Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
To a man, the Rangers understood the Penguins would play with desperation following their Game 1 defeat at the Garden on Thursday.
Who wouldn’t have?
Thus, an intelligent man or woman — or I — would have expected the Blueshirts, whose work ethic and attention to detail were unassailable throughout their Presidents’ Trophy-winning regular season, would have been committed to matching the Penguins’ Hunger Game for Saturday’s encore on Broadway.
Not even close.
“I don’t think we got up to our standard,” Mats Zuccarello said after the Game 2, 4-3 defeat that wasn’t close to that close. “I think everybody has to step it up.”
The Rangers’ execution was wanting, but it was the effort that was most disappointing.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
Oh, those subtle subplots of the playoffs. This is part of what makes it fun, no?
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault spent part of Friday afternoon voicing his opinion about the Penguins crashing the crease and disturbing his goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, just to make sure it’s out there for the start of Game 2 on Saturday night at the Garden.
Vigneault made it clear he wants to see a little more diligence on the parts of the referees going forward in this first-round series — or at least more than they saw in Thursday’s 2-1 win in Game 1.
“Hank plays in the blue paint,” Vigneault said, referring to how Lundqvist plays deep in his net and almost always in the crease. “When he gets hit, the blue paint is the goaltender, because there’s a willingness [from the Penguins] to go there and disturb. There’s a lot of stuff from certain of their players that we knew was going to happen after the whistle. We hope that the referees are going to see it and call it, and we’re going to play whistle-to-whistle and be a very disciplined team.”
via the NHL YouTube channel,
The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins squared off in Game 1 of the their series. Listen in as microphones pick up the action on the ice.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Penguins, who started what figures to be a short spring, showed up in Gotham as a convincing facsimile of the Penguins you've come to know and mourn.
"We didn't do it early enough tonight," Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy said in the losing dressing room. "But we feel we have the guys in the room to do it."
Well, that's one of us.
A team that hasn't scored four times in the same hockey game since March 12 scored its usual one or two, this time one to be precise, and only the functional brilliance of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, particularly in a second-period cadenza in which he turned back all 14 New York Rangers shots, kept the inaugural episode of their Eastern Conference playoffs from reaching its fully prescribed ugliness.
So much for the working theory that the Penguins, removed from their customary brain-locking Stanley Cup-or-bust postseason approach, would benefit from the urgent simplicity of just trying to, you know, win a hockey game.
from Pat Pickens of the New York Times,
They may have a roster that includes Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury, but these Pittsburgh Penguins are different.
Renowned for their skill, the Penguins are used to being the hunted and not the hunters. They had won their division the last two years and had finished first or second in their division (now the Metropolitan, previously the Atlantic) every season since 2006-7.
But this season, Mike Johnston’s first as coach, the Penguins finished 18th in the N.H.L. in goals, scoring 2.7 per game. They narrowly reached the postseason, finishing fourth in their division, and are considered a heavy underdog in their series with the Rangers, which begins Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Still, the Rangers are not taking their rivals lightly.
“They’re a very dangerous team on their transition,” defenseman Dan Girardi said. “Coming through the neutral zone on an odd-man rush or with speed, they obviously have Crosby and Malkin, guys who can control the game.”
A healthy Crosby is a primary concern for the Rangers. This season, in which he had to deal with mumps and a variety of linemates, Crosby registered 84 points — third-most in the league — in only 77 games.
The Blueshirts are a confident team, driven as they have been since reporting to camp in September by the need to right last June’s wrong. They led the NHL in points, in victories, in ROWs (regulation and overtime wins), in victories on the road. They were third in both goals-per and goals against-per. They led the NHL in goal-differential and in five-on-five ratio.
And so while there may not be a marquee superpower as a consensus Stanley Cup favorite, there are the Rangers.
-Larry Brooks of the New York Post where you can read more on the New York Rangers.
from Neil Best of Newsday,
It has been a long time since the New York area had a hockey regular season such as this one - not only on the ice but also as reflected by television ratings.
Take the Islanders: Their games on MSG Networks have averaged 0.60 percent of homes, which might not sound like much but is 76 percent better than at this point last season.
The Rangers were up 26 percent to 1.63 percent of area homes entering Monday night's game and easily will surpass the Knicks for the first time since 2007-08.
via Evan Peaslee of Sportsnet,
Late in the second period Byfuglien cross-checked Rangers forward J.T. Miller in the back of the head. The 30-year-old Byfuglien disguised it as a consequence of falling, but there’s no denying he drilled a completely defenseless player on the ice for no reason.
Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault certainly didn’t hide his disdain for the play when talking with the media after the game.
"(It was) violent, deliberate, could have broken his neck," said Vigneault. "I don't know what's going to happen, but it was one of the most vicious cross-checks I've seen this year."
According to Sportsnet's John Shannon the play will be given extra attention by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Barring an unforeseen development over the next 48 hours, Martin St. Louis should return to the Rangers lineup Thursday night in Minnesota.
St. Louis will have missed eight games after he sits out Tuesday’s match here against the Jets because of the MCL sprain he suffered late in the March 15 Garden match against the Panthers.
“This is the first day I’ve skated with my teammates, and I think for me it’s a nice progression where it’s not the same intensity as a real practice and I can really control my pace a little bit better,” St. Louis said following the morning skate. “I’ve skated four or five times by myself. With a full practice [Wednesday], I think it will allow me to be ready to go on Thursday.”
St. Louis, who resumed skating last Thursday in Ottawa, appeared to skate freely and in full stride as he worked for nearly a half-hour after his teammates had left the ice. He had skated Thursday through Sunday before staying off the ice on Monday’s travel day.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
It seems like the Rangers have been trying to solve this problem forever, and they can never quite find the right solution.
The power play has been close to a decade-long bugaboo for the Blueshirts, seemingly never a strength and always a source of frustration. If it has had its moments this season — which it has — right now, at the most critical time with the playoffs approaching, it has gone absolutely dormant.
“It’s not nearly good enough, without a doubt,” coach Alain Vigneault said after Sunday’s 0-for-5 performance over 7:21 of man-advantage time during a 5-2 loss to the Capitals at the Garden. “We’re going to take a look at some tape and make the adjustments we need to make.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org