Friday, April 25, 2008

The Fault is In The Mirror

So Game 1 is history and the Rangers lost 5-4 but notice one thing the Penguins did not win the game, the Rangers lost it plain and simple. The Rangers did more than enough to snatch defeat from the hands of victory and we hope that many a Ranger has trouble sleeping this evening for how this game turned out.

Where to begin as to why this game went south for the Rangers has to starts with the same problem that Rangers have had all season which is the failure to blow out a team when you have them on the ropes. When you are up 3-0 so very early in the second period the goal is not to let up but rather to go for the kill.

The Penguins can talk all they want about how they can come back from deficits all they wish but if the Rangers score goals 4 or 5 during that span then the Penguins do not gather either the energy or momentum to come back. If the Penguins wish to claim otherwise they may but it is not reality.

Once the Rangers went up 3-0 on Avery's goal, the Rangers let up and the Penguin's version of Sean Avery, Jarkko Ruutu went to work. We will not bother to complain about his stick waving with Rozsival but instead will give him a lot of credit for waking up his teammates.

While the Rangers had let up, Ruutu was the player who turned his own game up. Ruutu hit, he annoyed and he got under the skin of a few Rangers. In other words he out Averyed Sean Avery in this game. In our eyes Ruutu for the 10 hits, the job that Ruutu did to wake up his teammates deserved the Game's First Star not Crosby.

We will not bother crying about the officiating either because unless you lived under a rock you knew that it has been piss poor all year. Expecting the officials to get better just because they are in the NHL playoffs is naive to say the least.

We will acknowledge that there is nothing more disappointing than to see a penalty call be the determining point in a playoff game. Whether or not you are a Ranger or Penguin fan, a NHL fan or simply a hockey fan then a playoff game should be decided by a call that at the very least is questionable.

But we have to also go back and say that if the Rangers had kept the foot on the gas and did not let up for an entire 60 minutes then nobody would be arguing either way about that one call. The Rangers put themselves in that position where it came down to one power play.

At the same time we saw a lot of things that really do bolster our own belief that the Rangers can win this series and we will start with how the Rangers beat themselves. Again this was not the Penguins winning this game it was the Rangers giving it to them.

It was the Penguins scoring some lucky goals that normally would not have gone in under normal circumstances. Whether they were flukes or deflections it does not matter because just about every other evening they do not go in and the Penguins might have just used up all their luck.

The Rangers did not play the kind of defense they know they have to play every evening. It was sloppy and we are not going to even think for a second the layoff was a valid excuse because it is not.

The Rangers forgot to play with the playoff intensity that you must have to win playoff games. That intensity is what gives a team an edge to remain focused and intent on sticking to their game plan.

Henrik was not perfect and did not rescue the Rangers, he was somewhat due but at the same time he can not be held to blame for goals that go in off skates either.

At the same time, the Penguin's Marc-Andre Fleury does not have any excuses for the goals he gave up and for the Rangers that is a very good sign. The Rangers scored goals from right in front of him so they have to take comfort that Fleury is not the whiz he was supposedly against the toothless Senators.

A inch or so to the right and Game one goes into overtime as that post saved Fleury from wasting all those Penguin goals.

We are also very sure that the usual Renney critics are rushing to complain about how the coach did not make in game adjustments but we really have to ask how do you adjust for deflected goals? Fluke Goals? Answer you can not so why are people freaking out then?

The answer is the same old story, people simply look at Renney not freaking out and then he is not upset. Tell us something did Sutter freaking out make any sort of difference with the Rangers or the results? No it did not, freaking out will simply make the already poor officials hyper-sensitive.

We can hope that away from the glare of both media and fans that Sather and his staff are chewing out Campbell and the rest of the NHL offices. Other than that the reality is that the best way to avoid suspect calls determining the outcome is to not put yourself in said situation like the Rangers did.

So let us turn direction to Game 2 as the Rangers can play better and odds are will.

Start with remembering what worked to get the 3-0 lead, attacking the net, using motion and parking someone in front of Fleury.

Figure out a way to play good hockey in a second period because if there has been one place where the Rangers have consistently played poorly it has been the second period.

Realize that the Penguins did not score 'honest" goals as just two goal were the result of direct shots. Tighten up on the defensive end and the results will be different.

Keep hitting the Penguins at every opportunity, sooner or later they will react poorly and it will draw the Rangers some calls.

We have a strange suggestion and that is to drop Shanny down one line for Nigel Dawes. Nothing against Shanny but as much as he wants to think he has something in the tank, we are believing that his game is not as effective anymore.

At the same time, Dawes needs a spark and we believe Gomez can provide it while Avery will ride some shotgun to protect the smaller Dawes. Dawes has been a tad too quiet but we do believe he has a lot more to offer.

Realize that the Penguins are much more concerned about playing at Madison Square Garden than the Rangers are in Pittsburgh. Take Game 2 and you will put tremendous pressure on the Penguins knowing they have not beaten the Rangers there.

Last of all this one is for the Ranger fans: Do not panic, take the lead from the calm demeanor of the team.

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