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Handy Dandy Playoff Notebook: Turn the Page and Run It Back

  • I start this edition of the Handy Dandy Playoff notebook with tweet I sent shortly after the New York Rangers’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • In my heart of hearts I knew the Sebastian Aho goal was coming, more on that in a bit. And I just had a feeling that if the Rangers didn’t score early in OT that they’d be susceptible to a weird bloop or blast which would end the game.
  • And that came in the form of an Ian Cole shot that deflected off of Ryan Lindgren’s stick and past Igor Shesterkin. An unfortunate sequence of events, a missed opportunity, but in totality the end of one of the best games the Rangers played this season.
  • Alexis Lafrenière made an amazing play intercepting a puck from REDACTED, and then setting up Filip Chytil for the only goal of the game.
  • Chytil almost scored another goal, but Antiti Raanta came up big, like he did for most of the evening.
  • Twitter was full of people getting mad that Kaapo Kakko missed an open net rebound which could have made it 2-0, but I think enough people have come around the realize that isn’t why the Rangers lost the game. It was a moment, which shortly came after a puck beat Shesterkin and rang off the pipe, and one of a few moment during the game in which the Rangers had a chance to score but didn’t.
  • The biggest mistake the Rangers made was playing a style in the third in which they were afraid to try and make it 2-0 in the event that it could become 1-1 instead. In the modern NHL it is rare to win a game 1-0, even rarer to do it in the playoffs. Had the Rangers pulled it off vs. Carolina, it would have been the Hurricanes first home loss of the playoffs.
  • Their first round series vs. the Boston Bruins saw the home team win every game, and saw the Hurricanes play some true Jekyll and Hyde hockey. The long story short here is that heading into Game 2, the Rangers should approach the game the same way.
  • Carolina is unlikely to have another very slow start, but the Rangers need to be prepared to take the game to them and keep the structure they had in place during the first 40 in tact for the full 60.
  • You can see that from the start of the third period on that Carolina bridges the gap, and the Aho goal was the culmination of their surge.
  • The only thing I might change are the forward lines. The top six is looking a bit stale, and at this point the Kid Line deserves more ice time. If I were, Jack Adams finalist, Gerard Gallant... I’d move Panarin to line one, and pair Frank Vatrano with Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp and use them as the third line.
  • I would also find a way to get Zac Jones into the lineup on defense, but that’s never going to happen. But other than that, the Rangers should feel very good heading into Game 2. They played much better than the public expected them to, and how they bounce back will be important.
  • While trying to remain positive, I feel that most people understand this is very much a roster that has flaws which prevent it from being regarded as highly as a team such as the Colorado Avalanche. But that doesn’t matter at this point. We wanted the Rangers to be playing these types of important games, and now they are. There are lessons to be learned, and every game they play, particularly like they played for the majority of Game 1, is going to pay dividends once they reach their final form.
  • This is why the play the games, and as long as they are playing them we will be along for the ride.