Kreider Debuts Against Senators in Game 3

April 16, 2012

New York Rangers top prospect Chris Kreider made his NHL debut Monday night in the Rangers’ 1-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup. The Rangers lead the series 2-1.

Kreider, who signed an entry-level contract with the Rangers last week just two days after winning his second National Championship at Boston College, played 11:11 and skated alongside Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards throughout the night in the absence of Carl Hagelin, who was handed a three-game suspension for his hit on Daniel Alfredsson in Game 2.

As expected, Kreider didn’t see much action late in the third period with the Rangers clinging to a 1-0 lead. Head coach John Tortorella said he wanted Kreider to watch the game from the bench to get a better view of the game. Kreider took it in stride.

When asked what he learned, Kreider said: “What it takes to win at this level. More than anything, how the guys have bought into this series. It’s a winning brand of hockey and I was able to see that from the bench.”

Kreider nearly had his first NHL goal in his first game. With a few seconds left in the second period, Kreider had a golden opportunity on the goalmouth but couldn’t get stick on the puck.

“I’m still thinking about it, I just missed it,” Kreider said. “I was so excited I just missed it.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Rangers Stump Senators, Win Game 1

April 12, 2012

Courtesy of BlueShirtsUnited.com

You couldn’t have asked for a better performance from the New York Rangers in Game 1 Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators. No, the Rangers didn’t dominate from start to finish, but their offense was solid and their defense weathered the storm when the Senators’ potent offense was controlling the puck. When the defense broke down, Henrik Lundqvist stood tall and the Rangers walked away with a 4-2 opening game victory to lead the best of seven 1-0.

Ryan Callahan opened the scoring in the first period when his turnaround shot found space between the far post and goaltender Craig Anderson‘s pad to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead with 7:59 left in the first period.

The Senators responded and applied pressure, but a key timeout by head coach John Tortorella settled the game down for the Rangers. They responded when Marian Gaborik drove to the net and slipped the puck between Anderson’s legs to give the Rangers a 2-0 with 3:36 left. Brian Boyle added to that lead when he fired a loose puck over Anderson’s shoulder to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead with 54 seconds left in the middle period.

Brad Richards closed the scoring minutes into the third period, converting off a pass from Carl Hagelin after he stripped a Senators defenseman of the puck to make it 4-0.

Daniel Alfredsson broke Lundqvist’s shutout bid with 9:55 left, and Erik Condra cut the lead to 4-2 with 2:19 left. Read the rest of this entry »


Rangers Draw Senators in First Round

April 8, 2012

No one expected the Rangers would be playing the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that’s what we got.

After losing Saturday night against the Washington Capitals — the matchup most saw coming — the Rangers will draw the Senators, whom the team went 1-2-1 against in the regular season.

Let’s face it, this isn’t an ideal matchup for the Blueshirts, especially in the first round. The Senators are a fast, offensive-minded team that plays a run-and-gun style. That style has given the Rangers a tough time all season. The Rangers prefer to slow the game down to a grind; with a team like the Senators, doing that is difficult.

The Senators have scoring depth throughout the lineup, including on the backend. Jason Spezza had a phenomenal season, finishing with 34 goals and 84 points, while Milan Michalek tallied 35 goals and 60 points. On defense, the Senators posses possible Norris Trophy candidate Erik Karlsson, who at just 21-years-old finished with 19 goals and 78 points.

While Ottawa’s 249 goals was good enough for fourth in the Eastern Conference, the team allowed 240 goals, 10th worst in the East. The Rangers aren’t a high-scoring team, but facing against a team that isn’t defensively sound plays well into the Rangers game. They will need to capitalize on any and all chances the Senators give them, including on the powerplay.

The Senators had the 20th best penalty kill in the league, another area that should benefit the Rangers, who have had success lately against poor penalty killing teams, including Winnipeg and Philadelphia.

On the flip side, Ottawa finished with the 11th ranked powerplay, operating at over 18 percent. Even with a penalty kill that has been strong all season, the Rangers have to stay out of the box against a team with as many weapons as the Senators.

The Rangers have the talent to come out on top. Marian Gaborik, who finished with 41 goals and played in all 82 games,  is playing as well as anyone in the NHL alongside Brad Richards. The team is receiving some secondary scoring from players like Brian Boyle and Brandon Dubinsky, but more is needed.

Henrik Lundqvist is the key to any success the Rangers will have this spring. He hasn’t played well the last little bit, save for the game last week against the Flyers. The Rangers need him to be the player he was for the first four or five months of the season, especially against a team like the Senators.

The Senators outscored the Rangers 11-8 in their four-game matchup this season. Both teams blanked the other 3-0, while the Senators defeated the Rangers 4-1 early last month. The first clash of the season was back in October, where the Rangers blew a 4-1 lead and lost 5-4 in a shootout. That game was before the Rangers hit their stride, which began two days later against the San Jose Sharks.

It isn’t the ideal matchup for the Rangers, but at this stage in the game, nothing is easy. Every team — minus the Florida Panthers — deserves to be where they are. If the Rangers play their game and play within themselves, they’re going to be a very difficult team to defeat, no matter what jersey the other team is wearing.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia


Rangers Edge Nash, Blue Jackets in OT 3-2

February 19, 2012

The undertone of Sunday night’s game was Rick Nash visiting New York where he could be playing at this time next week. But tonight, he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, and even though it took overtime, the Rangers walked away with a 3-2 overtime victory on a game-winning goal by Derek Stepan just seconds into the extra period.

The Rangers dominated the opening stanza, and walked away with a 1-0 lead on a goal by Brad Richards, off a drop-pass from Carl Hagelin. It was Richards’ 18th goal of the season. The Rangers outshot the Blue Jackets 10-4, and completely controlled the puck from start to finish.

The Jackets tied the game in the second period on the powerplay after Marian Gaborik was called for high-sticking. Columbus’ Derek Brassard‘s slapshot beat Henrik Lundqvist for his 11th goal of the season. Late in the second period, the Rangers took the lead when Artem Anisimov buried a loose puck outside the crease, after Dan Girardi‘s slapshot missed the net and skidded slowly back in front.

The Rangers appeared to take a 3-1 lead in the dying seconds of the second period when Michael Del Zotto beat goaltender Chris Mason, but after further review, it was determined time had expired, even though the television clocks showed .01 remaining on the clock. The NHL said that is not the official clock, and the goal was disallowed.

New York held onto the 2-1 lead none other than Nash scored to tie it with 1:33 left to send the game to overtime, when Stepan completed a gorgeous tic-tac-toe pass from Del Zotto and Gaborik to give the Rangers the 3-2 win.

  • Beautiful play to end the game. I think all Rangers fans have come to love the team’s blue-collar style, but plays like that are always welcomed. The team deserved to win this game, and deserved the fate they got.
  • How wasn’t Del Zotto a star of the game? You could make the case he should have been the first, which somehow went to Ryan Callahan, who finished with zero points on the night. I love Callahan, but Del Zotto should have gotten the nod.
  • The NHL has to get its stuff together with the clock issue. It makes absolutely no sense that the game clock isn’t the official clock. It’s 2012; how is this an issue?
  • The powerplay continues to be an issue. Enough said.
  • Gorgeous pass by Hagelin on the Richards goal. The kid is getting better and better.
  • Lundqvist didn’t get a lot of work, but his save on Jeff Carter was gorgeous.
  • I loved the “We Don’t Want You” chant from the fans. Not sure if it would have any affected on him, but I’m sure Nash didn’t appreciate it.
  • Nothing else to say tonight. It was a pretty boring game, and the dead crowd reflected it.
  • It’s off to Pittsburgh for a matchup with the Penguins and Evgeni Malkin on Tuesday.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia


Flyers Acquire Kubina

February 18, 2012

Quick post here, as it isn’t really related to the Rangers, but it kind of is…if that makes sense.

Anyway, the Philadelphia Flyers today acquired defenseman Pavel Kubina from the Tampa Bay Lightning for a conditional second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013, and a 2013 fourth-round pick, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

I was pulling for the Blueshirts to acquire Kubina — along with his expiring contract — for the stretch run. He’s a guy who was part of the 2004 Lightning, along with John Tortorella and Brad Richards. The price was a little high, but I would have pulled the trigger on this one. Hurts even more that he went to Philadelphia.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia


Woywitka, Wolski Return from AHL Purgatory

February 15, 2012

Remember Jeff Woywitka and Wojtek Wolski? Well if you forgot about them, you’ll hear about them a little more before never hearing about them again — at least not in Ranger land.

The two returned today from their two-week “conditioning” stint with the Connecticut Whale (AHL), but don’t expect them to jump back into the lineup.

In six games, Woywitka tallied three assists and was a plus-2, while Wolski registered three goals and five points and was a minus-1.

Woywitka played decently with the Rangers after he was signed towards the end of training camp — or soon after the season started…who could remember at this point? — but has not dressed since Dec. 30 due to a combinations of a foot injury and Stu Bickel leapfrogging him on the depth chart.

Wolski, meanwhile, has had the season from hell. After hurting himself in training camp, he’s appeared in just nine games this season, and has been a healthy scratch for 14 contests when not on IR.

Don’t expect either to crack the lineup, with Wolski either getting dealt at the deadline [unlikely] or getting waived [likely]. Woywitka could see a similar fate in Connecticut, as he won’t command much of a return on the market.

Part of me feels for Wolski. He’s similar to Erik Christensen in that he has all the skill in the world but can never put it together. There’s a reason he’s on his fourth or fifth team and he’s only 24-years-old. I remember I had him penciled in to play alongside Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards in training camp. That hasn’t worked out in more ways than one.

I do think he’ll be off this team by playoff time, but he could have one last opportunity to make an impact, as he could play tomorrow night if Ruslan Fedotenko can’t go against Chicago.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia


Lundqvist Dominates, Rangers Shutout Bruins 3-0

February 14, 2012

All season the Rangers have been put behind teams like the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. They’re 5-0 against the Flyers, 2-1 against the Penguins and now 2-0 against the Bruins after Henrik Lundqvist‘s 42-save performance in Beantown, as the Ranger shutout the B’s 2-0.

The Rangers’ powerplay continues to gain steam, now scoring five goals in the last four games, as Ryan Callahan tallied off a crease-mouth pass from Michael Del Zotto in the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. It was Callahan’s sixth goal in the last four games, and his 23rd this season.

In the dying seconds of the opening period, a Ryan McDonagh wrist-shot deflected off Zdeno Chara‘s knee and passed Tim Thomas to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead heading into the dressing room.

The Bruins controlled the play in the second period, but Lundqvist stood tall and made 14 saves to preserve the lead.

The Blueshirts put the game away in the third period when Artem Anisimov capitalized on a 2-on-1 to make it 3-0. Lundqvist made one last save in the final minute of play, denying a Bruin on a breakaway with the glove. It was the Rangers’ 4th-straight win. Read the rest of this entry »