Rangers Vs. Penguins: Keep Marching Boys
Notes from the Rangers OT win over the Penguins.
- Much like last year's loss to the Los Angeles Kings, that's a much closer series than the 4-1 final would indicate. The Rangers won all four of their games by a score of 2-1 and needed overtime in two of the four to move on. The Penguins, despite their injuries, were a very tough out. That's why it's all the more important the Rangers finished them in five. It's just more time to rest and recover before the Second Round.
- This is a comment I'm going to make while noting its a double edged sword: The Rangers won this series without playing anywhere near their best hockey. Why is that bad? Because that really can't continue to happen if the Rangers want to move on. Why is it good? Because you could very easily assume the Rangers might find their groove now that this is behind them.
- I think the Rangers were incredibly lucky to survive the first 15 minutes of the third period, and then I think the Penguins were incredibly lucky to survive the final five minutes of the third period. Adam tweeted this, for the record.
- Marc-Andre Fleury -- for all his warts and all the talk of his choking in the playoffs -- was easily Pittsburgh's best player in this series. He was exceptional in just about every game. If he played any worse the series probably becomes a little less stressful for Rangers fans.
- But give the Rangers a ton of blame, too, for not having a competent power play about 85% of the time. I'm not even talking about scoring, I'm talking about generating chances and grabbing momentum. For what it's worth, I thought every power play the Rangers had tonight was good. Even the advantages that didn't score.
- And also give the Rangers a ton of credit. They found another way to win another game they didn't play their best in. Outside of a few crazy moment, I did think the Rangers had a pretty good overtime, but there were enough mistakes made that Pittsburgh could have easily forced another game. Still, there are no style points in hockey. A win is a win. And a series clinching win is a series clinching win.
- J.T. Miller was the Rangers best player Friday night without question. He was all over the ice and Alain Vigneault trusted him with crunch time minutes. Dominic Moore, Carl Hagelin and Rick Nash were close seconds for best forward.
- By the way, is any player more unlucky than Nash in the playoffs? Hits the crossbar, gets robbed a couple of times and pushes the puck just wide on another chance. He's already done enough offensively to justify burying last year's stupidity of him not being a playoff performer, but I think the goals are coming.
- Not a good night for the fourth line as a whole. A lot of that falls on Tanner Glass (who had a bad game tonight but hasn't been a total tire fire in this series). I did appreciate Vigneault sitting Glass in overtime after his line had their heads caved in and gave up two quality scoring chances. It was Moore -- with Hagelin -- who made the play to set up the game-winning goal.
- Henrik Lundqvist was a beast. An absolute beast.
- As was the Rangers defensive corps all series. Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi threw a wet blanket over Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in all but one game. Marc Staal was great too. As was Keith Yandle and Matt Hunwick. Dan Boyle was up and down.
- The Garden was so, so loud. Apparently the Chase Bridges were literally swaying after the Hagelin goal. That's cool.
- At the very least the Rangers are going to get what I want in a Second Round matchup. Either a series that goes seven or the Washington Capitals. I don't believe there's an easy matchup in the playoffs but I do like the Rangers' ability to utilize their speed against Washington more than the Islanders.
- Here's to hoping Mats Zuccarello is OK.
12 to go.