Saturday, April 9, 2011

Rangers Rout Devils 5-2, Now Hope For From Lightning

The only thing the New York Rangers could control today was their own result against the New Jersey Devils and they did just that in a 5-2 win this afternoon. Now the Rangers playoff fate is in the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning as they need a win in either regulation or OT to put New York in as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Rangers won today with the type of collective effort that was sorely lacking on Thursday against Atlanta.

In a must win game the Rangers fell behind the Devils just 2:03 into the game on a goal from Nick Palmieri when he deflected an Ilya Kovakchuk shot through Henrik Lundqvist.

The nervousness in MSG reached another level, but the Rangers would respond just 1:11 later with a goal from Chris Drury. Drury drive the net hard and converted the rebound on his backhand. The goal was Drury's first of the season on his first shift since February 3.

Kovakchuk capped off his dominant first period with a goal of his own,with 41.8 seconds left in the period. On the play he out muscled Prospal and ripped the shot high on Lundqvist. The goal gave the Devils a 2-1 lead at the end of one and drained a lot of energy out of MSG.

The energy came back quickly when Wojtek Wolski scored off the rush just 1:52 into the second period. The play was a 2-on-1 rush with Stepan down the left side wall. After looking like he would pass Wolski fired and beat Brodeur short side.

With the next goal critical Ryan McDonagh scored at 11:59 to give the Rangers their first lead of the game. The goal came when Vinny Prospal passed from behind the net to McDonagh at the right faceoff dot. The goal was McDonagh's first of his career.

Brandon Prust extended the Rangers lead to 4-2 at 16:06 of the period. Prust converted the rebound from a Dubinsky shot. The goal capped an excellent three goal period that gives the Rangers control over their part if today's action.

The Rangers kept up the pressure and extended to a 5-2 lead at 10:49 of the third on a goal from Vinny Prospal. Artem Anisimov broke down the right side on a 2-on-1 and fed a beauty across to Prospal for the finish.

Michael Sauer and Ryan McDonagh played excellent games and showed why this defense core will be one of the best in the league for years to come.

Brian Boyle set the tone hitting anything that moved and hurling himself in front of shots.

Have to give Drury credit with all the injuries and struggles his goal was crucial goal.
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Rangers Season Comes Down To Game 82 Again, Will It End Differently This Time?

The New York Rangers season is coming down to Game 82 to determine whether the team will make the playoffs or have the season come up just short.  No, that is not a review of what happened last year, but what the situation is for the second straight season as the Rangers take to the ice today against the rival Devils needing a win to have a chance to make the playoffs.  The difference this time is that the Rangers don’t control their own destiny as a win for New York alone is not enough to put them into the postseason.  Along with their own win they need help from the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Lightning have no real motivation seeing as how they are locked into the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The only way the season will be decided during the afternoon hours is if the Rangers lose in regulation.  A win in for New York would mean that they need Carolina to lose in either regulation or overtime.  A shootout loss for New York would require a Carolina regulation loss for the Rangers season to continue.  

If they truly do remember the heartbreak of last year in Philadelphia, then expect a tremendous effort to ensure they do what they can to avoid it again.  The team might have relinquished the control of the situation overall, but they can still control what they do on the ice tomorrow.  These are the kinds of games where you truly find out about the character of your team as a whole and the individuals wearing their sweaters.  The final score is what ultimately matters, but who will rise to the occasion and who will shrink into the background is just as intriguing a watch as the game goes on.  The Rangers young players have done their part all season long in helping put the team in this position and now, in Game 82, it is time for the veterans to lead the way and force Carolina to have to do something Saturday night.

The time for talk is over and now the Rangers must either answer the call or sit home and watch until they come back in the fall.