by Patrick Hoffman on 04/26/12 at 09:00 AM ET
While the NHL regular season does not mean much when it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are things that a team did during the regular season that helps when it comes to playing in hockey’s second season.
This is the case when it comes to the New York Rangers. Tonight, the Rangers will host Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Ottawa Senators. It is the Rangers’ first Game 7 at Madison Square Garden since they won Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks in 1994 in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Rangers were extremely successful in the regular season and the three games they won in their series against the Senators because they played “Ranger Hockey”. Ranger hockey is something that team head coach John Tortorella came up with and it has worked to a ‘T’ when implemented correctly.
For starters, playing Ranger hockey is all about having a team first mentality. This means that playing a physical brand of hockey and blocking shots are almost mandatory and when the Rangers have won in this series, they have done both extremely well.
In this series, Rangers’ forwards Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle (Concussion), and Brandon Prust have done a good job in throwing hits and sacrificing their bodies to block shots. For these three Blueshirts, this is nothing different and when they do it well, the Rangers win a lot more often than they lose.
Playing this way also means that the Blueshirts’ big guns Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik need to be scoring big goals. Richards had a terrific Game 6 for the team with 2 points and showed why the team signed him to a nine-year deal over the off-season. On the other hand, Gaborik needs to find the scoring consistency he had during the regular when he scored 41 goals.
Playing Ranger hockey also means being able to hold onto a lead. During the regular season, if the Rangers were winning heading into the third period with a lead, it usually meant game over for the opponents.
The team has not been able to do that to the best of their abilities through six games in this series. They blew a lead in the third period in Games 2 and 4 in this series and had they been able to hang on to the lead, this series would already be over.
Ranger hockey is also about getting it done on defense. This means blocking shots, breaking up passes, letting their netminder see the puck and clearing rebounds. Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, and Marc Staal have done just that in the series’ first six games and will need to be even better at those things tonight with their playoff lives on the line.
Of course, you cannot mention ranger hockey without mentioning the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist. When it comes to winning hockeygames, Lundqvist is usually at the center of it, just like he was in Games 3 and 6 of this series.
If the Blueshirts play Ranger hockey tomorrow night, they should be able to advance to the second round.
Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
Tags: 2012+stanley+cup+playoffs, brad+richards, brandon+prust, brian+boyle, dan+girardi, henrik+lundqvist, marc+staal, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ryan+callahan, ryan+mcdonagh
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.