|How great is this picture?|
Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com! I can’t lie to you. This blog was going to be a very angry and rage-filled blog, full of four letter words and frustration. However, a win is a win, and in playoff hockey, wins are what it’s all about. Was tonight the ugliest win of the Rangers season? Maybe. However, it definitely was the most important.
No usual spiel to start this blog. You know the deal. Check the archives, twitter, search button, Bold O’Donoghues, blah blah blah. Let’s get right into it.
The Rangers defeated the Penguins on Wednesday night, 2-1, to advance to a 3-1 series lead. It was the fourth one goal differential game of the series. It was also the first OT game of the series. Game 5 will be played Friday, at MSG, where the Rangers will have their first of three cracks at closing this series out.
|Another successful prediction!|
As you probably know by now, Kevin Hayes won the game for the Rangers, three minutes into the OT period. While everyone knows me as the Talbot guy, as Talbot vs Hank is a bigger issue than Kevin Hayes vs anyone’s roster spot on this team, I’ve been tooting the horn of Kevin Hayes all season. In my NHL Playoff preview blog, with Joe DiLeo, I thought Hayes could be the Rangers Conn Smythe winner. Bold prediction? Perhaps? However, when the Rangers needed Hayes, he delivered here tonight.
Hayes has had a rough go around of it thus far. He has looked tentative with the puck and doesn’t seem to trust his game, in the playoffs, like he did in the regular season. Despite his large stature, he’s looked timid at times. However, in Game 4, a very important game for the Rangers, as they now have the chance to close it out in 5, rather than screwing around with a 6 or 7 game series, Hayes had his best game. Before the game winning goal, Hayes, after looking shaky, fired several good shots at Fleury. They would be saved, but it was good to see he was shooting. Hayes continued to play good hockey and it paid off for him at the end.
|After a 2 goal performance in Game 2 & Olympic diving in Game 3, Crosby didn’t show up to Game 4|
As far as Game 4 itself, this may have been the worst game the Rangers played offensively all season. The defense was up-to-snuff, and we’ve seen worse Ranger games this year, during the regular season. The Rangers didn’t even get a shot off until 12 minutes into the first period and wound up with 2 shots for the whole period. YES, TWO SHOTS!
In fact, the shot breakdown tells you what you need to know about this game:
First Period: NYR 2 – PITT 8
Second Period: NYR 13 – PITT 8
Third Period: NYR 6 – PITT 7
OT: NYR 3 – PITT 0
While Lundqvist finished with 22 saves on 23 shots & Fleury finished with 22 saves as well, but on 24 shots, both goalies didn’t have much work. However, the work they had, both goalies came up big. Fleury pulled a few stone-jobs and played big down the stretch. Lundqvist was also a monster, with no saves being bigger than the show he put on in the final minute of the third period.
As we’ve seen all series, shots have been hard to register in these games. That is why the saves these goalies make are that much more important than usual.
|Gotta love the LIRR. Notice the nametag!|
The first period of this game was the worst hockey the Rangers played this season. Even the games where they gave up a bunch of early goals, at least they were aggressive and just burnt. Here, the Rangers looked flatter than an Asian’s face (relax, it’s a joke, didn’t want to go for the prepubescent chest joke) and couldn’t do anything with the puck. Even the times the Rangers had possession of the puck, they just couldn’t find a shot or overpassed themselves out of it.
The Rangers, with two powerplays (The Rangers finished 0-3 on the PP, I know shocking) the Rangers couldn’t do anything. The Penguins had more shorthanded shots than the Rangers had PP shots in the first period. It is really disgusting. I don’t know if the Rangers could be worse on the PP if they actively tried to.
Patric Hornqvist got the first goal of the game, 2:22 in, capitalizing on a ton of a traffic in front of the net and beating a screened Lundqvist. No fault on Hank, as the Rangers defense were slow and couldn’t move bodies away from the net. It was the first time the Penguins struck first this series. Not a good time for the Rangers.
While the Rangers played a game with as much life as a “Walking Dead” zombie, the Penguins couldn’t make the Rangers pay. Even with with the powerplays (Pitt finished 0-3 too, but were denied by great goaltending & not giving up the puck like NYR does on the PP) the Pens couldn’t muster much. The game was another defensive battle in this series, as both defenses came up strong in denying opportunities. The good shots that did get through were denied by the goaltenders.
|AV wanted to choke a bitch tonight!|
Coach Vigneault is usually a man that is cool, calm and collected. I’ve never seen him show much emotion, win or lose, during Ranger games. I’ve seen him smile maybe once, and that’s because his BFF Tanner Glass scored a goal. However, this was the first time I remember in two years, where he was actively furious and not worried about his gum. I would’ve loved to be a fly on the wall during his first intermission talk. Reports after the game from the players said he went off hard. How couldn’t he? The team flat out sucked in the first period.
The second period was more of the same, but the Penguins were able to get to the puck more. The Penguins just had the Rangers frustrated all game. However, Derick Brassard scored his third goal of the series (He’s a Pens killer) with less than three minutes to go. After a scrum in front of the net, Brassard was able to locate the puck and sneak it by Fleury. As I said above, none of the goals tonight looked pretty nor were on the goaltenders. Puck luck and tenacity won this game for the Rangers.
Penguin fans have a right to bitch. They were the better team tonight. The Rangers continued to shoot themselves in the foot. However, good teams win bad games. The Rangers stuck with it and were able to ESCAPE with the win. The Rangers have been a great road team all season, so it’s no wonder they took both games here in Pittsburgh.
If you’ve been watching that incredible Isles/Caps series, there is no reason why the Islanders shouldn’t have swept it. They were the better team for four games. However, good teams win games. That’s what the Caps did and that’s why it is 2-2, rather than the Isles awaiting the NYR/PITT winner. Likewise, there is no reason the Penguins couldn’t have swept this series either. They’ve been the better team for most of this series. However, GOOD teams win BAD games. The Rangers have been the best at that all season.
|Lundqvist needs to add a Stanley Cup to his Gold Medal|
The third period was more of the same. Obviously, this is blue collar fan blog. This isn’t the newspaper, nor in the slight bit professional. For the third period, my asshole clenched like heart of Rosie O’Donnell running up the stairs of the Empire State Building, while my heart pumped faster than Sharon Stone at the end of “Casino.” It was that intense.
Put it in perspective. Either Pittsburgh takes the momentum, makes it 2-2 and makes it a best of 3 series. Keep in mind, the Rangers are the #1 seed in all of the NHL and the Penguins struggled with Buffalo on the last day of the season. For the Rangers, making this 3-1 & while Pittsburgh has played well under pressure, putting it all on Pittsburgh’s shoulders was crucial. You can’t call anything a “MUST-WIN” game, unless you’re down 3-1 and especially not when you’re up 2-1, but for the Rangers, this was a win they needed to nail down. This should series should be a distant memory come June.
The Penguins didn’t go down easy. As you read in my NHL Playoff Prediction blog, I really expected the Rangers to blow away Pittsburgh. I know what the Pens are capable of, but really, they are a weaker (and injured) team from last year, as opposed to a stronger (and healthier) NYR team than a year ago. I really expected a sweep and some big goal differentials. Instead, it’s been a one goal series the whole time and really, this is a series the Pens could’ve swept, just as easy as the Rangers could’ve. Again, GOOD teams win BAD games.
|You haven’t experienced misery until you’ve watched a game with JEFFREY|
For the people asking me about JEFFREY, well I did watch the game with him. However, he was more mellow than usual. I think he realized his chronic outbursts are sometimes unnecessary. However, if he wanted to blow up the bar, like a smelly Muslim, in the middle of the first period, I couldn’t blame him. The Rangers played awful all game, and I was expecting the hammer to drop. I was glad to see JEFFREY have his signature celebratory ginger ale on the way out, rather than speeding off into the night with pure ire & fire.
JEFFREY’s commentary is always on point during games. Maybe because he’s been watching games longer than me and has seen more games than me, but he’s pretty good & better at calling out plays and seeing who to credit/who to fault before the play reaches completion. That’s just good hockey eyes. I’m usually ok at that, but need a replay on TV because it happens so fast. Live, it’s easier to see what’s what.
JEFFREY looked miserable and was already looking to sell his Game 5 tickets. Always the fountain of optimism, I told him don’t worry, Hayes was due. I had no fucking clue or inside info if Hayes would score, I just felt like he was due. Hayes proved me right.
At the 3:14 mark of OT, MSL set up the game winning goal. MSL grabbed a loose puck and found Hagelin, who should’ve had the game winner. Hagelin fumbled the puck and got it to Hayes, who found the opening as big as the asscrack of a Conservative Christian and shimmied it right past Fleury. If you’re a Penguins fan, you’re just irate. For the Rangers, it was just another one of those games where they found a way to win. It wasn’t pretty, but you don’t get wins for being cute.
For the Rangers, and especially Hayes, it was a huge victory. You could feel the pressure deflate faster than Tom Brady football. You know how those people feel on Maury when they are told they are not the father. 3-1 series win. Rangers have the chance to finish on Friday.
|Will the Rangers close out this building?|
Coach AV always preaches the next game and to not look ahead. However, as fans, how can you not look ahead? I don’t see Pittsburgh doing what the Rangers did last year, and come back from 3-1. Can it happen? Sure. Will it? I wouldn’t bet it.
The Rangers have three chances to finish the fish. The first attempt is Friday and hopefully it is the only attempt they need. What really has been the difference in this series is Fleury, who despite his now 1-3 record, has been the best player overall in the entire series. Lundqvist has been good too, but had a huge brainfart in game 2 and hasn’t been tested as much as Fleury. I think many Ranger fans, myself included, expected Fleury to shit the bed. It hasn’t happened yet.
It would be nice for the Rangers to get it done on Friday, with the Caps/Isles series at least going 6 games. Their game 5, in a series that is 2-2, is on Thursday night. It would be great if that series goes 7, giving the Rangers extra days to rest and giving Kevin Klein some extra practice time too. I just can’t imagine how much ticket prices will be if it’s NYR vs NYI in Round 2. However first things first, finish the Pens!
As far as the Penguins tonight, while they played great, they still come off as the biggest pussies in the NHL. Crosby wasn’t as bad as usual, but Lapierre was flopping all over the ice. Is it me, or embellishments just not called at all anymore? It seemed embellishment penalties were all the rage last year, but I haven’t seen one called yet in the playoffs. The flopping of the Penguins makes them look like they are more into winning Oscar’s than Stanley Cups.
Game 5 is Friday, through a miracle or a stubhub market crash, I would like to go. If you got free tickets, feel free to offer them to me!
Until then, I’ll be back Friday night with hopefully a series wrap-up blog!
3 down, 13 to go.
WE WANT THE CUP
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter