Did I think Game 2 was over? Of course I did. When Benoit Pouliot scored 4:18 after Martin St. Louis completed the rare perfect 3-on-2, not only did I think Game 2 was over, I thought the series was over.
The Rangers were coming off a 4-1 Game 1 win and had the Flyers in an early two-goal deficit with Ray Emery proving why Flyers fans were hoping Steve Mason would play Game 2, even an injured Steve Mason. And then everything changed. The Rangers gave away a two-goal lead, Game 2 and home-ice advantage in the series, and now they head to Philadelphia in what has become a best-of-5 series with the Flyers having home-ice, as if those two additional regular-season wins and regulation wins never happened.
– Game 2 changed when Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi decided that playing defense wasn’t something that interested them in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. I’m willing to give McDonagh a pass for how he played (or didn’t really care to play) Jakub Voracek on his goal because without McDonagh, the Rangers aren’t even in the playoffs. But I’m not willing to give Dan Girardi a free pass, especially after how he single-handedly handed the Bruins the series a year ago. I will let this picture do all the work in showing Girardi’s “effort” to complement McDonagh’s gliding half-assed poke check.
What was Dan Girardi doing here? Maybe for a moment he thought he was at the Keefe household drinking wine and eating lasagna and porchetta and watching Rangers playoff hockey. He didn’t have the wine or lasagna or porchetta, but he did watch the play and goal develop just like I did from a couch, he just happened to have a better seat.
This goal not only cut the two-goal lead in half before going on to prove, but it showed the Flyers after a 15-shot effort in Game 1 that the Rangers’ defense could be beat and that Henrik Lundqvist could be beat without needing a deflection or lucky bounce. The goal shifted the momentum and feel of the game and the Rangers became another statistic in the “worst lead in hockey” theory, proving that if they weren’t going to score the third goal to take a 3-0 lead, they were were better off only having one.
– Before the series I talked with Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer about the Flyers’ strategy coming into the series and if they would look to draw the Rangers into a physical game and get them off their finesse game. He thought that could be the case and that the Flyers would want to play physical, but be smart about it.
In Game 1, the Flyers were dumb about being physical, especially as the game got out of hand. And in Game 2, they opened the game the same way, getting two penalties within the first 6:55 of the game, one of which the Rangers scored a power-play goal on. But once Carl Hagelin got called for holding at 9:56 of the first period, the Rangers became the undisciplined team. The Flyers got what they came into the series wanting and just in time before Game 2 and the series got out of hand.
– Two diving calls against one team in the same game in the playoffs? Yes, this is real life.
– At times, Rick Nash can be one of the best pure goal scorers in the world. These times happen when he is riding one of his patented hot steaks that I talked about here. This postseason, Nash has two assists in two playoff games and has played well. But with the Rangers in now two postseasons, Nash has one playoff goal in 14 games. That’s not going to cut it.
I have refrained from saying anything negative about Nash because I have always been a fan of his since his 2002-03 rookie season and because I campaigned so hard for the Rangers to trade for him at the 2011-12 Trade Deadline, blamed the Eastern Conference finals loss on the lack of trading for him and then campaigned hard again fora trade for him in the summer before it eventually happened. I always said it would take a lot for me to start “Ladies and gentlemen”-ing Rick Nash, but we are nearing that point if he doesn’t start producing the way he can and has for long stretches of time.
– Here is what I said about Henrik Lundqvist after Game 1:
It was as if the Rangers stole a win without having to use their ace and when you figure that Lundqvist will steal AT LEAST one game in this series, getting by without needing to rely on him in one game, especially Game 1, could be the difference in the series.
Well, now we have played two games in which Lundqvist hasn’t stolen a game for the Rangers or even really looked like the Henrik Lundqvist we saw during the regular season. I guess he could have looked as good as possible in Game 1, but he was never really tested, so it’s hard to say other than that he had allowed one goal and had a .933 save percentage. It’s time for Lundqvist to steal that game or games now.
– What the eff happened when Henrik Lundqvist was supposed to be pulled for an extra attacker? I blame Lundqvist for what happened because he came nearly all the way to the blue and then stopped either after not getting a signal to come to the bench or being unsure if he was given the signal to go to the bench. But when Lundqvist started skating toward the bench, Brad Richards, who was going to go for Lundqvist, must have seen Lundqvist headed toward the bench and hopped the bench in order to time Lundqvist’s arrival to give him the most amount of time to join the play. So when Lundqvist decided to stop, Richards had likely assumed he was arriving as he was joining the forecheck. Chances are the Rangers lose the game 3-2 or even 4-2, like they did, had they not been called for too many men. But they never even gave themselves a chance for a last-minute, empty-net miracle. It was the perfect ending for a perfect Game 2 collapse.