I have to disagree with the selection of the 3 stars for the New York Ranger's 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in game 3. I would go with Henrik Lundqvist as my third star for keeping the Rangers in the game during the 2nd period, the second star goes to former Ranger coach Tom Renney after the Rangers blocked 28 shots of the Flyers (15 of the 18 dressed skaters blocked at least 1 shot) and the first star goes to the coach Alain Vigneault for keep this team together when they started to bend late in the first period.
Vigneault deserves credit for not benching Benoit Pouliot after a terrible stretch in the first period that almost cost the Rangers. While Ranger fans were on Facebook and Twitter looking to string Pouliout alive, the coach stayed with him (but with a post game warning about needing to play better) and did not change his lineup.
Yet it was keeping the Rangers from losing composure when the Flyers had scored to cut the Ranger lead to 2-1 that really deserves the standing ovation. Unlike game 1 when the Rangers melted down after the Flyers scored to get back in the game, Vigneault stuck with his team, kept them focused on the game plan even if it was stealing from the Renney/Tortorella textbook.
The Rangers kept their cool despite some really suspect officiating that led to questionable calls on Derek Dorsett and Dan Carcillo. They went after Ray Emery with bodies in his vision and shots from right in on him. Heck I have to eat crow for Alain Vigneault dressed Carcillo instead of JT Miller when I should have remembered my Ranger's history where they would get goals from the unlikest of players as they did when Carcillo scored that huge dagger goal after leaving the penalty box.
Tuesday night was about the team coming together and playing as a unit which you could see was frustrating the Flyers and led to the Rangers regaining home ice advantage. This was a win for the coach and his game plan.
Now let us hope the players got the message and remember to play like this on Friday night.
CLEARING THE AIR
Some people think I hate Rick Nash for the way I am always down on him but no that is not the case. What I want is to see the Rick Nash who scored 26 goals during the season. What I don't want to see is Nash playing a perimeter game as he has been prone to do during the playoffs.
I want to see him attack the net with his size and use it to create offense for his teammates. No sane team is going to let a 6'3 Rick Nash wander through the crease unguarded so he would be tying up a defender and opening up space for his linemates.
Case in point: Nash's shot that deflected off Emery's glove wound up right on the stick of Derek Stepan who cashed it in for the Ranger's first goal. Give me that Rick Nash any night instead of one who is firing easy shots towards the Flyer's net that are seen by the defense and Ray Emery making them easy to stop.
Yes Nash has 4 total assists in the 3 games but only one direct led to a goal and the Rangers need more than that from Nash if they are to go far in the playoffs.
The other thing that gets me is those who think it is OK that the Rangers have made the playoffs for 8 out of the last 9 years. For some they view that as some sort of badge of honor that says the Rangers are competitive. Others think it means the Rangers are contenders of some sort and on that I totally disagree.
I won't speak for anyone but myself here and that come every September when the team gathers for training camp, I want the team to have the goal of winning the Stanley Cup not just making the playoffs so they can play 1-2 rounds.
I think I have heard just about every possible excuse why people accept it when the Rangers aren't playing for the Cup. I don't care what other teams do, I care about the team named Rangers and I am tired of just 1 cup win in my 54 years of rooting for them.
With all the resources that the Rangers have why is demanding a legit annual cup contender such a bad idea? Yes you can call it unreasonable to expect that the Rangers play for the Cup every year but I say it is wrong if you don't demand more than one trip to the conferece finals since 1997.
Or are you satisfied watching the MSG Network trot out the highlights of the 1994 Cup win every June? Aren't you by now wanting some new highlights, a new parade down the Avenue of Champions or the sight of Rangers hoisting the Cup in the air?
I know I want it so how about you?