Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It All Comes Down to This....Game 7

What started out as a series that looked like it could be over quick has turned into a barn burner. The Washington Capitals trounced the Rangers at MSG to force a decisive Game 7 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC tonight. 
 There is not much that can be said about what the Rangers need to do in Game 7. Win is the simple answer and they must do it by any means necessary. They need to look at games 1 and 2 and use those as models for success against this Washington team. John Tortorella will be back behind the bench after being suspended for one game for an altercation with a fan. Blair Betts is out of the remainder of the playoffs after getting hit hard by Donald Brashear, who was given a six game suspension.
 The Rangers know what they need to do and how they need to do it. Fans of the Rangers know what needs to be done. Its Game 7....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Game 6

 Game 5 was one that the New York Rangers want to completely forget. A complete and utter breakdown in every facet of the game occurred as the Rangers lost 4-0. The Capitals showed how dangerous they can be when not pressured and not played well. 
 John Tortorella has been suspended for one game after an altercation with a fan so Jim Schoenfeld will serve as head coach with some coaches from the Hartford Wolf Pack coming up to assist him. 
 The Rangers know how important this game is. Their two game lead has been cut to one again and they know what is on the line. They will have the crowd behind them and will be ready to go.  In a nut shell...this IS Game 7 for the New York Rangers. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Game 5

 The New York Rangers have a chance to finish off their first round series tonight when they visit the Verizon Center in Washington DC to face off against the Caps. However, the Capitals will not go down easy.
 Last season they were down 3-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers and were able to bring it to overtime in Game 7 before their run was halted by the Flyers. There is no doubt that they can do it once again. For the Rangers to win, a couple of things will have to happen:

1. Henrik Lundqvist will have to continue his stellar goaltending.
2. The Rangers need to have more scoring on the board. Simeon Varlamov has played well so far this series. The Rangers need to make life much more difficult for him. 
3. Stay out of the box
4. Sean Avery needs to play a smarter game. He was playing well until the two very bad penalties in Game 4 which almost cost the Rangers the game and the series lead. Avery needs to replicate his play from the last game of the regular season against Philadelphia where he got under the skin of the Flyers simply because of his play and not his mouth.
5. The Rangers need to be physical and take away the time and space of Washington's players. There were times where the Capitals would skate in over the blueline unopposed. The defense needs to be more assertive on the defensive side of things.
6. The power play needs to click. If the Rangers want this game, they may need at least one power play goal...special teams is huge in the playoffs. The PK needs to continue to be strong as well. 
7. Stay out of the box.
8. Last but not least, do not treat this game as a chance to eliminate an opponent but rather an opponent is about to eliminate you. Washington will be pulling out all the stops and the Rangers need to be diligent and pay attention to detail. Make crisp passes and put pucks on net when you get a good opportunity. Defensive positioning will be key to making life hard for Washington and it must continue. The veterans on the team need to be calm and collected and make the younger players feel the same way. 

There isn't much else to say about this game. It will be by no means easy to oust the Caps. All the stats of this series point to the away team having an advantage but that doesn't matter now. Come out strong and just win is what the Rangers should be thinking. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Game 4

After getting shut out in Game 3, the pressure has been exponentially increased. The Rangers have brought it to Game 4, up in the series 2-1. Their poor play on Monday night was a huge let down after coming back from DC up 2-0. 
 Tortorella mentioned that the momentum is with Washington now and they certainly deserve it after making the Rangers look awful the other night. Simeon Varlamov shut the Ranger offense down and Alexander Semin led the Capitals' offense. 
 What needs to be done tonight by the Blueshirts is simple: win. They need to win this game in any way possible. Allowing the Caps to tie this series going back to Washington would be a disastrous scenario after a great start. The Rangers were not happy with their effort on Monday and will certainly look to get right back out there and show that Game 3 was just a fluke and that the real Ranger team is the one that played in Games 1 and 2. 
 They will need to use the crowd energy but effectively. Getting overzealous can lead to bad penalties and against a very good power play like Washington's, you cannot afford that. Just play hard and go back to the things you did in the first two games and this game is very winnable.
 Ranger fans are sweating right now and for good reason. It could all come down to this game. 

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game 2...

Game 2 is in just over an hour on NBC. The New York Rangers will be looking for a 2-0 lead coming back to New York. I am personally happy that the Rangers took one in Washington but taking both would be fantastic as well. The Rangers will be ready to go for this one. A couple of key points:

1. Stay out of the box. Don't take unnecessary penalties. With referees calling the weirdest things it is hard to do that but it needs to be less than Game 1.
2. The power play needs to be consistent and be a plus for the Rangers. Hopefully today it can do that.
3. Henrik Lundqvist needs to be Henrik Lundqvist.
4. Chris Drury will be a game time decision again. Hopefully if he plays he will provide a spark to get the Rangers going and maybe be the Captain Clutch that the Rangers will need if they want to go deep in the playoffs.
5. Pepper Jose Theodore. He showed himself as a weakness in the first game. The Rangers need to exploit this again in Game 2. 
6. Ryan Callahan will have to continue his great play of late. If he could hit the back of the net instead of the post at least once today, that would be helpful.
7. Did I mention stay out of the box?

There are more storylines and points that go into this game but I am keeping it simple like John Tortorella. This is huge. The Capitals are too good of a team to be comfortable with even up one game. New York has to come out and play hard, physical, and smart. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rangers take Game 1

 For anyone who watched Game 1 of the series between the New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals saw a couple of things happen that many did not expect. 

1. The Rangers some how managed to win the game after being dominated for most of the first period. At one point, they were being outshot 12-2 with Alexander Ovechkin tallying his fair share of those shots. 

2. Henrik Lundqvist stood on his head for most of the game doing his job in keeping the Rangers in the game while they attempted to solve the offensive attack of the Washington Capitals. Lundqvist's stellar play allowed the Rangers to stay calm, even against the high powered Washington power play. 

3. Jose Theodore showed why he may be the weak link for the Washington Capitals in this series, looking shaky throughout as he had trouble with his positioning and rebound control.

4. The Ranger power play may be finding its stride with two power play goals.

5. Ryan Callahan is beginning to become one of the hardest working players on the Rangers and one of the most important.

6. The officiating of the NHL in the playoffs did not disappoint as bad calls were made and blatant penalties were missed on both teams. The hope that it gets better is slim to none.

John Tortorella is a big piece to the success of the New York Rangers and his mentality of going after the Washington Capitals has worked for Game 1. The fact the Rangers took a game on the road is huge as it takes away home ice advantage from the Capitals. The Verizon Center is loud and the fans of Washington are always behind their team. Coming back to Madison Square Garden up 2-0 in the series would be an unbelievable result but a guaranteed split coming back to New York is an excellent result for the Rangers. But knowing Tortorella and the rest of the Ranger fan base, coming back up 2-0 would be bitter sweet. 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rangers Vs Capitals in First Round

 If you haven't heard the news, the New York Rangers will be going up against the Washington Capitals in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The series will start on Wednesday at the Verizon Center.
 The offensive fire power of the Washington Capitals is the main concern for the Rangers in this series. Names like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Niklas Backstrom, and Mike Green highlight the offensive attack of the Caps. Even as you dig deeper you find more players with plenty of offensive skill like Eric Fehr, Sergei Fedorov, Michael Nylander, and Brooks Laich. This team can put up goals with the best of them and it certainly will be a huge challenge for the defense and Henrik Lundqvist to shut them down, especially with the Rangers' scoring woes this season. 
 The one place where the Rangers might be able to exploit a weakness is in the goaltending of the Caps. Jose Theodore has been known to lose confidence at points and be very ineffective in net, case in point when the Rangers went up 4-0 against Washington earlier this season. Also case in point of the Capitals' offense when they came back and won 5-4. 
 But goaltending has been key for teams to win championships and certainly Lundqvist will need to be stellar. King Henrik's tendency to stay deep in his net will have to be worked out since it is when he does this that he gets beaten all too often. Even with an inch of space, someone like Mike Green or Alexander Semin will find it and snipe the puck into the back of the net. 
 It all starts on Wednesday and the Rangers will need to tighten the jock straps and get ready for a tough series. Washington is not an easy opponent but the road to the Stanley Cup is never an easy one traveled. Might as well start with difficult opponents early. 
 

Friday, April 10, 2009

Rangers Clinch a Spot

 For the fourth consecutive season, the New York Rangers will be playing the NHL playoffs as they clinched a spot when they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers last night by a score of 2-1. 
 I'm not going to get into the refereeing in the game, which was absolutely atrocious for both teams. But the Rangers came out and took care of business by beating the Flyers and making their path to the postseason a bit more direct and quick, rather than having to play on Sunday for all the marbles. 
 Montreal clinched a spot as well last night when they defeated the Boston Bruins, which sets the Eastern Conference field (sorry Florida). As of right now the Rangers are matched up with the Washington Capitals for the first round but with another game each for both New York and Montreal coming up this weekend, that could change. However, it is a lock that New York will be taking on either the Capitals or the Boston Bruins in the first round, both tough opponents.
 Personally I think the Rangers match up better with the Bruins considering the fact that they actually beat them this season. Washington wiped the floor with New York as they won all four match ups during the regular season. At least with the Bruins the Rangers would have a chance to win, even if they haven't scored a goal in Boston yet this season being shutout by Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas in the two excursions up there. 
 I am just happy that the team has a spot in the post season when there was a time when it looked like they might completely fall out of contention. Come Sunday, Ranger fans will know who the Blueshirts will be playing in the first round. 
 Yankees Red Sox? Yea right, New York and Boston better get ready for Rangers Bruins. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Game of the Year

 What the Rangers have done this season already is meaningless starting at 7 PM tomorrow. They find themselves hanging onto 8th place in the Eastern Conference by a hair with the Florida Panthers right behind them, only the wins tiebreaker saving the Broadway Blueshirts for now. 
 Madison Square Garden will have an elimination game type atmosphere tomorrow night when the Rangers host the Montreal Canadiens. With only 3 games remaining, two of them versus the Philadelphia Flyers, the New York Rangers need to win tomorrow night. Montreal just lost to the Ottawa Senators tonight and will be playing their 3rd game in 4 nights.
 Another point to consider in the Rangers' favor is the fact that both Mathieu Schneider and Andrei Markov will be out for the Montreal Canadiens. Schneider and Markov are two huge pieces to creating offense for the Habs, not to mention are two very good DEFENSE men. The Rangers will have to exploit this if they want a chance at coming away with two points tomorrow. 
 The Rangers on the other hand are still determining whether or not forward Nik Antropov will be able to play tomorrow. Antropov was involved with a knee on knee collision with Bruins winger Milan Lucic in the last game which put him out for the rest of the game. The Ranger beat writers are reporting that he will skate tomorrow and Tortorella expects him to play tomorrow night. 
 The goaltending matchup will most likely be Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist. The King will need to be stellar against a team that boasts some powerful offensive dynamos in Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay, and more. The Rangers will need to put pressure on Montreal and not let up, especially in the third period where they have had a hard time closing games out.
 The powerplay needs to improve. They aren't even getting setup in the zone. Montreal boasts the 12th best penalty kill in the NHL so it will be a stiff test for the Rangers in trying to get things going on the man advantage. The Ranger power play is 29th in the NHL at 14%. 
 I will be there tomorrow where I expect the air to be tense and the crowd to be loud. It is do or die for the New York Rangers tomorrow. Hopefully they match the desperation that is needed in order to win this game. I certainly will be. 

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hatters Season Recap

 One of the things I was busy with this season was writing for the Danbury Mad Hatters of the Eastern Professional Hockey League along with working with the team on other various tasks. 
 The season started off rough as the team was struggling to find its identity with winning streaks here and there but no form of consistency. 
 However, something happened about halfway through the season when everything just began to click. Players like Erik Kent and Obi Aduba woke up and became the focal point of the offense for the Mad Hatters. Kent finished with the team lead in goals and points with 34 goals and 70 points. 
 Many players came and went over the year but late season acquisitions such as Brian Hannafin, Jonathan Lounsbury, Ryan Stern, and Scott Horvath made the Danbury Mad Hatters a force to be reckoned with towards the end of the season, so much so that it seemed like the Brooklyn Aces' lead of the EPHL standings may have been thwarted had it been for more games in the season. 
 On the blue line, Chad Jones emerged as quite the defenseman. His good defensive play and offensive instincts, including a heavy shot, really added another dimension to the Mad Hatters attack. Lounsbury was another defenseman of skill added to the roster late in the season. Alex Redmond made huge strides over the course of the season to become a very good defenseman. Being so young, he still has time to learn new things and perfect his skills on both sides of the puck. 
 Derek MacIntyre was the constant in the crease all season for the Danbury Mad Hatters. Even though he played two games less, MacIntyre finished with a better goals against average than the EPHL MVP, Nick Niedert. Niedert had one more win and a slightly better save percentage than MacIntyre. However, down the stretch it seemed like Derek was poised and showed that he was one of the better goaltenders in the league. 
 Unfortunately the Hatters fell just short of making the championship series. The Jersey Rockhoppers, who the Hatters were contending with for the second spot in the EPHL for the entire second half of the season, won the first championship in league history winning the best of three series 2-1. Despite losing the first game they were able to take two straight from Brooklyn to win out. 
 One thing I did notice about this season was the heart and soul the players put in every night. They loved the fans in Danbury and playing in front of the crowd. Section 102 was a catalyst to building energy not only in the Danbury Ice Arena but also within the team. For stretches during the season, the Mad Hatters were unbeatable at home as the support they got was the best in the league. Things may not have been as smoothly run as the team had hoped but they had won over the hearts of the fans which was the best thing they could do for people, especially in tough economic times. 
 What is next for the Danbury Mad Hatters? All they can do is try to improve their season next year. With a solid team put together a full year will allow this team to show who they really are and just how good they can be. Jersey will need to be looking over their shoulder as the Mad Hatters run wild next season with a better team and loud fans. 
 Make sure you keep checking here for Mad Hatters news throughout the offseason

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Playoffs????

 Well, it has truly been awhile since I have written here. Just want to apologize for the very long absence of new material. To be honest school and other obligations have kept me too busy to keep this site updated. I was recruited to write about the Coyotes on a new website called The Hockey Writers, definitely something you should check out. I will put a link over on the right if it isn't already there.
 But as I write this it is late in the playoff race. The New York Rangers are playing the Carolina Hurricanes tonight and will only have four, yes, four more games left in the regular season. 
 Will the Rangers make the playoffs? I am going to take a look at that in the very near future along with a quick look at the Coyotes who have been eliminated from playoff contention. I will also give a recap on the Danbury Mad Hatters inaugural season and offer up my insights on how it went and what needs to be done to make it better. 
 Once again I am sorry that this has not been kept up to date more but I will get around to it, I promise. Until then, keep watching hockey.