid and never gave anything up.
Stepan’s second and third goals came from the hard work of his line. First, Kreider made a hit and stole the puck from the Hurricanes in their own zone. He dished it to Zuccorello behind the net. Zucc made a no-look, behind the back pass to Stepan. Stepan wasted no time and snipped it far side. It was beautiful.
The hat trick goal came from some luck. Again, Kreider and Zuccorello got the assists and Stepan banked it off of a Carolina player and in. This sealed the hat trick and the victory for the good guys.


 

11/4/2013 – Revenge of the Ducks – D

Last time the Rangers faced the Ducks, they were in the habit of being embarrassed. And they put up nothing in front of the Ducks in a 6-0 loss. Well, this is a new team. Kind of. A lot of hemming and hawing went into the Rangers three-game win streak. Yes, they won 3 games and could be turning into the team we thought they would be. But they beat the Islanders, the Sabres, and the Hurricanes. Not exactly the elite (and the fact that the Islanders are the best team on that list illustrates how weak the streak is). But, you can only beat the teams the schedule gives you.
In what was one of the less exciting games this season, the Rangers lost to the Ducks 2-1. It’s less than 6-0… so… improvement? The day started with learning that the Captain would be returning into the lineup. Then we learned that Miller would be scratched which left us scratch our heads. It took two and a half minutes for the Ducks to get on the board when Perry was left all alone in front of the net to take three whacks at a sprawled out Lundqvist and eventually popped it in. This all started with a terrible McDonaugh play (passing it cross ice in front of the Ranger’s net) that led to a turn over. The next turnover was Richards carelessly passing the puck up ice. This led to an odd man rush and the puck behind Lundqvist. Uncharacteristically, Lundqvist gave up 2 goals on 5 shots. The rest of the period was a snoozer. There were a lot of icings and stoppages of play. The Ducks seemed content to smother the puck for the next 45 minutes and walk out with a win. Which they essentially did.
The only sign of life is when Michael Del-Zotto (remember him?) scored his first of the season late in the second period. With bedlam in front the Ducks’ goaltender, DZ was able to finally put the Rangers on the board. This was one of the few times the Rangers would be able to create any sort of chaos in the Ducks zone.
They still had a whole period to go to get something, anything going. Alas, they slept through the last period. In fact, a quarter of the first period went by before the Rangers had a shot on goal. 5 minutes. I have seen this team kill five minute penalties and get a shot off. Down by one, at home, twenty minutes to go, there was plenty of time. Plus they even had a power play! But this team looked defeated. The last period was boring and infuriating. With four minutes left, the Rangers had a chance when Getzlaf went off for slashing. A minute later, Pouliot went off for high sticking. Then! The Rangers were caught with too many men on the ice. They had 6 players on while they were shorthanded. How does that even happen?
I can’t be too critical. As of now, the Ducks sit atop the league. They are a deep team. The Rangers are not. They had the opportunities though; but they just could not capitalize on them. Hopefully things go better when they face Pittsburgh next…

 

-Dan French

 

*Photo credit goes to theeconomiccollapseblog.com/

 

For more by Dan French, be sure to visit www.liftthepuck.com

Posted by Will Wagner | November 6, 2013 at 08:38 pm
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New York Rangers VS Los Angeles Kings
Friday, June 13, 2014

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 0 2 0 0 2
Kings 1 0 1 1 3








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