My whole life I have been told “the two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey” and all my life I have believed this theory because I have seen it erased what seems like the majority of the time. But the time has to come for me to alter the phrase to “the two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey unless that two-goal lead is against the Rangers.”
When the Bruins went up 4-2 just 26 seconds into the third period, I thought that maybe the Rangers would catch the Bruins taking their foot off the gas, pop in a third goal and cut the lead to one and then use the momentum change to tie the game. Maybe it was the Coors Light bringing out the optimist in me, but for me to think that scenario was even remotely possible even for a second, I’m surprised I don’t still leave milk and cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Who the eff was I kidding? The Rangers weren’t going to score a third goal, let alone a third and fourth goal and then a fifth goal, which would have been needed to win the game at the time when little did we know it was going to take six goals to beat the Bruins in Game 2. The 2012-13 Rangers have scored six goals three times in 57 games this season and they weren’t about to make it a fourth in a playoff game, on the road, against the Bruins.
The Bruins got five goals from five different players and when you’re getting goals from Torey Krug (four previous career NHL games) and Johnny Boychuk (22 previous goals in 299 regular season and playoff games combined) and Greg Campbell (one previous goal in 40 playoff games), maybe you’re not going to be beaten this spring or summer and maybe the overused and overplayed “saying” will hold true in this series.
That saying is “it’s not a series until the home team loses.” It’s a saying I have never understood, but it’s been used since the Bruins won Game 2 on Sunday and it’s a saying we will hear until the start of Game 3. And if the Rangers win Game 3, it’s a saying we will hear until Game 4 and we will keep hearing until the home team does in fact lose a game in this series. But even if the Rangers were to win Games 3 and 4 at home, according to the saying they are only going to lose Game 5 before winning Game 6 and then losing Game 7. So if the Rangers are going to lose this series next Wednesday in Game 7 in Boston, why am I even watching? I’m watching because right now the chances are slim this thing lasts until Game 7. There’s a chance this thing might not even get back to Boston for Game 5.
The Rangers were embarrassed on Sunday afternoon in Boston in a way they haven’t been embarrassed since losing to Florida 3-1 at home on March 21 in what was the worst hockey game I have ever attended. So let’s start the Thoughts off with the man responsible for the embarrassing play on the ice.
– I gave John Tortorella credit for his preparation and game plan for Game 7 against Washington, but now it’s time to take that credit back. I’m not sure how the Rangers weren’t up for Game 2 from their first shift, but they were absolutely dominated in the opening minutes and it led to a Bruins goal at just 5:28 of the game. I don’t expect the Rangers to come out that flat-footed in Game 3 at home in a must-win game, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. Nothing should surprise anyone with this team whether it’s positive or negative because “surprise” is the one word I would use to describe Tortorella’s tenure as Rangers coach. (Did I just accidentally give him the name of his book about his Rangers years once he is eventually fired? Surprise: John Tortorella’s Unexpected Reign as Rangers Coach.)
– The Rangers tied the game at 1 when Ryan Callahan beat Dougie Hamilton (just typing his name makes me think of Pierre McGuire blushing and trying to hide his pants tent between the benches) to a loose puck that led to a breakaway. The sequence that led to Callahan skating free almost looked like Hamilton’s skates were breaking down like Forrest Gump’s leg braces. First the blades, then the TUUKs, then the rivets then the boots then the laces. The only difference is Hamilton didn’t become faster. I didn’t think there was any way any 19-year-old defenseman in the NHL could be that slow, but apparently there is. Can we get a Hamilton vs. Brian Boyle goal line-to-goal line race during warmups before Game 3?
– Rick Nash came out from wherever he had been hiding for the first eight playoff games and tied the game at 2 by going top tit. Aside from a hot goalie, the scariest thing to face in the playoffs is a confident goal scorer, which is why I didn’t feel good about the Washington series with Alexander Ovechkin entering the playoffs on such a streak and scoring in Game 1 before he started to hang and play the role of four-line bruiser rather than world-class sniper. And if Nash has his confidence back after ending his goal-less postseason then maybe we won’t watch the Rangers season end at the Garden this week.
– Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist on Sunday. Hell, he wasn’t even Mike Dunham. But I’m not going to get on Lundqvist because that’s just not something I’m going to do. He knows he played poorly and I know he will bounce back in Game 3 because that’s what Henrik Lundqvist does. Lundqvist never gave up five goals in 43 games during the regular season, but he gave up four goals four times and in the four games following a game in which he gave up four goals, he went 4-0 with a 1.71 GAA and .934 save percentage. So no, I’m not worried about Lundqvist.
– “I have tried to be your friend, but you will not listen to me, so you have invited this monster…” That’s what Stevie Janowski tells Kenny Powers’ gym class when they’re not supposed to watch him pitch. And that’s what I’m telling John Tortorella (power-play specialist according to Pierre McGuire) and the Rangers power play.
How can a power play go 2-for-36? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s a real question. I want an answer. How can the power play go 2-for-36? Maybe if the writers and reporters who attend Tortorella postgame press conferences would stop having thumb parties and ask a real question rather than the nonsensical questions they actually do ask we could get an answer to this because it deserves an answer. But according to Tortorella, the power play actually wasn’t bad despite going 0-for-5 in Game 2 since he said, “Our power play was better. Our power play was better today. We didn’t score, but it was better.” I guess we’re judging special teams on how they look rather than results now. I also guess most Rangers fans judge coaching that way too.
– The Rangers could have really used Dan Girardi in the lineup on Sunday. I hope he’s able to play on Tuesday because the guy who filled in for him in Game 2, who finished the game with a minus-4 rating, can’t possibly play in Game 3.
– Michael Del Zotto isn’t an offensive defenseman. Michael Del Zotto isn’t a defensive defenseman. Michael Del Zotto is just some guy that makes terrible decisions, shoots pucks into shin pads, misses the net and is a liability in his own zone. I don’t think there’s a position for that.
– No one should be surprised when the Rangers’ fourth line gives up a goal. The line consists of an overpaid, underachieving 33-year-old former star in Brad Richards, an overrated, should-have-been-traded-last-year 22-year-old first-round pick in Chris Kreider and an actual 35-year-old fourth-line checking forward and fighter in Arron Asham. That combination certainly makes me think Textbook Playoff Fourth Line!
– Torey Krug wouldn’t be playing in this series if Dennis Seidenberg or Andrew Ference or Wade Redden were healthy. It took three defenseman to be injured at the same time for him to get into the Bruins lineup and he has two goals and an assist in two games. It’s Claude Julien getting as lucky as he did in the 2010-11 playoffs when he had to insert Tyler Seguin into the lineup against Tampa Bay and the rookie single-handedly beat the Lightning. That Claude is one great coach!
– It was nice to see Derek Dorsett show some heart and fight Shawn Thornton in the third period, but why fight when trailing 5-2 with 6:51 left? Why not start something at the beginning of the period when it’s 4-2 with 19:36 left and the game is still within reach? Rangers hockey!
It’s been eight days since the Rangers played their last game at Madison Square Garden. All three of their games at home this postseason have been must-win games and they’re 3-0 in those games. If they’re not 4-0 when I write the Game 3 Thoughts there won’t be a point to writing the Game 4 Thoughts.