Rangers Vs. Flyers Game 2: The Other Foot Drops
Notes from the Rangers' Game 2 loss to the Flyers.
- Here's a dirty little secret about every Stanley Cup Champion that ever fan seems to forget: They lose playoff games at some point. Yes, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to take a stranglehold on this series on Sunday, blew a 2-0 lead and had a horrific third period with their backs against the wall. But every team loses a playoff game at some point or another. No one wins 16 before losing one. It just doesn't happen. And guess what? The Rangers will lose again this postseason and my guess in they will lose again in this series. It's OK, it happens. Stop panicking (if you are).
- Here is another reality: All Stanley Cup Champions have to win on the road. The Rangers set a franchise record with 25 road wins this year. They're arguably a better team away from Madison Square Garden than they are in it. So the fact that the Flyers "took back home ice" in this series is a nothing moment for me. Who cares? They do have to win at home, too, though.
- I tweeted this last night: You look at the third period the Rangers played in Game 1 and thought, "Man, this team can go far." Then you look at the third period from Game 2 and think, "Wow, they're really not that good." It's obviously all about the big picture in hockey. The Rangers played a horrific third period on Sunday. They did generate a couple of good chances, but all and all they only took seven third period shots. That's unacceptable for that situation.
- I've also noticed that sometimes the Rangers (and sorry if this is too graphic for some) have their foot on another team's throat and don't step down for the kill. Up 2-0 early in the first period against a team that you just beat 4-1 in Game 1? The Rangers should have been pounding on the Flyers' crease like a SWAT Team surrounding a drug den. When you get an opportunity to finish an opponent, or to keep taking swings, you do it. And you keep doing it until the job is done. Remember "safe is death?" Well, in some situations it's OK to sit back and be "safe." Not up 2-0 with 50 minutes to play.
- I've seen a lot of people get on Rick Nash, which I suppose is to be expected since some fans are in full panic mode already. No, he has not scored through two games. Yes, third periods like the one on Sunday are the moments that you got Nash for in the first place, but he's taken 13 shots in two games, has two assists and has been a factor. Remember how I always look at the chances a player is creating rather than what their totals look like? Sure, Nash could be better, but he could be a whole Hell of a lot worse, too. I don't think he was a problem Sunday at all. Still, he's here to score goals, and he could have used on Sunday.
- Martin St. Louis got off his goal-scoring slide, popping in the first goal of the game. St. Louis, Nash and Derek Stepan had a really good game overall in my book.
- If Mats Zuccarello scored from the slot to tie the game at three we might be looking at a different result and most people are talking about a sweep and how amazing the Rangers are. Hockey can be a game of bounces. In the playoffs especially.
- This is another one of those games where you can argue the Rangers weren't that bad. I said it after Game 1, the Rangers could have been a whole lot better, but they won the game so all was forgiven. In Game 2 it was the exact opposite. The Rangers could have been a whole lot better, but they lost so now it's the end of the world. Naturally, of course.
- Ryan McDonagh did not look great. Dan Girardi didn't either. And when that happens, and they get scored on (which they did) I think it raises the panic level of the entire defense. I do like Kevin Klein's veteran presence on the blue line, and I do think him and Anton Stralman helped settle things down, but the Rangers' defense stars with McDonagh and Girardi, and they weren't good enough Sunday.
- The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a long, long grind. They're a marathon. You win games, you lose games and you play a lot of games. If you truly think this series is over because the series is tied 1-1 and the team is going back to Philadelphia for two games, make it known and then stick to those guns. And if the Rangers do win the series and keep marching forward then don't celebrate with everyone else. I can't take the up and down roller-coaster with some people (and again, not a lot of it happens here, social media is part of this, too). You can't get too high with the highs or too low with the lows. The team can't either.
- My last note will be this: Believe it or not I think there's far more pressure on Philadelphia in Game 3 than on New York. For the Flyers, it's a chance to win their first game at home and take a 2-1 series lead. If the Rangers can win they've taken back the home ice advantage and have a chance to take both games in Philadelphia to really put them down. But if the Rangers lose Game 3? Then all the pressure is on them to avoid a must-win Game 5 at home before another must-win Game 6 in Philadelphia. But I'm obviously looking too far into the future here. Just win Game 3 and go from there.