The Rangers are heading back to The Garden on Easter Sunday with the series tied 1-1. Typically, it is not bad to split the opening series on the road. However, the Rangers have a sour taste in their mouths because they know they should be returning up 2-0.
After trailing twice in the first period, the Rangers took the lead at the 14:47 mark of the second period. From that point on, they went into full defensive mode in hopes to protect the lead. The problem with that is, it is only going to generate more chances for the opposing team. The Canadiens doubled the Rangers shots on goal in the final period and finally tied the game with 17 seconds to go. The refs swallowed their whistles (common theme of the night) and did not call a blatant cross check on Shea Weber on the late scoring play for the Habs. Grabner did not have the puck and was just flat out tossed to the ice and the Canadiens scored seconds after. Now this still does not excuse Nick Holden for poor stick play that also contributed to the goal.
If the Rangers want to win this series, they need to stop leaving Henrik Lundqvist out to dry. Time and time again, Hank is bailing the team out. He gives the team a solid chance to win, and his teammates need to take advantage of that. A goalie should never have 54 saves in a game and still wind up with a loss. In a perfect world, the defense would stop coughing up the puck and hoping that Lundqvist makes a miraculous save.
Playing with a lead in a playoff game is obviously scary; you want to be as cautious as possible in order to not blow it. However, this does not mean that you should abandon your initial game plan and just play totally defensive. The third period of Game Two was a prime example of how it can go wrong. A majority of the period was played in the Rangers’ zone and wound up just being target practice on Lundqvist. It was only a matter of time until the Habs got one in.
"He gave us what you want from a goaltender: a chance to win the game. He gave us a chance." – AV on @HLundqvist30 after tonight's OT loss. pic.twitter.com/6sx3dc4FA8
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 15, 2017
From the point of the late tying goal up until the overtime winner, it was not very hard to tell what the outcome was going to be. The momentum had totally shifted and the Rangers just looked totally lost. In the overtime period, New York struggled to string two passes together, let alone generate any offense. The Rangers all of a sudden looked like the District 5 Ducks (Pre-Gordon Bombay).
Now it is a clean slate and it is a best of five series starting in New York. As long as the defense tightens up, the Rangers should have a great chance to advance. The offense has been generating plenty of quality scoring opportunities and they need to continue to do so. On the Rangers first goal of the second game, Michael Grabner took off on a breakaway and absolutely undressed Carey Price.
If the offense can start taking advantage of their power play opportunities, they will really be in business. To start the series, the Rangers are 0-7 with a man advantage. It is very important to come out playing hard in Game Three in order to regain the momentum of the series. As long as the Rangers do not completely rely on Lundqvist, they can take the lead back.
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