|The DOINOW.com 1st Star & the person who deserved the Broadway Hat in my book!|
Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com. I don’t mean to rush you here, but I have the “real” job tomorrow morning, at 5AM, so let’s get right into it. If you don’t know the normal intro, check the archives on the right hand of the site for previous blogs.You can also check out the official NYR Game 6 report, as well as the official postgame news/notes, from BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com on the main page. For now, let’s dive right into Game 6 of the ECF.
Emotion. Stress. Nerves. Severe abdominal gas. That basically describes me all day going into this Game 6 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. All day at work, (I’m a union construction worker, hence my blue collar blueshirt views here), I could not leave the porto potty. If you know me in real life, and have the displeasure of being really close to me, like say the infamous JEFFREY, it’s just a horror show. During these playoff games, I am a fucking wreck. I’m shaking like Michael J. Fox or like Kurt Cobain going through withdrawal. It’s bad.
All jokes aside, I just can’t stop. I think about the game all day long. I read other blogs. I read social media. I text my friends. I get about 37377374373 opinions from 3377437473 people, all discussing the Rangers. Call it deranged lunacy or just being a fanatic, but really, I probably would’ve banged out sick tomorrow if the Rangers dropped Game 6, thus ending their season.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Rangers defeated the Lightning, 7-3, to tie their Best of 7 ECF series at 3-3. The 7 goals was the most amount of goals the Rangers have scored all playoffs. Game 7 will be played at MSG on Friday night. That game will determine if the Rangers return to the Stanley Cup finals, or lament over what could’ve been.
|JT Miller had his best game of the playoffs in Game 6 of the ECF|
Don’t let the final score fool you. Tampa owned this game for the first 40 minutes. The Rangers got two lucky goals early and then sweat out Lundqvist for two periods. Tampa dominated the puck so much, you just felt that even up 2-0, the lead would be gone fast.
I wouldn’t say the Rangers looked lost, just that Tampa was better. Even with the 2-0 lead, the Rangers had a hard time moving the puck. They did not have one good 5 on 5 possession, where they could move the puck and try to find a quality shot. It was just a frantic pace and Tampa was more than willing to accommodate.
Tampa played strong defense, met the Rangers at the blue line and were able to turn most Ranger rushes into cleared pucks within seconds. On the flipside, Tampa was constantly in the Rangers zone, teeing off and making big plays.
For 40 minutes, this elimination game was a nerve-wracking game.
I can’t lie, going into this game, I just kept thinking about that Game 3, the 6-5 OT game. Lundqvist lost that game for the Rangers, after giving up 6 goals the game before. However, Game 2, the Rangers let Hank down big time, where I would put the Game 3 loss solely on Hank. All I could think about was what if the Rangers won that game, and the Rangers entered this game up 3-2? After all, my original prediction was Rangers in 6 anyway.
Instead, these Rangers, who never do anything easy, after tying the series in Game 4, decided to shit the bed and lay an egg in Game 5, losing 2-0, at home. What kills me about these Rangers is that they are consistent at being inconsistent.
However, the stats will tell you, in these last four years, where the Rangers have played 75 playoff games, they are now 15-3 in elimination games and Lundqvist is 6-0 in Game 7’s. He will have a chance to go 7-0 on Friday. That’s a stat that scares me because at some point, you think they are due for a letdown, but here tonight, the Rangers stayed true and won the game. And the third period was their best hockey of the playoff season.
|Brassard has had several big games in these 2015 playoffs|
In the interest of staying consistent with my other blogs in this series & in the interest of time, let’s recap every goal, one-by-one. After that, we’ll talk more about the game.
GOAL 1: Brassard scored the first goal of the game, less than four minutes in, after taking a pass from Miller. Brassard beat Bishop with a backhand shot in front of the net. Beautiful goal and the Miller Lites were going down a bit easier. 1-0 NYR.
GOAL 2: Keith Yandle scored, with 4:30 to go in the first period, with a bomb from between the circles. The puck deflected in off JT Brown of Tampa. While Yandle’s decisions with the puck are questionable (skating/passing in front of his own net), Yandle has contributed offensively as of late. 2-0 NYR.
GOAL 3: Ryan Callahan scored a late goal in the first period, a powerplay goal, when he beat ex-teammate Henrik Lundqvist on a breakaway. This shouldn’t have even happened. Before the goal, Stamkos was called for a cross check. However, Stamkos continued the play and the whistle wasn’t blown. During that time, Kreider & Stepan were both called for cross checking penalties. I don’t know how the play continued. The official explanation was that Kreider committed the first penalty, Stamkos the second and Stepan the third. It didn’t look that way on the ice. It led to a 4 vs 3 PPG for Callahan. Credit Callahan for beating Hank as Hank couldn’t deny his former captain. Still, a very questionable call to even make this a TBL PP. 2-1 NYR.
GOAL 4: JT Miller got his first goal of the ECF, three minutes into the third period. After a second period, that featured great goaltending, both goalies imploded a bit, with Bishop taking the worse of it. The Rangers nearly fucked up a 3 vs 1 rush. Nash found Miller, who missed. Brassard then missed an easy goal, which would’ve went in if he lifted the puck an inch. However, Brassard got his own rebound and found Miller for the tip-in. Talk about a huge insurance goal. 3-1 NYR.
GOAL 5: James Sheppard, playing for the injured Mats Zuccarello, got his first goal of the playoffs, with 14 minutes to go in the third. Moore took a shot, Sheppard crashed the net and put it past the goal line. After a review, which shouldn’t have been necessary, as there was no question if Sheppard kicked it, the refs did the right thing and signaled a goal. 4-1 NYR.
GOAL 6: Brassard scored his second goal of the game, off a slap shot, a few minutes later. The rout was on and Bishop was pulled for Andrei Vasilevskiy. 5-1 NYR.
GOAL 7: Nikita Kucherov scored on a weak snap shot with 11 minutes and change to go. Total let down goal on Lundqvist’s part. He’s lucky this wasn’t a one goal game. 5-2 NYR.
GOAL 8: Rick Nash got his “A-Rod” goal, with 9 minutes and change to go, on the power play. Good for him, and I’ve always defended him here, but he needs to score when it matters the most, like he did in Game 4. 6-2 NYR.
GOAL 9: Kucherov scored another goal. Another horrible goal for Lundqvist to allow. More on that when I talk the goalies in the next section. Kucherov beat Hank with a simple wrist shot with less than 7 minutes to go. 6-3 NYR.
GOAL 10: The hat flew off my head, and my apartment, which was full of my neighbors/friends who all have work early tomorrow too, went nuts. Brassard scored an empty netter, sealing the game. I will have to look it up and I’ll post the official post game news/notes later, but I believe it was the first Rangers ECF hat trick since Messier. We had Stepan Mattean against Washington, now we have Mark Brassard here. 7-3 and your final.
EDIT: According to BlueshirtsUnited.com, Gretzky did it in 1997, in a game 2 vs Philly. However, Brassard is the first to do it, since Messier, in an elimination game.
|Neither goalie was spectacular in Game 6, but Hank was better|
We talk about it every blog, so let’s talk the goalies. Hank finished with 36 saves on 39 shots, while Bishop finished with 21 saves on 26 shots. TBL back-up Vasilevskiy finished with 6 saves on 7 shots.
When you assess Lundqvist’s game, he did enough for the team to win, despite the 3.00 GAA in this game. However, he had two really bad break downs when the game seemed in hand. There was no reason for Kucherov to add two goals to this game.
I thought Hank looked very shaky in this game. There were times when he was flipping like a fish out of water during this game. Early in the game, he completely left the net open and left his defense to block the net. I wonder if it was just nerves, from someone who usually thrives in pressure cookers.
I thought Hank had a bell-curve game. He started off shaky, played extremely well for the bulk of the game, and near the end of the game, tapered off a bit. He knows this. I know this. We all know this. He can’t do this in Game 7. We need 60 minutes of in his fucking prime Lundqvist to win Game 7.
As someone who is probably Hank’s harshest critic, I was kind of disgusted that Hank got the Broadway Hat after the game. I mean really? Brassard has a hat trick and two assists. Hank gave you 50 or so quality minutes of hockey. I don’t know how giving up 3 goals makes you a star of the game. This is why I think he’s overrated and overpaid. Sure there are bad goals and good goals, and while he could’ve stopped Callahan, I don’t blame him for that. I do blame him for those Kucherov goals.
Until the third period, a lot of this game was Tampa firing away and dominating the puck. Give Hank all the credit in the world for not blowing the one goal lead. Still, he drives me nuts with his passes that usually turn into turnovers. However, this is a Rangers team that struggles badly on the faceoffs, so it’s not like he can just freeze the puck either.
If I had to give Hank a grade for this game, I would give him a B.
On the flipside, Bishop played a strong game until the third period, where he fell down like a drunken sorority girl. The Ranger flood gates really opened in that third period. In the next section I’ll talk more about this, but, I will never know if the Rangers have him figured out.
What was good to see was the Rangers shooting, rebounding and deflecting. I have no clue why they got away from that in Game 5. Tonight was the blueprint on how to beat Bishop. Run the same plan on Game 7, Hank does his thing, and NO JINX, we are celebrating all weekend as we head to the Cup. But Game 7 seems light years away and is never a guarantee no matter what anyone says.
|King Midas Vigneault has a lot to smile about tonight|
There are two coaches decisions I question about this game. Feel free to speak out and hit me up on twitter or email to discuss, as I have to fix this damn comment section on this blog.
With Bishop pulled, at 5-1, with 10 minutes and change in the game, TB was able to get the score to 6-3 with less than 5 minutes remaining. TBL pulled their goalie, giving them the 6 vs 5 skater advantage. However, TBL then got a powerplay, and TBL Coach Jon Cooper put his back-up goalie back on the ice. With the Rangers having a difficult time clearing the puck on the PK, why not go 6 vs 4 and try to make it a two goal game? Instead, Cooper put his back-up back on the ice, but would pull him with 30 seconds left on the PP? Why not give his offense a full two minutes of 6 on 4?
I don’t think TBL would’ve came back anyway, especially with the clock against them, but it seemed like a Jack Capuano move by Cooper.
On the flip-side, with the Rangers knocking Bishop out, and looking to have a comfortable four goal lead, why not pull Lundqvist? I know, I know, I know, “YOU’RE THE TALBOT GUY!” However, Hank has a huge game on Friday. Why leave him out there to risk injury? Let him leave with a one goal allowed, confidence soaring and extra time to rest for Game 7, especially since Bishop was getting it. I mean, you don’t leave your starting quarterback in a game, up 21 points with 5 minutes to go in a game. It’s a tick-tacky thing to complain about, but what if Hank got hurt, especially with Tampa playing dirty late and already haven skated into Lundqvist? I don’t know if this was a question asked in the press conference, but I would like to know why.
|Hank is one win away from a return trip to the SCF|
Sorry for not getting too deep into today’s blog, I gotta be up early. I will try to have a new blog up between now and Friday, looking at Game 7. Maybe I will get my buddy, TBL reporter, Johnny Fontana for a preview.
We all know the stats. The Rangers have been remarkable in Game 7’s. Hank has been flawless. What does that mean for Friday? To me, nothing. Each game is independent of another. It’s not like TBL is going to say, “Hey, the Rangers are great in Game 7’s, so let’s lose.”
I said this a few blogs ago, I don’t know what to expect from either team in any of these games. We’ve seen shutouts. We’ve seen one goal games. We’ve seen blow outs. We’ve seen an OT. We’ve seen it all. Who knows what the fuck happens in Game 7. What Bishop will show up? The one from tonight or the one from Game 5? What Hank will show up? The one from Game 3 or the one that is perfection in Game 7’s at home? It’s totally unpredictable. Shit, the Rangers might even have Zuccarello back too!
For me, I want to see Lundqvist have another classic game 7 performance, bring the Rangers to the Cup, win the fucking damn thing and forever be known as KING HENRY. I won’t be able to rest or sleep easy until it happens!
Give credit to our boys, when it mattered the most, they showed up again. It’s never easy with this team. It’s always a rollercoaster.I might have a triple bypass by the time this is all over, but until that happens….
LET’S GO RANGERS
I’ll have more either tomorrow or Thursday. Keep it here on DOINOW.com for more!
PS: Hey JEFFREY, I expect to see you at the Bold, with my 2015 ECF Hat at 1 am Saturday morning!
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter