|Fleury? Shanahan? Pyatt? 14 Wins to Go!|
Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. As always, check out the right hand of the site for the archives, live tweets and all that other good stuff. In the life advice department, don’t drink & drive, don’t cough & fart at the same time, try the black pea soup at the Bold O’Donoghues, and always, and I mean ALWAYS, wish for AIDS on Sidney Crosby!
After one of the worst games of the season on Saturday night, the Rangers on Monday night, rebounded and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2-1, to advance 2-1 in the best of 7 series. If one thing has been evident in these last three games, it is the fact that were are already in the thick of the playoffs.
For sixty minutes, the Rangers & Penguins played a tight defensive game. The Rangers would score goals off of opportunities created by the defense. With a 2-0 lead late in the third, the Penguins were more aggressive, as the Rangers settled with two men back at all times. The stress level, for both teams and their fanbases were at an all-time high for the final 5 minutes of the game.
There are many ways to start this blog, when trying to recap this game. Like building a team, let’s start from the goalies, then move out.
|Fleury vs Lundqvist|
On one side of the equation, you have a Stanley Cup winner, but a man known to be shaky in the playoffs, in Penguins netminder, Marc-Andre Fleury. On the other side of the ice, you have the crownless “King”, but sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, in Henrik Lundqvist. After 180 minutes of hockey, I would consider Fleury the MVP of this series, despite the 1-2 record. Fleury has just been dominant this series and has faced much more work than his counterpart.
Lundqvist, who had a bad game 2, has only allowed one goal in games 1 & 3. You can argue he hasn’t been tested much in those games, but when he has, he has come up big. Ranger fans expected Hank to be in tip-top shape for the playoffs and while game 2 was disappointing, the whole team was disappointing in that game. For Fleury, many fans expected him to fall apart in the playoffs, as that has been the reputation he’s deserved in recent years. Instead, he’s having one of the best series of his career.
Lundqvist finished with 23 saves on 24 shots, while Fleury finished with 24 saves on 26 shots. Fleury was great throughout the game, where Lundqvist was really only tested in the third period. In fact, the Penguins only mustered up 11 shots through the first two periods, before rallying for 13 shots in the third. While Fleury was great throughout the game, Lundqvist was able to put on a spectacular performance in the third period to preserve the win. Of course, after the Penguins did score a goal in the third, Lundqvist threw his usual hissy-fit. It’s just bad body language and he always allows everyone on the ice to know that he’s rattled.
|Webster Dictionary definition of a cunt|
Sidney Crosby. We all know the deal. I’ve written about it before. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already. He’s just a bitch. He’s protected by the NHL. This was another one of those games where he got away with anything and everything. From headlocking people, to elbowing Lundqvist in the head, to embellishing, to diving to cross-checking people in front of referees, Crosby got away with murder tonight.
Coach AV said it after the game and I said it during the game, the referees should be questioned. It was horrible officiating. If I’m the Rangers, I ask for new referees and call out the NHL for the crap that went on tonight. While the Rangers did win the game, it was in spite of the referees. Not only is Crosby protected and you can’t hit him, but he’s allowed to do anything. Penguin fans will say that Lundqvist may have embellished the elbow to the head, but the fact of the matter is that HE WAS ELBOWED IN THE HEAD!!!! CALL THE FUCKING PENALTY!
What really makes things bad is that Crosby is a great hockey player. He doesn’t need to play dirty. However he does. The refs don’t seem to mind. I would like to see the NHL’s explanation, especially with that cross check in the third period, right in front of the linesman, on why that wasn’t called.
On the Rangers side, you look to someone like Tanner Glass to just knock that prick out. Fact is, if anyone hits Crosby, it will be a Bertuzzi-esque suspension. The Rangers need to really clean hit this guy. I mean just find Crosby with his head down with the puck and just steam roll him. You don’t want to condone the Rangers playing dirty, but Crosby’s performance tonight was just another one of his classic cunt shows. The Rangers aren’t the first team to experience this and won’t be the last. Maybe when McDavid gets in the league, the NHL will get off Crosby’s dick and evaluate him just like anyone else in the league.
Ok, now that’s out of my system for a bit, let’s talk the game itself. Game 3 was a pure defensive battle. As mentioned, the Penguins only had 11 shots through 40 minutes of hockey. For people who weren’t fans of either team, this game may have been boring a bit, but if you like defensive battles, this was the game for you.
The Rangers completely dominated the first two periods. While they dominated and owned the puck, they also didn’t do much with it. They did just enough to win, drop two men back on defense for the whole third period, relied on Hank to make big saves and got the win. Will this work in future games against the Penguins? As long as the Penguins can’t get settled in their own zone again, the Rangers have a great game plan drawn up.
The two goals the Rangers got past Fleury were because of opportunities created by their stellar defense. McDonagh and Girardi don’t get enough credit. Not only are they shutting Crosby and Malkin down, they are advancing the puck. Yandle also deserves some credit too, as his offense gave the Rangers a boost.
Carl Hagelin, the fastest skater on the ice, got the first goal of the game. Everything worked for the Rangers. The Rangers caught the Penguins in a shift change, as Yandle bombed a pass to a streaking Hagelin. Hagelin beat all the defenders and had Fleury one-on-one. Hags, going at what seemed 200 MPH, slammed the puck past Fleury at 8:43 in the first period. For Ranger fans, it was a sigh of relief goal and a 1-0 lead. A lead the Rangers would take into the second period.
What concerned you, which has been a concern a lot this season, was the Rangers powerplay. Of course they did nothing with it and it felt like the Penguins had more short-handed shots than the Rangers had PP shots. It really is amazing how bad the Rangers are on the PP. At times, you wonder if the Penguins take penalties to slow down the Rangers potent 5vs5 offense, compared to their anemic powerplay game.
I watched this game at the “Flying Puck” of Nassau County, the infamous Bold O’Donoghues with my girlfriend, my favorite bartender/friend Margaret, my neighbor/friend Tommy and of course, the infamous JEFFREY. As soon as JEFFREY said that Chris Kreider had been quiet (MSG networks flashed a graphic that he only had one hit in the series), Kreider got the Rangers second goal at 11:07 in the second period. It would prove to be the game winner.
Oh and if you’re asking, after my JEFFREY story in my last blog, JEFFREY had his fits of frustration, as his hat went flying at the TV a few times! I love to break JEFFREY’s balls for his craziness, but there is no one I would rather watch the games with – I love the passion. He looks like he threw up after a crazy rollercoaster after every game, win or lose!
Kreider scored his first goal of this year’s playoffs, on what looked like a set play. Staal passed the puck off the boards, Kreider grabbed the puck and beat Fleury. 2-0 Rangers.
I’m not here to defend Fleury, but I thought he played really well, with both Rangers goals coming off hard work and getting great work out of their defense.
Fleury was able to stop a myraid of other Ranger attempts. No one looked more nervous in front of Fleury than Kevin Hayes, who needs to realize the stuff that worked for him in the regular season will work in the playoffs. He looks very tentative to shoot and indecisive out there. Ditto for Zuccarello. At least Yandle has stepped up, offensively, for the Rangers.
Bottom line, shoot the puck, hope for a deflection, rebound or that you just beat the goalie. Dumping off to your teammate or making a wild pass, rarely works. In these 180 minutes, we’ve seen some great defensive games from both teams. Shots are at a premium, which means goals aren’t coming all day long. Even on the Penguins side of things, they overpassed way too much, and in the end, it resulted with a piss-poor shot production result through the first 40 minutes. Fire the puck home!
|Fast had a great final 5 minutes|
With the Rangers up 2-0 after two periods, Ranger fans still couldn’t breathe easy. It was constant clock watching. The Rangers played what looked like an NFL prevent defense in the third period. They might’ve as well taken a knee. The Penguins outshot the Rangers by a wide margin in the third. Lundqvist was forced to earn his money. The Rangers did keep their D-men back, which hurt their offense, as they protected the two goal lead.
Eventually, the Penguins, more aggressive than ever, found a goal from Patric Hornqvist. I’m a Talbot guy, but I’ll tell you, this wasn’t on Hank. The Penguins just fired away, moved the puck and found the net. In another NFL reference, I felt the Rangers were happy to give up the FG, as long as they didn’t give up the TD. If they had to sacrifice one goal to win the game, they were fine with that.
Hornqvist’s goal came with 6 minutes and change on the clock. The goal occurred with the Rangres fourth line on the ice. With the crowd revitalized, my asshole clenched, the Penguins continued the offensive surge, as the Rangers played the race against the clock.
In what was a common occurrence all season, the Rangers once again found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, but they got it done. The Rangers speed showed up, and it held the Penguins from pulling Fleury when they wanted to. Jesper Fast was a big part of that.
No saves were bigger than the ones Hank made in the final minute. Hank made a beautiful sprawled out save on Lovejoy, to prevent the game from being tied, with under a minute to go. A faceoff in the Penguins offensive zone, with 13 seconds to go was nerve wracking for Ranger fans, but the team came up big and made sure no goals were scored. As a result, the Rangers “escaped” with a win, rather than giving Pittsburgh a beating.
Of course, in what has been customary in these 2015 NHL playoffs, there was a post-game scrum. No one will be punished, naturally. It’s kind of weird how the NHL will allow a bunch of cheap shit after every playoff game. However, I’m sure if someone cheap-shotted Crosby during this time, someone would be suspended.
I am a diehard sports fan as you know by now. However, I can’t remember another NHL season with such questionable and shoddy officiating, league-wide in recent memory. It really is embarrassing.
|LET’S GO RANGERS|
With the win, the Rangers are half-way done with Pittsburgh and are 14 long wins from the Cup. I’ll call myself out too here, I don’t think anyone expected this series to be as tight (all one-goal games) and as nerve-wracking as it has been. I know I expected the Rangers to steam roll right through the Penguins. It’s not really an insult to Pittsburgh, I just thought the Rangers were much stronger than last year and the Penguins were much weaker than last year, considering the injuries they have. I still expect the Rangers to win the series, but the Penguins are putting up a huge fight.
For the Rangers, the PP needs to get better. A lot better. It is disgusting right now. For the NHL, they need to start treating Crosby like he’s anyone else. I don’t expect the Rangers to score PP goals if Crosby was penalized like anyone else, but at least it will take two minutes off the clock!
Despite the defensive displays we saw tonight, both goalies got some luck and made strong saves. Fleury got lucky that Hayes didn’t decide to shoot on him during a breakaway while robbing Nash. For Lundqvist, he got lucky by a Crosby post, but also shunned Crosby in front of the net too.
I don’t want to get too far ahead, but an eventual match-up with the Islanders is looming. If anything the Rangers are playing tight and close hockey games. Perhaps not having a walk-in-the-park series with the Pens is a good thing, as bigger things are hopefully on tap.
On the Rangers front, I am glad to hear that JOHN AMIRANTE will be back. I don’t know what the hell is going on there. Only the Rangers know why they would try to force him out. It’s not like he’s bad or anything. I’m more surprised to hear the Rangers National Anthem singer is 80 years old. That’s one hell of a hair dye job.
On the ice, the Rangers aren’t practicing tomorrow, which means that Klein, who is near-ready, might not play game 4. Hunwick hasn’t been bad or anything, but Klein is a definitely a boost for the team. I would need to check where he’s at now, but at one point, before the injury, Klein led the league in game winning goals for defensemen.
If there are any points you take out of tonight’s blog, let it be this – Crosby is a cunt, great defense from both teams and we are experiencing intense playoff hockey.
I’ll be back Thursday to look at Game 4. Until then…
LET’S GO RANGERS
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter machine