There is plenty of blame to go around when trying to pin down why the Rangers lost Game 3 as far as we are concerned but one area continues to drive us nuts. That area is the failure to cleanly clear the zone mainly on the penalty kill.
The Blame Game (Part One)
We can talk away about how the Rangers put 3 of the Devil goals into their own net but the bottom line is had the Rangers cleared the zone strongly then neither power play goals scored by the Devils would have happened. This has been going on for 3 games in this series and bluntly if not for the Devils being so inept on their own power play then the Rangers do not have a 2-1 series lead.
You can not use soft passes, you can not weakly try to lift the puck out of the zone, you blast it, you make sure that the zone is clear so you can change the penalty killers and keep fresh players on there. When you go back and look at the tape of the game you will see how on both Devil power play goals that the Rangers put the puck It was having tired players on ice that led to the power play goals.
Basically failing to clear the zone is basically the start of a domino effect as the non-clear is the first mistake. Keeping tired players on the penalty kill becomes the second mistake, failing to gain control the third and then giving up the scoring chance the final mistake.
The Blame Game (Part 2)
Ranger fans will say that Henrik Lundqvist played an outstanding game and that if not for his efforts that the game does not even get to overtime. That much is true but there is more to that than is being said.
When a goalie is forced to make as many high quality saves as Lundqvist did then the story should not be the great job but the poor team defense that was giving up so many quality scoring chances. Yes one wants your goalie to make great saves but not as many as Lundqvist was asked to make in Game 3.
In the first 2 games, the real key to how the Rangers won was that they were playing strong defense, the Rangers were limiting the Devil in scoring chances but more importantly it was how they were limiting them.
The Rangers kept the Devils to the outside, giving Henrik clear vision to the shots and not allowing deflected shots in on Lundqvist. In Game 3 it was 3 deflected shots that were scored by the Devils.
The Blame Game (Part 3)
OK let us blame the refs, the linesman and the replay officials and get it over with. Seriously since the game has ended the constant theme has been about how bad the refs were towards the Rangers in this game with their calls.
Funny thing if one goes to a Devils forum and Devil fans will say their team is getting the short end of the calls, a Bruin forum the same and even a Canadian forum. There are 8 different playoff series and there are 16 sets of fans who are screaming that their team is getting the short end of the calls from the NHL officials.
16 sets of fans who are swearing that the outcome of their team's fate is being stolen by the way games are being called. So the question is if 16 teams are getting the short end of the calls then how do they fix things? The NHL of course will argue that if they have 16 angry teams then they are doing things right.
We do not think so as we are seeing some very inconsistent officiating by the NHL refs during this playoffs. We are seeing outside officials making calls that the closer official should have had a better view of but is not getting over ruled.
The NHL will have us believe that the calls are actually being consistent by the standards that the NHL believes is right. Now before people freak out allow us to explain because right or wrong the refs are calling the game based on key elements.
On hooking, tripping and interference calls, the refs tend to look to see if the "victimized" player is moving his feet at the time of the penalty. If the refs see movement then the odds are really good that right or wrong a player will get a call.
On the stick fouls, they are looking for the position of where the stick is when they make the call. If your stick is above someone's knees then odds are all a player has to be doing is fall down and he will draw a call. Notice that the moment a stick goes near someone's waist even if it does not touch them they are getting called.
It is almost automatic that if your stick is waist high and you lose control or possession of the stick you are going to get called. If you lean your body with the stick above the knees it is automatic that you get called for hooking even if you hardly touched anyone. It is the perception that you have by your body language that is leading to the call.
But what really truly is annoying us though is a call that we are not seeing at all being made in the playoffs and that has been the diving call. Pick a series, pick any series and look to see if anyone has been called for diving.
Odds are that you will not find a diving call having been made. Now that is a question that we would like to see answered as we have watched 3 other series (Sharks/Flames, Ducks/Stars and Habs/Bruins) and we are seeing dives by all teams go unpunished.
Since we are not fans of those teams then what reason would be have to question why diving is not being called. If you touch a goalie he is going down faster than he had been shot and nobody is calling them out on it.
The Avery Antic
People are going to talk about what Sean Avery did to Marty Brodeur during Game Three's 5 on 3 that the Rangers had. We are pretty sure that we will see arguments pro and con for the issue so here is our message to them; it was a non-call so relax and move on
If anything we did not like it for 2 reasons, one Avery was in our eyes closing off the shooting lanes for his teammates (which is what we believe Chris Drury said to him to get him to stop) so he was not helping the Rangers score there.
The second was that Avery had his stick in Brodeur's face and in our eyes that is the bigger sin. Yell at him, jump up and down in front of him but keep that stick away from his head. From the various replays it looked like Avery was coming way too close to hitting Brodeur in the head.
Using your stick like that is so totally wrong as you risk hitting someone in the face as they skate by. Brodeur may have been safe with his mask on but given how Avery already had one very weak goalie interference called against him that if he had touched anyone with the stick it would have been a double minor.
Keep the stick down next time Avery but keep trying to get under Brodeur's skin.
Maybe we get Monday off but who knows anymore
3 hours ago