Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

Entries with the tag: brad richards

Easy As 1-2-3 for the Blueshirts in Win Over the Devils

That is the perfect description for the New York Rangers' 4-0 shutout this afternoon at Madison Square Garden over the New Jersey Devils.

The Devils did not seem to be interested in playing a meaningless game and that showed in their loss this afternoon. The Blueshirts were able to catch the Devils out of position on all four of their goals as the team simply took advantage of a poor Devils' performance today.

For Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist, it was a relatively easy 20-save shutout. The shutout was his second of the season while the victory was his 24th of the season.

It may not be a 30-win season for the Blueshirts' 31-year-old netminder but given the way he played in the regular season, it could garner another Vezina Trophy nomination or even win. In 43 games, Lundqvist went 24-16-3 with a 2.05 GAA, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts.

The team also got strong performances out of the likes of Derek Stepan (one goal and one assist), Ryan Callahan (one goal and one assist), Rick Nash (two goals), and Brad Richards (two assists). These four players are going to have to continue their offensive production come next week in the postseason in order for this Rangers' hockey club to have success.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brad+richards, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, montreal+canadiens, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, washington+capitals

A Glass Half Full Look at the Blueshirts

When it comes to New York Rangers' fans and the way they view their favorite hockey club, it is always an extreme point of view.

Either fans are in love and ecstatic about their hockey club or they absolutely despise and are fed up with their so called favorite NHL team. There is never a middle ground.

With two games remaining and just one win needed to clinch a postseason spot in the ever tight bottom portion of the Eastern Conference standings, it is time for a glass half full look. Believe it or not, there are things to like about this Blueshirts' hockey club.

For starters, the team has perhaps the best goaltender in the NHL in Henrik Lundqvist. For the last month or so, Lundqvist has been the team's best player and his statistics reflect that. 

In 41 games this season, Lundqvist is 22-16-3 with a 2.08 GAA (seventh in the league), a .926 save percentage (fifth in the league) and one shutout. He is always the main reason why when the Rangers' win and night in and night out, he gives his team a chance to win a hockey game.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carolina+hurricanes, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan

Richards Getting Hot at the Right Time for the Blueshirts

For most of this shortened season, things have not been easy for New York Rangers' forward Brad Richards.

For much of this year, Richards struggled in all areas of game whether it was on offense, on the power play, handling the puck, etc. A few times this season, Rangers' head coach John Tortorella even went as far to bench the Rangers' nine-year man.

With that said, it really is amazing how fast things can change. After picking up a goal and an assist last night in his team's 6-1 win over the Florida Panthers, Richards went out and scored his first career hat trick in helping the Blueshirts crush the Sabres by a score of 8-4.

If you are counting at home, that is four goals and an assist in the last two games. With his three goals tonight, not only is he in double digits, but he is starting to show that he is not afraid to put the puck on net.

In many games prior to these last two, Richards seemed afraid to put the puck on goal. He was clearly snake bitten and looked like he had lost confidence in his ability to put the puck in the net.

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  Tags: brad+richards, buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, florida+panthers, john+tortorella, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers

Taking Care Of Business

That is exactly what the New York Rangers did tonight in their 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden.

Coming into tonight's tilt, the Panthers were the worst team in the league. Tonight, the Rangers took advantage of that and pounded the Panthers with six goals and got strong offensive efforts from several of their players.

For starters, Mats Zuccarello is continuing to show how he has improved his game. He goes hard to the net, knows how to use his speed, gets his nose dirty and tonight, he was able to score two goals.

The club also got a strong offensive performance from Derick Brassard. Brassard had two goals and gave the team an early lead when he scored the games first goal just over three minutes into the tilt.

Rick Nash did his part in this game by picking up three points with a goal and two assists. It will be important for Nash to continue to produce as the team needs him to score in this last stretch of the season. 

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  Tags: brad+richards, buffalo+sabres, derick+brassard, florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, mats+zuccarello, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, rick+nash, ron+rolston, winnipeg+jets

Rangers Should Lean on and Follow Callahan and Stepan

After attending last night's New York Rangers vs. Winnipeg Jets' NHL game at Madison Square Garden, it is easy to see who the real catalysts are for this Rangers' hockey club in terms of playing the game the right way.

Believe it or not, I am not talking about players such as Rick Nash (he has been great this season), Brad Richards or Marian Gaborik. While Nash is the only player that has really stepped up unlike Richards and Gaborik, even he is not doing what the players I am about to talk about are doing.

These Blueshirts are team captain Ryan Callahan and his linemate Derek Stepan. At 28 and 22 years old, respectively, these two players represent all that is right with the club as well as being a big part of the core of the franchise moving forward.

Callahan has always been an exemplary Ranger. He hustles, he blocks shots, he plays the body, he goes hard to the net and this season, has shown that he has soft hands.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carl+hagelin, derek+stepan, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, ondrej+pavelec, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, winnipeg+jets

Keep Moving Forward

When it comes to the New York Rangers as a franchise, we have seen many consistent themes each and every season.

One of those themes has to do with streaking. Going into Thursday night's game against the Florida Panthers, the Blueshirts have won two straight games in beating the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night and the New Jersey Devils last night.

With the two victories, the Rangers find themselves in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with the same amount of points that the sixth place Carolina Hurricnaes and seventh place Toronto Maple Leafs have (32). What this means for the Blueshirts is that they need to keep moving forward and keep picking up two points whenever possible.

As I mentioned above though, the Blueshirts seem to run into a theme of winning a few and then losing a few. Prior to the Rangers winning two straight this week, they had dropped their last three games and were outscored 9-2 in those three tilts.

In a shortened season such as this one, the Rangers cannot afford to be up and down. Yes, the team currently holds a playoff spot but because of their extremely inconsistent play this season, they could just as easily be in the bottom seven of the Eastern Conference.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carl+hagelin, carolina+hurricanes, derek+stepan, florida+panthers, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, michael+del+zotto, new+jersey+devils, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, toronto+maple+leafs

Placing Some Blame on Tortorella

With the New York Rangers on a three game losing streak, many Blueshirts' fans are clamoring to have team head coach John Tortorella fired.

While it is typical for fans to overreact and make impulse decisions, it is a somewhat understandable feeling. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and getting Rick Nash during the off-season, many fans thought that the team had the makings of getting to the next level and once again being a Stanley Cup contender.

Unfortunately, these same fans have been let down. As of this writing, the team is tenth in the conference and three points out of the eighth spot. What is even worse for Rangers' fans is that the New York Islanders currently have one more point than their favorite hocckey team.

This is not the way it was supposed to be this season. The Blueshirts were supposed to be one of the best teams in both the East and the NHL and instead, are flirting with the possibility that they might not make the postseason at all.

While it is on the players to perform and produce, it is understandable that some of the blame must be placed on Tortorella. There is no doubt that while playing a defense-first system is smart, the team that Tortorella has includes several high-end forwards who might be being held back.

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  Tags: brad+richards, derek+stepan, glen+sather, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan

Another Disappointing Effort for the Blueshirts

For a team that is fighting to stay in the top eight in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers sure did not play with any kind of fight tonight in a 3-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg.

It what has been a consistent theme this season for Blueshirts, the Rangers did not generate too many quality scoring chances, allowed too many quality scoring chances to the Jets and looked like they lacked the energy that is needed to win a hockey game.

Furthermore, Rangers' forward Marian Gaborik was denied on a penalty shot by Jets' netminder Ondrej Pavelec in the first period. Gaborik got in too close to Pavelec and ended up losing control of the puck, which was then smothered by Pavelec.

Smothered would be the perfect word to describe what the Rangers' play has been in these last two games. The club cannot find the open holes to generate quality scoring chances, cannot find good shots to get on the power play and then when they do get a scoring chance, they make the opposing netminder look like the next Patrick Roy.

This word would also describe what is happening to some of the team's top players. Guys like Gaborik, Rick Nash, and Brad Richards have been quiet in these last two games and if one of those guys is not scoring, that means trouble for the rest of the Rangers' team. 

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  Tags: brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, ondrej+pavelec, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, winnipeg+jets

The Perfect Road Game

That is exactly what the New York Rangers played this afternoon in their 4-1 win over the Washington Capitals.

The Blueshirts got timely goal scoring, played solid on defense, got a great game from back-up netminder Martin Biron, and did a good job at killing penalties when they needed it the most. With the exception of the first ten minutes of the game in which they looked like they were asleep, this was by far and away the best Rangers' road game of the season.

It was nice to see Rangers' forward Brian Boyle come through with his first goal of the season in the second period on a delayed penalty. On the goal, he showed patience with the puck, got into good position and showed why guys should not be afraid to put the puck on net. Hopefully, this goal will get him going.

The club also got another excellent game from Rick Nash. Nash used his size, helped create two goals and was responsible in his own end.

Another big factor in this tilt was the play of Biron. Biron was sharp in making 28 saves and did his job by keeping his team in the game, giving his club a chance to win, and stopping the pucks that he should stop.

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  Tags: brad+richards, brian+boyle, buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, martin+biron, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash, toronto+maple+leafs, washington+capitals, winnipeg+jets

Nash Needs to Lead Rangers’ Offense

On Thursday night in their 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Rangers fired 42 shots on goal and created offense by not being afraid to go to the net, by not being afraid to put pucks on net and lastly, by following the lead of one of their own players.

That player was power forward Rick Nash. Besides getting on the scoresheet with two points on one goal and one assist, Nash had a game-high 12 shots on goal and was a force all over the ice.

Nash created offense by driving through the Lightning defense, by going to the dirty areas where goals are scored, by using his quick and smooth stickhandling skills and by using his size. The rest of the team followed suit and it resulted in a victory.

While the team also has the likes of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Carl Hagelin, and Ryan Callahan, it is Nash's offense that the team needs to follow. Nash creates scoring opportunities by not getting too fancy and by keeping the game simple, something the Rangers have struggled with this season.  

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  Tags: biffalo+sabres, brad+richards, carl+hagelin, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan, tampa+bay+lightning

Lundqvist Keeps Capitals at Bay in 2-1 Win

After getting off to a somewhat slow start, it appears that New York Rangers' starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is back to being himself between the pipes for his hockey club.

This was extremely evident tonight in the Rangers' 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist stopped 27 of 28 shots and picked-up his fourth straight win as he improves his record to 7-5 on the season.

Lundqvist was especially terrific in the third period as the Capitals beared down in the third period. The Capitals fired 11 shots at Lundqvist but the 30-year-old netminder stopped them all.

Before Lundqvist got on a roll in this game, it looked like the Rangers were going to blow the Capitals out of the water. The team outshot the Capitals 20-8 in the first period and yet, the club went into the second period down 1-0 thanks to the outstanding play of Capitals' netminder Braden Holtby.

That all changed when streaking Rangers' forward Carl Hagelin scored on a deflection to tie the game at one apiece. For Hagelin, it was his fifth goal in his last four games.

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  Tags: brad+richards, braden+holtby, carl+hagelin, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, michael+del+zotto, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, washington+capitals

Seven Minutes of Poor Play leads to 4-3 Shootout loss for Blueshirts

Had it not been for a terrible span of seven minutes in the second period, the New York Rangers may have never lost 4-3 to the New York Islanders in a shootout at Madison Square Garden.

After going up 2-0 in the first period, the Rangers stopped skating and allowed the Islanders to skate all over them for the first seven minutes. The result was three quick goals and the loss of a lead that the team should have built on.

The Rangers were able to tie the game at three when Carl Hagelin knocked a loose puck in the crease past Islanders' netminder Evgeni Nabokov. Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, the team was unable to get another one and the Islanders' first two shooters in the shootout did all the rest to spoil the Rangers' three game winning streak.

As always, the Rangers' power play struggled tonight. Yes, the team did manage to get one goal with the man advantage but other than that, they struggled to get pucks on the net, move the puck cleanly and even find good lanes to get a shot on Nabokov.

As I mentioned in my blog a little while ago, Brad Richards was just one of the reasons why the team could not do much on the man advantage tonight. His poor play on the power play actually caused team head coach John Tortorella to bench him for much of the third period. 

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  Tags: brad+boyes, brad+richards, carl+hagelin, evgeni+nabokov, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, martin+biron, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, washington+capitals

Brad Richards A Side Story in tonight’s Rangers vs. Islanders’ Game

While the game at Madison Square Garden between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders has yet to be settled, one interesting development has been the benching of Rangers' forward Brad Richards.

It was easy to see that Richards has had trouble tonight, both on even strength and on the power play. For Rangers' head coach John Tortorella, however, the main concern has to be Richards' poor performance on the power play.

Richards has not looked confident with the puck, was slow skating the puck out of his own zone and in general, has just had a tough time moving the puck. One could probably credit the Islanders' aggresive play on the penalty kill but it has been like this for Richards and the rest of the club's power play all season long.

There is no doubt that when Richards is at his best, he is one that creates offense by not being afraid to shoot the puck and being able to find the open lanes with his pin-point passing. This season, and even parts of last season, Richards has had trouble doing both when the team has the man advantage.

Obviously, the blame should not be placed solely on Richards's shoulders but as the team's supposed power play quarterback, he needs to get it going in order for this team to have success moving forward with the man advantage.

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  Tags: brad+richards, john+tortorella, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers

Clarkson, Brodeur Beat Blueshirts 3-1

For the New York Rangers, tonight must have seemed familiar as the team was beaten by the strong performances of New Jersey Devils' forward David Clarkson and netminder Martin Brodeur in a 3-1 loss.

Clarkson continues to show that last year was not a fluke as he picked up his sixth and seventh goal of the year by doing something the Rangers have not done often enough this season and that's being in the right position in the slot. On both goals, Clarkson was left open in front of Rangers' netminder Henrik Lundqvist and he made them pay for it.

The Blueshirts also ran into the hot goaltending of Brodeur. Brodeur, who stopped 24 or 25 shots on the night, made several great saves in the first period to keep the Rangers off the board and then made a terrific glove save on Blueshirts' forward Carl Hagelin in the third period to help preserve the victory.

The loss puts the Rangers at 4-5 this season and also shows just how inconsistent the club really is. The team continued to struggle on the power play, played careless defense in front of Lundqvist and did not get the offense they need to win a hockey game.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carl+hagelin, david+clarkson, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, martin+brodeur, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, rick+nash

Not Going to be Easy

Update: According to Rangers' beat writer Steve Zipay, it appears that Rangers' back-up goaltender Martin Biron will make his first start of the season tonight

That will certainly be the case tonight for the New York Rangers when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in Tampa.

The Blueshirts are coming off one of their worst performances of this young season. On Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers were kept quiet offensively, took another careless too many men on the ice penalty and lacked the energy that is needed to be competitive in a hockey game.

At the other end of the ice, the Lightning are just the opposite. The team is scoring goals like crazy (beat the Winnipeg Jets 8-3 last night), cashing in on the power play and at the time of this writing, is the top team in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1 record, having won five straight games.

For the Rangers to start winning hockey games, their offense is going to need to step up in a big way. Besides the line of Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Rick Nash, the team's forwards have been very quiet.

The team needs the likes of Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin to start putting the puck in the net. These two players have not played badly but they are not finding themselves on the scoresheet, which could become a problem as this season goes further.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carl+hagelin, derek+stepan, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash, tampa+bay+lightning, winnipeg+jets

60-Minute Hockey

For the first time this season, that is exactly what the New York Rangers played in their 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Madison Square Garden last night.

The team dominated in all facets of the game and did all the little things to win a hockey game. This style of hockey is what made the Blueshirts so successful last season and last night against the Leafs, it was the perfect blueprint for a win.

The Rangers once again got another great performance from Marian Gaborik. With two goals and two assists for four points, Gaborik is now fifth in the league in scoring with nine points (5 goals and 4 assists) and has eight points in his last three games.

The team also got some offense from its blue line last night. Marc Staal scored the game-tying goal in the third period for his first goal of the season and took the shot from the point that was deflected by Gaborik for the game winning goal while defenseman Michael Del Zotto added two assists. 

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  Tags: brad+richards, james+reimer, marc+staal, marian+gaborik, michael+del+zotto, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, rick+nash, toronto+maple+leafs

Getting Used to Back-to-Back

With a shortened season and condensed schedule, this is something that the New York Rangers need to get used to quickly to avoid performances like tonight in Philadelphia.

After beating the Boston Bruins last night by a score of 4-3 in overtime, the Rangers were flat in the first two periods and it cost them in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Not enough offense, too much time in their own zone and untimely penalty caused the Blueshirts problems and ultimately, the hockey game.

Going into this game, everyone knew that the Flyers were a desparate hockey club. The club was off to an 0-3 start, they have a bunch of guys that are hurt and were having trouble putting the puck in the net.

While the Flyers did not exactly light up the scoreboard, they did generate a ton of scoring chances, did a good job controlling the puck and limited the Blueshirts' scoring opportunities. The Flyers also did a good job of slowing day what was already a tired hockey club in the Rangers.

What the Flyers also did was kill a big 5-on-3 Rangers' power play in the third period. The Rangers were not able to get many pucks on net, spent too much time setting up at the perimeter of the zone and towards the end of the power play, they let the Flyers control the puck for way too long.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, rick+nash, taylor+pyatt, toronto+maple+leafs

Gaborik’s Hat Trick Lifts Blueshirts to OT Victory

Sometimes, someone just needs to step up and put the puck in the net to help his club win a hockey game.

Tonight against the Boston Bruins, it was New York Rangers' forward Marian Gaborik who scored an overtime goal to give himself a hat trick (14th of his career) and more importantly, his team, a 4-3 victory. These were two points that Rangers' badly needed and Gaborik made it happen.

In overtime, Bruins' defenseman Andrew Ference struggled with a bouncing puck at that point and once Gaborik saw that, he got the puck and took off for the races. He went in on Bruins' netminder Tuukka Rask and was stopped on the first shot but was able to bat the rebound down and into the net to give his team their first win of the season.

Coming into tonight's tilt, Gaborik had been quiet offensively. He had not generated that many scoring chances, did not have too many shots on goal and just did not look like the Gaborik from last season.

Gaborik changed that persona tonight and fueled the team offensively from the get go. One main reason for that could be because he was placed on a line with Rick Nash and Brad Richards.

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  Tags: andrew+ference, boston+bruins, brad+richards, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, rick+nash, taylor+pyatt, toronto+maple+leafs, tuukka+rask

Time To Turn Things Around

After an 0-2 start to the 48-game season, this is something that the New York Rangers need to do beginning tonight with their tilt against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts are coming off two games in which they did not play well defensively, took some bad penalties and did not get the offense they need from guys other than Brad Richards and Rick Nash. Put these three things together and it spells disaster for the New York Rangers.

Tonight, they take on a 2-0 Bruins hockey club, with one of those wins coming against the Blueshirts this past Saturday night in Boston at the TD Garden. In the team's, the Rangers were badly outplayed and left their netminder, Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves on 34 shots), out to dry.

With the roster that the Rangers have, there is no reason to believe that this will be a long losing streak. The team does have guys that can put the puck in the net, does have one of the best defensive corps in the league and also has one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL.

With that said, however, there is still some work to be done. For starters, the Rangers need to do a much better job in front of their goaltender. Too often on Saturday and Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, both Lundqvist and back-up netminder Martin Biron were hung out to dry as the opposition looked for rebounds or got into great position on top of the crease or in the slot. 

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash

Quiet On the Offensive Front

With a somewhat revamped offense and Rick Nash in the lineup, the New York Rangers' offense was quiet in their season opening 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Obviously, it was the first game and players still have to get used to each other, but nevertheless, the Blueshirts did not generate enough offensive pressure. While the Bruins' defensemen are big and do a good job of blocking shots, the Rangers did not do nearly enough to get the puck on Bruins' goaltender Tuukka Rask (just 20 shots on goal) nor did they create enough traffic in front of Rask to bother the Bruins' netminder..

What is somewhat worrisome, even though it was just the first game, the offense also looked lost. The club lacked finish, did not know when and where to put the puck on net from and did not generate the quality scoring chances that are needed to score in the NHL.

For the Rangers, believe it or not, this is nothing different. Many nights last season, the team relied on the goaltending of Henrik Lundqvist to keep them in the game long enough for their offense to may be score one or two goals.

Tonight, that simply did not work. The team took three penalties within a span of nine minutes in the first period and while they killed them off thanks to Lundqvist and his defense, the Bruins would manage to find the back of the net with just over six minutes to go in the period thanks to Milan Lucic.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, milan+lucic, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, pittsburgh+penguins, rick+nash, tuukka+rask

Cautious Optimism

This is exactly how New York Rangers' fans should approach the upcoming 48-game shortened NHL season.

Last season, the Blueshirts shocked many and were one of the best teams in the entire league last season. They did it with great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, great defense, and a committment by the whole team to play well on both sides of the puck.

Considering that the team's coach, John Tortorella, is still in place, the team will more than likely use the same philosphy this season. With that said, there is reason for the team and its fans to believe that this season could end up being a very special season on Broadway.

For starters, the team now has a balanced offense. With newcomer Rick Nash now in the fold, the Blueshirts now have two snipers in their arsenal with the likes of Nash and Marian Gaborik to go along with the likes of Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Carl Hagelin, and others.

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  Tags: brad+richards, carl+hagelin, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marc+staal, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan

Why the Rangers Can Win the Cup This Season

The New York Rangers surprised many people throughout the league last season when they not only won the Atlantic Division, but when they finished atop the Eastern Conference and were second in the entire NHL.

This season, should the Rangers do something similar, it should not come as a surprise. In fact, this season, there is a good chance that the Blueshirts can win their second Stanley Cup since 1994.

For starters, they have the best netminder in the league. With Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes, anything is possible.

Last season, Lundqvist became the first Ranger since John Vanbiesbrouck to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's best netminder. He did so by putting up great numbers and by being the team's best player on the ice night in and night out.

With a shortened season and many games in many nights, Lundqvist will be called upon a lot this season. For Lundqvist, that is just the way he likes it.

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  Tags: atlantic+division, brad+richards, carl+hagelin, chris+kreider, dan+girardi, derek+stepan, eastern+conference, henrik+lundqvist, john+vanbiesbrouck, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, rick+nash, ryan+callahan

Rangers’ Del Zotto Must Continue to Improve

When you are in the National Hockey League, it is not enough to have just one good season. 

This is the kind of attitude that New York Rangers' defenseman Michael Del Zotto must have when the puck drops on the upcoming season, whenever that may be. In fact, for Del Zotto, it is the only way that he will survive under team head coach John Tortorella.

When the 22-year-old entered the league in the 2009-10 season, Del Zotto showed how gifted he was and how he could be too four defenseman in the NHL. That season, Del Zotto posted 37 points (9 goals and 28 assists) in 80 games. Four of the nine goals were on the power play and he even managed to score one game-winning goal as well.

However, one statistic that was quite alarming was Del Zotto's -20. While there was no doubt that Del Zotto could play well on the offensive side of the puck, his defensive abilities certainly did not measure up to other defensemen in the league.

In his second season, Del Zotto hit the "sophomore slump" and struggled mightily with the Blueshirts. Due to his struggles, Del Zotto played in just 47 games with the Rangers scoring 2 goals and adding 9 assists to go along with a dismal -5. 

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Youth Will Be Served on Broadway

No matter when the next NHL season starts, it will be about youth when it comes to the New York Rangers.

Since the NHL lockout in 2004-05, the Blueshirts have been on a much different path than they were prior to the lockout. Instead of being a team that went out and signed or traded for old veterans or free agents, they have become an organization focused on developing their prospects/younger players while also being a team looking for the right pieces to fill the Rangers' organizational puzzle.

Much like last season, the upcoming season will be about developing the club's younger players while hoping guys like Rich Nash, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik (when he comes back from injury), and others can continue to help the team continue on the path to their ultimate goal: the Stanley Cup.

One such youngster who will have a lot of eyes on him is forward Chris Kreider. After winning a national college championship with the Boston College Eagles, Kreider burst onto the Stanley Cup Playoffs scene on Broadway when he made his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators in Game 3. 

While Kreider did not produce in his first game, he showed that he had tremendous speed, a nose for the net and that he was definitely an offensively gifted player that the Rangers would be lucky to have. Little did the Rangers know that Kreider offensive gifts would come to fruition in Game 6 when he scored the game winning goal for the Blueshirts to force a Game 7.

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A 1-2 Punch That is Not Guaranteed

In the hockey world, there have been several instances where two players display great chemistry together.

Last season, the New York Rangers had hoped for that with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. Unfortunately, while they did play well together at times, they certainly did not do so on a consistent basis. While each player had solid seasons last year, they did so on different lines because when it came down to it, their talents did not work as well together as people hoped.

Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, this was also a problem in the postseason. With Gaborik scoring over 40 goals last season, many hoped and expected that Richards and Gaborik would find their groove together when it mattered most and it never ended up working out. Gaborik played hurt for much of the postseason and again, the two players found themselves on different lines.

With Rick Nash now in the fold, many will expect Richards and the former Columbus Blue Jacket to work together like clockwork. Nash can undoubtedly put the puck in the net and Richards is someone who knows how to set-up his teammates (41 assists last season).

For the Rangers, Nash and Richards will need to be the 1-2 punch for the start of next season. With Gaborik out of the lineup until November/December, the team needs to have guys that can put the puck the net and Nash needs to come in and be that guy with the help of Richards.

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Scoring, Scoring, and Scoring

Looking at the team that just won the Stanley Cup, the Los Angeles Kings, it was easy to see why they won hockey’s Holy Grail.

They got great goaltending with Jonathan Quick, got timely goal scoring up and down the lineup and played terrific defense. This is what teams in hockey need to do to win and the Kings did it to a “T”.

Looking at the New York Rangers, the team has two of the above mentioned three characteristics it takes to win a Cup. In goal, the Blueshirts have perhaps the best netminder in all of hockey with Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes. The “King” was brilliant this year and whenever he was in net, the Rangers always had a chance to win a hockey game.

The Rangers’ defense was also outstanding. They block a lot of shots, they break up a lot of plays, they know when to join the rush and they do a good job of protecting Lundqvist.

However, when it comes down to it, the team just did not and does not have the scoring that was needed to win in the postseason. Marian Gaborik scored 41 goals in the regular season but in the postseason, was quiet on the offensive side. For now, we will just say it was that way because was hurt.

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Here We Go Again

That’s right folks. Tonight, the New York Rangers will take part in their third Game 6 and second in which they are down 3-2.

The team’s opponent, the New Jersey Devils, are playing for the right to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final. While they have not been perfect in this series, they have played good enough to beat the Blueshirts three times, including twice in a row in Games 4 and 5.

For the Rangers, none of this should come as nothing new. They have had their backs against the wall multiple times this postseason and each time, the team has come through with a win.

With that said, there is something that definitely feels different about this series. While Rangers’ fans are confident that their favorite team will come out victorious not only in Game 6, but in this series, there is a certain uneasiness that is present.

It could be the fact that the Devils have won two games in a row or it could be that the Rangers have yet to put a full 60 minutes together in this series. Whatever it is, it is something that the Rangers need to figure out before they get down to business tonight.

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Time to Go Off Script

For the New York Rangers, this postseason has been a story of deja vu.

There have been many similarities in each round from the number of games played, to the goal scorers in each game as well as the general outcome of each tilt. While this is certainly interesting, it is time for the Blueshirts to go off script.

In each series, the Rangers have taken a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 only to lose both times to the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals, respectively. In fact, only once in this whole postseason have the Rangers been able to win two straight games and that was back in Games 6 and 7 of their first round series against the Senators.

The Blueshirts are coming off a game in which they were badly outplayed by the New Jersey Devils, except for a portion of the third period when they got two quick goals from Dan Girardi and Chris Kreider. Luckily, the team got a terrific 36-save performance from their goaltender Henrik Lundqvist as he made extremely timely saves against the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique and others.

The Rangers were also very lucky that the goal posts were on their side on Saturday afternoon. The Devils hit four of them and had at least one gone in, it could have been a much different hockey game.

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Heads or Tails?

That is what this Eastern Conference Finals series is between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils because picking which team will advance to the Stanley Cup Final is like flipping a coin.

On one side, you have the No. 1 seed Blueshirts. These Rangers work hard, block a lot of shots, play physical, get great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and yet, have not been able to take control of a series for three straight rounds.

On the other side, you have the No. 6 seed Devils. These Devils have speed, know how to put a net front presence in front of Lundqvist, have many two-way players, and have a future hall of fame netminder in Martin Brodeur.

This is why it makes perfect sense that heading into this afternoon’s Game 3 at the Prudential Center, this series is tied up. In Game 1, the Blueshirts rode a three goal third period and the perfect goaltending of Lundqvist to a 3—0 shutout. In Game 2, the Devils fought hard all game long, used deflections to beat Lundqvist and got great goaltending from Brodeur.

For the Rangers to win this game, a number of things need to happen. For starters, the Blueshirts need offense. Guys like Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, and Ryan Callahan need to start scoring like they did in the regular season.

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That Old Feeling: Rangers Advance to Conference Finals to Take on The Devils

I am sure that this is something many of you New York Ranger fans are getting after the team defeated the Washington Capitals in Game 7 last night to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they will take on the New Jersey Devils.

Obviously, this is similar to 1994. While it did not take 7 games in 1994 to knock out the Capitals in the second round, the Rangers still came through with the win to advance to take on Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

18 years later, Brodeur is still the man between the pipes in New Jersey and has three Stanley Cups on his Hall of Fame resume. With that said, the Rangers team he will be facing this season is much different than the one he faced as a rookie in 1994.

Back to the Blueshirts. The Blueshirts have shown time and time again this season that when they need to win, they get it done.

Last night, the Rangers played “Ranger hockey” and got timely goal scoring, great goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, played great defense, got in on the forecheck, blocked a lot of shots and won the game. This is what made the team so successful in the regular season and when they have played this way in the postseason, they have been able to come through with a victory.

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Why the Rangers Will Win Tonight

When it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there is nothing like the excitement, nervousness and other emotions that come to life in a Game 7.

Tonight, the New York Rangers and their passionate fans will be experiencing all kinds of feelings when they take on the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

For both the Rangers and Capitals, this game marks the second seventh game of the postseason that they will be participating in. The first time around, the Rangers were able to beat the No. 8 seed Ottawa Senators by a score of 2-1 while the Capitals, the No. 7 seed, were able to beat the No. 2 seed Boston Bruins in overtime by the same score of 2-1.

While the Capitals’ have had success against the Rangers in Game 7’s before, this year will be different and for the first time since the 1996-97 season, the Blueshirts will be headed to the Eastern Conference Finals. Here are the reasons why:

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Quiet on The Offensive Front for the Blueshirts

As everyone knows, goals are at a minimum in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With the exception of the first round between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, there have been many low scoring games in this postseason. This is due to tighter defenses, players diving all over the place to block shots and great goaltending.

While these things have certainly been a factor for the New York Rangers, they are not the only reason why the team’s offense has been very quiet in their second round series with the Washington Capitals.

For starters, the Rangers are not getting any secondary scoring. Guys like Ruslan Fedotenko, Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust, Derek Stepan, John Mitchell, Carl Hagelin, Mike Rupp, and others have all been stymied and have not been able to put the puck in the net.

This is a problem because it ends up putting a ton of pressure on the likes of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, and Ryan Callahan to put the puck in the net. While it is right to expect them to be able to put the puck in the net because of what they accomplished in the regular season or in past postseasons, that does not mean that they can come through whenever the team needs them to.

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Rangers’ Power Play Comes Through When It Matters Most

The New York Rangers power play for what seems like the first time all year long was a huge factor in their 3-2 overtime victory in Game 5 against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal scored a power play goal just 1:35 into overtime to take a 3-2 series lead. For the Rangers, the play was simple as they won the face-off back to the point and Staal just put the puck on net, which is what a team is supposed to do when they have the man advantage. 

However, this game looked like it was going to end up a 2-1 Capitals win. However, Capitals’ forward Joel Ward took an ill-timed high-sticking double minor with 22 seconds to go on Rangers’ forward Carl Hagelin.

The Blueshirts were able to capitalize on the first part of the power play with 6.6 seconds to go when Brad Richards scored off of Callahan’s third shot past Braden Holtby to tie the game up. For now at least, this goal will go down as Richards’ biggest goal as a Blueshirt.

When overtime started, the team still had over a minute to go on the power play and again, the team was able to come through. If there was ever a time for the team’s power play to start clicking, it was this game. On both goals, the team threw plenty of pucks on Holtby, which again, is something that a team is supposed to do on the power play.

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Keep Pushing Through

This is exactly what the New York Rangers need to continue to do as they prepare for this afternoon’s Game 4 against the Washington Capitals.

Just three days ago, the Blueshirts pulled off a triple overtime win on a goal by Marian Gaborik. It was a goal that Gaborik needed to score, which will hopefully get him going, and it was a win the Rangers needed to prove to themselves that they could win at the Verizon Center in the playoffs after struggling to do so since Game 2 in April of 2009.

While the Rangers were able to come away with a big win in Game 3, that does not mean that they can take this afternoon off. It may not seem like it to some of you but believe it or not, this series is similar to the team’s opening round series against the Ottawa Senators. Like the first round, the Rangers split their first two games with the Capitals in this round and like in Game 3 against the Senators, the Rangers were able to come away with a victory against the Capitals in Game 3.

With that in mind, the Rangers need to take advantage of the 2-1 series lead they have now and use it to get a 3-1 series lead after this afternoon’s game. Of course, one can point out that the Rangers blew a 3-1 series lead in 2009 but this is a much different Rangers’ hockey club than the one that was on the ice three years ago.

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Gaborik Comes Through in Triple OT

There was no doubt that going into last night’s Game 3 between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center, Blueshirts’ 41-goal scorer Marian Gaborik was having trouble putting the puck in the net.

Well, that changed last night and did so in very dramatic fashion. Gaborik scored a goal in the third overtime off a nice feed from Brad Richards to give his hockey club the 2-1 victory and a 2-1 series lead.

For the Blueshirts, it was their first triple overtime win since 1971 when they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks at Madison Square Garden on a goal by Pete Stemkowski. The win also marked the Rangers’ first victory at the Verizon Center in the playoffs since Game 2 of 2009.

This was a game that could have gone either way. Both teams certainly played well enough to win but because Gaborik was able to come through and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was able to make one more save than Capitals’ netminder Braden Holtby, the result turned out to be in favor of the Rangers.

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Rangers Come Up Short

That is what the New York Rangers did tonight in their 3-2 Game 2 loss of the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.

After battling back from a 2-1 deficit on a goal by Ryan Callahan, Capitals’ team captain Alex Ovechkin scored the game winner on a power play with less than 8 minutes to go. The power play was a result of a holding penalty taken by Rangers’ forward Brad Richards.

With the win, the Capitals were able to even up the series at one game apiece as both teams will now prepare for Wednesday night’s Game 3 at the Verizon Center. The Rangers do not exactly have to go back to the drawing board but they must find more ways to make life difficult for Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby.

To beat Holtby, the Rangers need to do a better job of driving to the net and creating traffic in front of the net. On the first goal of the game, Richards drove to the net and was able to put a Marian Gaborik feed into an empty net. On the second goal, Rangers’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto’s shot from the point was redirected by Ryan Callahan a few feet outside the crease before getting by Holtby.

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Well-Shaped Roster Getting It Done

With the New York Rangers up 1-0 in their second round series over the Washington Capitals, it is easy to see that the Blueshirts are finally doing the right thing when it comes to shaping their roster.

This postseason is the example of that. The team and its head coach, John Tortorella, really want their youngsters to thrive and right now, several of them are doing just that.

However, the one that everyone is focused on heading into tonight’s Game 2 is Chris Kreider. Kreider, coming off a first star of the game performance in which he picked-up a goal and an assist, is showing the team and the rest of the NHL why he belongs in the league.

In the team’s 3-1 win in Game 1, Kreider scored his second game winning goal of the playoffs and showed how he can make a positive impact for this hockey club. At just 21 years of age, it is an impressive start and one that needs to continue if the Blueshirts want to keep on having success in the postseason.

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Focusing on Round 2

The New York Rangers will be doing just that tomorrow afternoon at Madison Square Garden as the team begins its second round series against the Washington Capitals.

For the Blueshirts, this playoff match-up has no surprises. The two teams met in both the 2009 and 2011 postseason and both times, the Capitals came away with the series victory.

The main difference is the seeding of these two clubs. The Rangers finished in the top spot in the Eastern Conference while the Capitals took the seventh seed.

For the Rangers to be successful in this series, the team will need to once again play “Ranger hockey”. The club will need to be all over the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich. As such, the Blueshirts should be prepared to block a ton of shots this series.

On the other side, the Rangers’ big offensive players need to step up and produce. Marian Gaborik really needs to start scoring some goals while others like Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider must continue to find ways to generate offense.

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What the Rangers Need to do to Win Game 7

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.

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Rangers Play Their Game to Extend Series to 7

When the New York Rangers play within themselves and play their style of hockey, they are an extremely tough team to beat.

The Blueshirts proved that tonight by beating the Ottawa Senators by a score of 3-2 in Game 6 to tie the series up at three apiece. The two teams will have two days off before meeting on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden for a Game 7.

The Rangers played the game the right way tonight and the way that they played all season long. They were able to capitalize on their power play opportunities, got good performances from the likes of Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider and were able to hold onto a two-goal third period lead. These are the things that made the Rangers successful in the regular season and proved tonight by playing this style of hockey, they can win games when they need to and when it counts.

There is a lot to be said about the play of Kreider. Kreider came to the Blueshirts after winning a National Championship with Boston College and has done nothing but stay in the lineup and show that he can play in the NHL.

Tonight, Kreider picked-up his first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal, a game-winning goal, in an extremely meaningful game. For the Blueshirts, tonight’s tilt was a do or die situation and Kreider came through looking like a veteran rather thank a rookie playing in just his fourth NHL/playoff game.

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Rangers In Serious Trouble After Being Shutout in Game 5

Being that the New York Rangers were shutout 2-0 tonight by Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators in Game 5, that could be the understatement of the season.

The Rangers did a much better job tonight of getting pucks on net and crashing for rebounds but Anderson turned away all 41 shots that were thrown at him for his second career shutout. The Rangers are now just one loss away from elimination in what would be an extremely disappointing end to the Blueshirts’ season.

It is clear that the Blueshirts are struggling to score goals when it matters in this series. While Brad Richards had more than a handful of shots on goal, he was not able to put the puck in the net when the team needed him the most. Guys like Marian Gaborik, Derek Stepan, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Brandon Dubinsky were all kept quiet and for a team that needs other players to step up and score goals, that is not a good thing.

The team’s power play also struggled tonight. While this is nothing new for the Rangers, the team’s power play was given a chance to succeed late in the third period but the club failed to generate a quality scoring chance and were not able to tie the game up and finished 0-4 on the night.

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Just Win

When it comes to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the only thing that matters is winning hockey games.

It does not matter how you do it, if it was ugly or easy or if you were outplayed. The only thing that matters is subtracting from that number 16.

Tonight, the Rangers will look to cut their number to 13 as they get set to take on the Ottawa Senators in Game 4 tonight at Scotiabank Place. Should the Blueshirts win tonight, they will be able to close out the series in Game 5 on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

With Blueshirts’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist in the zone, the team will need to find a way to provide more offensive support for their superstar netminder. The “King” had to be perfect on Monday and the team was lucky he was as they scored just one goal (Brian Boyle) the entire game.

Players like Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Brandon Dubinsky need to start producing. These guys were shut down by the Senators in Game 3 and have been quiet since their performances in Game 1.

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Rangers Look for Game 1 Success to Carry Over into Game 2

Given the way that they played Game 1, the New York Rangers have every reason to come into tonight’s Game 2 with the Ottawa Senators in a very cocky manner.

However, that would not be this year’s team style. Throughout the regular season, the Blueshirts never let themselves get too high or too low and because of that attitude, it allowed them to stay focused on the task at hand.

Tonight’s task for the Rangers will be to play the same exact way they did in Game 1. This means getting good goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, getting big goals from their goal scorers in Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, getting secondary offense from their depth players and playing disciplined.

On the other hand, there are some things that the Rangers could probably do better in tonight’s game. For starters, they need to generate more scoring opportunities on the power play. As most Rangers’ fans know, the team’s power play was inconsistent (that might be an understatement) throughout the regular season and often killed any momentum that they had until they started to click down the stretch. Special teams play is crucial in the postseason so the Rangers need to take advantage of any such chances they get this playoff season.

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Rangers’ Offense Comes Up Big in Game 1 Win

Coming into the series between the New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators, no one really knew what to expect except for what was on paper.

In Game 1 tonight at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers showed their fans and the league why they finished where they did in defeating the Ottawa Senators by a score of 4-2. For a Senators team that had dominated the Blueshirts at MSG the last few seasons, this was a nice change for Blueshirts’ fans.

There are several reasons why the Rangers won tonight’s game. For starters, the team got goals from players that are supposed to score goals. Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, and Brad Richards all scored for the Blueshirts while the team also got a goal from hard-working forward Brian Boyle.

The team’s defense was also terrific for the Rangers’ tonight. As expected, the team came out and blocked a lot of shots, broke up a lot of passes, and let their goaltender Henrik Lundqvist see the puck.

Speaking of Lundqvist, he was solid in making 30 saves on 32 Senators’ shots. There is no doubt that he kept the team in the lead at 1-0 in the first 10 minutes of the second period and in general, made the big saves when the team needed him to do so.

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  Tags: brad+richards, brian+boyle, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ryan+callahan

So It Begins

Well folks, it is finally here. The New York Rangers embark on their playoff journey tonight as they get set to take on the Ottawa Senators in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden.

A lot has been said and debated regarding this series and for now, it is time to put that all aside. Believe it or not, what was said means absolutely nothing because as fans, you do not and cannot control what will go on the ice in this series.

While this series looks easy for the Blueshirts based on the regular season standings, it will not be such once it begins. Remember, the Senators won the regular season series 3-1 and while it may mean nothing now, there is no doubt that the Senators have a history of giving the Blueshirts trouble.

The Senators know how to put the puck in the net. With players like Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek, Erik Karlsson, there is no doubt that the Senators will be able to generate some offense on Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist.

With that said, the Blueshirts know how to play defense. They block shots, they play the body, they know how to move the puck out of the zone and were third in the league in goals against.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, brad+richards, carl+hagelin, daniel+alfredsson, derek+stepan, erik+karlsson, henrik+lundqvist, jason+spezza, marian+gaborik, milan+michalek, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, ryan+callahan

Top Spot in the Division and Conference

That is what the 2011-12 New York Rangers are in terms of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference this season.

With their 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers last night, the Blueshirts clinched the top spot in both their division and conference for the first time since 1994. Yes, we all know what happened that year but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The Blueshirts jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period last night and never really looked back. Sure, they allowed the Flyers to score 3 goals and yes, Rangers’ goaltender Henrik Lundqvist certainly had to come up big but for the most part, this game was won in the first period.

The team got solid performances from Marian Gaborik (1 goal and 1 assist), Ryan McDonagh (1 goal and 1 assist), Brad Richards (2 assists) and Lundqvist (37 saves on 40 shots). The other usual suspects such as Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, and Brian Boyle also put forth solid efforts in the clinching victory.

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  Tags: brad+richards, brian+boyle, dan+girardi, henrik+lundqvist, marc+staal, marian+gaborik, new+york+rangers, philadelphia+flyers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan, ryan+mcdonagh, washington+capitals

Rangers Continue To Roll

They may have already clinched a playoff spot and they may have somewhat of a tight grip on the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference but the New York Rangers are on a roll right now.

Tonight, the team won its 50th game of the year by beating the struggling Montreal Canadiens by a score of 4-1 at Madison Square Garden. The team got another strong performance out of both Marian Gaborik (1 goal and 1 assist) and Brad Richards (1 goal and 2 assists) while also getting the goaltending they needed from Henrik Lundqvist (19 saves on 20 shots).

Gaborik and Richards are on fire at the right time for their hockey club. Gaborik picked up his 39th goal of the season and added an assist while Richards added his 25th goal of the season as well as two assists.

It may have taken a long time for Gaborik and Richards to work well together on the same line but it just goes to show you that patience is everything in the NHL. Yes, Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella broke the pair up earlier in the season but was smart enough to put them together later on when their games were both going strong.

Another Rangers’ player who is on fire, believe it or not, is defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto picked-up 2 goals (his first 2-goal game of his career) and an assist and now has 10 goals and 31 assists for 41 points on the season.

While his defensive game still needs some work, Del Zotto has had a terrific bounce back season for the Blueshirts this year. He looks a lot more confident with the puck and his offensive game looks much like it did in his first season in the league back in 2009-10.

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  Tags: boston+bruins, brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, john+tortorella, marian+gaborik, michael+del+zotto, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, ryan+callahan, steven+mcdonald+extra+effort+award

Finding Ways to Win

That has been the story for the New York Rangers all season long and has led them to the top spot not only in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, but also in the entire National Hockey League.

The Blueshirts proved once again last night that they can find ways to win without having their best stuff in a 4-3 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. It certainly was not their prettiest game but it was one in which they picked-up two more points to stay ahead of the charging Pittsburgh Penguins in the division and Conference.

Last night, the Blueshirts got a great performance from their leading scorer Marian Gaborik. Gaborik scored two goals (36 and 37) and was dominant offensively for his hockey club.

The team also got another solid performance out of Brad Richards. Richards picked-up two assists and also set up Gaborik’s terrific second goal of the game.

Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist made enough saves to give his team a chance to win a hockey game. He was not at his best and once again allowed three goals but made some great saves late in the third period and in the shootout to pick-up his 35th victory of the season.

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  Tags: brad+richards, henrik+lundqvist, marian+gaborik, minnesota+wild, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, st.+louis+blues, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets

Looking to Close Out the Homestand with a Win Against the Sabres

Prior to the 7-game homestand, the New York Rangers knew that it would be a great opportunity to really establish home ice before the postseason and pick-up some points to help build on their Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings lead.

In six games so far, the Blueshirts have gone 4-2. The team has beat the New York Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings while losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche.

Tonight’s game between the Rangers and Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden is an important one for both clubs. For the Rangers, it is an opportunity to go back to being three points ahead of the Penguins as the Penguins beat the Nashville Predators last night by a score of 5-1.

For the Sabres, it is an opportunity to get two huge points to put them in the top eight in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres have been playing playoff hockey for the last month or so and have really turned their season around after a rough few months and after last night’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Penguins, the Sabres can move into the eighth spot over the Washington Capitals with a win.

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  Tags: artem+anisimov, brad+richards, brandon+dubinsky, brian+boyle, buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, colorado+avalanche, derek+stepan, detroit+red+wings, marian+gaborik, nashville+predators, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan, washington+capitals

One Point Closer to the 100-point mark

Due to having a men’s league hockey game last night, I was not able to catch any of the New York Rangers 2-1 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings last night at Madison Square Garden..

Based on the highlights I did manage to see, I know that Rangers’ forward Brad Richards scored a nice first period goal and that team captain Ryan Callahan scored his 27th goal of the season on his 27th birthday in overtime to give his team a much needed two points. Both of these players continue to produce for their hockey club and come playoff time, that could end up going a long way.

What I can tell you is that based on the way the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing right now, the Blueshirts are going to need to continue to pick-up points in the standings. The Penguins are easily the league’s hottest team right now and are clicking on all cylinders.

The Rangers will be back in action tomorrow night to close out their homestand against the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are currently tied with the Washington Capitals for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference so you know that they are going to be fighting hard to win the hockey game tomorrow night at MSG.

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  Tags: brad+richards, buffalo+sabres, detroit+red+wings, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, ryan+callahan

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