Once again, the New York Rangers find themselves on the sour end of an OT loss after blowing another late lead. Out of all the leads they've blown this postseason this could be the one that proves fatal. Every other time they've managed to bounce back, but this loss was brutal. Fortunately, the Rangers have home ice advance to lean on in game 6, which has helped them regain momentum throughout the playoffs.
The Rangers need their big name stars to start playing like stars if they want to win this series. If it wasn't for the other guys like Jimmy Vesey, Oscar Lindbergh, Mika Zibanejad, and Jesper Fast making big plays for this squad, this series might already be over. Kreider, Nash, Zucc, Stepan, and Stall need to step up in games 6 and 7 if the Rangers are going to advance. Anyone watching this series, no matter who you are rooting for, knows the Rangers are the better overall team and should be entering game 6 at home with a 3-2 series lead. This is the second game they've blow late in the 3rd and then lost in OT, so actually the Rangers should be resting right now awaiting the Capitals or Penguins in the conference finals. A huge opportunity is being missed, now if the Rangers do make it to the next round they'll be just as tired and beat up as the Capitals or Penguins. That's if they even make it to the next round.
Even after this soul crushing defeat I have faith the Rangers will win this series. Erik Karlsson, is clearly the best player in the series even when he's banged up, but overall the Rangers are the better team by far. Game 6 they'll win without a doubt, probably feed off the crowd to a nice blowout win like in games 3 and 4. Game 7 will be the tough one, they should've won today, and still managed to loss, so winning game 7 on the road is going to be a real challenge. Still like the Rangers to win it all this year, I believe it's their year still, however they're making it real tough on themselves. Let's see if the Rangers got any more postseason magic left to win the next two games to advance to the conference finals.
I don't know what it is about this Rangers team, but they seem to enjoy falling behind in their playoff series, looking dead in the water to fans, and then turning it on decimating their opponent. It happened last series with the Montreal Canadiens, now the Rangers are doing the same to Ottawa. The Rangers were down 2-0 in this series after blowing game 2 in brutal fashion. When the Rangers lost in double OT after blowing a 2 goal lead in regulation, I figured that was the fatal blow. This Rangers team apparently isn't the past Rangers teams though, because they're getting it done even after tough losses. The home ice advantage might be what helps.
It seems like every time the Rangers needed a big win this post season they've gotten it at home, and then carried the momentum back on the road. Well, they got a big first win in this series on Tuesday, winning 3-1 controlling for the majority of the game. Tonight, they did the same. The Rangers just looked like the better team, and that's because they are. Lundqvist was unbelievable, he was making saves on point blank shooters, stoning anyone trying to shield and deflect in front of the net, and he shut the Senators out up until the final 5 minutes of the game. At that point the Rangers had a 4 goal lead, so it wasn't a big deal that he got beat short side high in garbage time.
For the Rangers, Tanner Glass was probably player of the game. He had 2 assists and 7 hits, setting the Rangers up offensively, all the while setting the tone defensively, great job on both ends of the ice. He also beat the shit out of some Senators player as regulation was running down, which is always a good look. Oscar Lindberg, was a big piece on the offensive end of the ice tonight with his 2 goals on 3 shots. J.T. Miller also played well adding an assist and couple hits to the stat sheet. Nice to see players other than Staal, McDonaugh Nash, Stepan, Krieder, and Zucc putting in the work, makes them way more effective. The result is a clear indicator of that.
The Rangers can go all the way, I've said that from the get go. With Pittsburgh taking out the Capitals, barring any crazy comeback from Washington, the Rangers will match up with a beat up Penguins squad. It'll be a rematch of last year and you know the Rangers are seeking revenge. With all the injuries to Pittsburgh the Rangers would be the favorite in my opinion going in if Crosby is still out. The Rangers still need two more wins, based off the way the Senators looked at end of this game they're dead. The Rangers are in their head and at this point, I think Ottawa knows the Rangers have them beat. Rangers in 6 then it's off to Pittsburgh, calling it now.
After game 3 when Sidney Crosby left the game with a concussion and the Capitals finally won in OT, the series had looked like it flipped 180 degrees. Without Crosby how were the Penguins, who were already plagued with so many other injuries, supposed to overcome the Capitals that are just a sleeping giant. Well, game 4 showed us all everything we needed to see.
The Penguins were feeding off the home crowd's energy early, they still had the lead in the series, they still had a ton of talent on the ice, and the Capitals were struggling, so not all hope was lost with the devastating Crosby injury. Pittsburgh needed to get out to a lead early and that's exactly what they did. Four minutes into the first period Hornqvist got behind the defense, received a beaut of a pass from Maata, and beat Holtby for the goal, 1-0 Pittsburgh. In the second period Jake Guentzel tried passing the puck to his teammate cutting to the net, however it was off line, but it deflected off the defensemans skate and into the net for 2-0 Pittsburgh lead. Even without Crosby it looked like Penguins were still dominating the series like they have for the entire series with the exception of game 3.
The Capitals would continue to fight. Later in the second period the Caps played the puck off the boards, Kuznetsoz would get it, and blows it past Fleury for the goal, Caps trail 2-1. Still in the second, not even a minute after the goal they had just scored, T.J. Oshie, takes a shot that misses, Schmidt gets the rebound and buries it in the back on the net to tie up the game. It was looking like game 4 was mirroring game 3, except opposite. Caps jumped out to the early 2-0 lead only to blow it within a minute, and then ultimately win the game. Well, the Penguins did just that in game 4. Jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, only to blow it within a minute, and then they ended up winning the game. With the Penguins on the power play, Malkin passed it to Justin Schultz who blasted a goal past Holtby on a one timer giving the Pens a 3-2 lead. They'd hold onto that lead for the rest of the game and now hold a 3-1 series lead.
The 3-1 series lead has been overcome plenty of times, but at this point the Capitals seem dead. Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklaus Backstrom can't be non factors like they were last night. The way Holtby has played all series is completely unacceptable and uncharacteristic. Seems like this whole Caps choking thing is in their heads a lot more than we think because they look like a completely different team in the postseason and it's not a good thing. Definitely time to slam that panic button Caps fans because it's not looking like it's your year.
I'm certainly no doctor, however if I were I'd say it's safe to say Sidney Crosby is out for the rest of the NHL playoffs. About 5 minutes into the first period Sidney Crosby was laid out while already off balance after trying to score a goal. He was coming across the front of the net, got denied by the goalie, was caught off balance, and caught a cross check straight across the head. The blow was brutal, as a matter of fact I'm pretty sure his head might still be rolling around on the ice because Niskanen decapitated him. Was it a dirty hit? Yeah, but it's also hockey everything's dirty, this is as close to no rules as it gets and the more barbaric the sport the better. They always say in football keep your head on a swivel, the same should apply to hockey, apparently it doesn't.
The Penguins were steam rolling the Capitals through the first two games of this series and Sidney Crosby was a huge part of that. Obviously without Crosby the Penguins aren't nearly the same threat. His injury seemed to give the Capitals some momentum, later on in the period the Capitals took the lead, and for the rest of the game they seemed mostly in control. They scored again in the third period and it looked they were going to finally get a win in this series and all of the sudden this series had a whole different outlook. Then, with under two minutes left in the game the Capitals blew it in typical Caps fashion. Malkin scored a goal and then Malkin assisted on a goal in under 50 seconds to tie up the game and send it to overtime. The Capitals would end up winning on a power play in overtime and now the series is a whole lot more interesting.
If Crosby can't come back I can't see the Penguins winning this series he's just too important and does too much for the Penguins for them to survive without him. Capitals may just have caught the biggest of all breaks and it may actually be their year. If Crosby can come back, the Penguins will have no problem finishing what they started. This all lies on if Crosby can come back or not.
The New Jersey Devils have won the NHL Draft lottery landing them the #1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Devils had an 8.5% chance of winning the lottery and that's apparently all they needed. The NHL lottery is super confusing just like everything else the NHL does, so I'm not exactly too sure how this works, I'm just assuming it's like the NBA lottery. Anyways, I hate it, just give the team with the worst record the first overall pick and do it by record, not chance. If anything the Las Vegas Knights should've been guaranteed the #1 overall pick since they're an expansion team and will certainly need it. Regardless, the Devils, who were not an awful team this year, basically just ensured another superstar will be joining their team. As for the rest of the lottery order, here it is:
1. New Jersey Devils (70 points)
2. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points)
3. Dallas Stars (79 points)
4. Colorado Avalanche (48 points)
5. Vancouver Canucks (69 points)
6. Las Vegas Knights (N/A)
7. Phoenix Coyotes (70 points)
8. Buffalo Sabres (78 points)
9. Florida Panthers (81 points)
10. Los Angeles Kings (86 points)
12. Carolina Hurricanes (87 points)
13. Winnipeg Jets (87 points)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning (94 points)
15. New York Islanders (94 points)
Flyers were the big winners of the lottery, somehow they shot up all the way to the #2 overall pick, despite having a really good season racking up 88 points. I'm not saying it's fixed, but it's fixed. Of course they don't fix it for the Islanders or the Lightning to move up since their franchises seem to not be doing all that great in the business aspect of things. Flyers on the other hand, they'd be great to have competing in the playoffs, so lets just give em a lil boost. Bullshit, NHL pulling some phony shit expecting no one to notice. Same shit with the Dallas Stars, they got put above teams that deserved the #3 overall pick way more than they did, but Dallas is a bigger market, so they get the pick. That's my thoughts on the lottery, only one reason the NHL does this, so they can control which young players go where. Kinda like the NBA.
After game 3, I'd say just about every and anybody who watched the first three games of this series wrote the Rangers off after game three. Canadiens looked bigger, faster, stronger, and the Rangers just looked outmatched. Game 4 rolled around the Rangers gave their home crowd a gutsy performance and they pulled out a tight win against Montreal to tie up the series. At this point it still seemed like the Canadiens were the better team since they had dominated the Rangers for the majority of the series despite it being tied. Game 5 was when that all changed. The game was neck and neck going into overtime. The overtime period would not be neck and neck though, it'd be the Rangers controlling the game for 14 minutes before winning. The Rangers now had a 3-2 lead in the series coming home for game 6 at the Garden with a chance to advance to the conference semi-finals.
Game 6 at the Garden was rocking last night, those fans were begging for something to cheer about, and the Rangers would deliver. The Canadiens took a 1-0 lead early, it was hard not to immediately think "here we go again", although it was so early into a long game. The first period came and went, the Canadiens held on to their 1-0 lead ad the Rangers struggled to find any sort of offense. That would change in the second period when the Rangers were on the power play. Mats Zuccarello, received the puck not even 10 feet from the net and he sneaks it past Carey Price for a goal that is usually stuffed by a goalie of Price's caliber. The first goal the Rangers had scored on a power play in 15 tries in this series. The game was now tied at one goal at piece and momentum was rolling with the Rangers. About ten minutes later the Rangers were having great puck movement in the Canadiens zone, Kevin Hayes, who had an outstanding game, dished the puck from behind the net to J.T. Miller who then passed the puck across the front of the net to Mats Zuccarello, who buried the puck in the back of the net for his second goal of the night. Rangers take the lead 2-1 and need to last 20 minutes to advance to the next round.
Rangers had a few scares in the third period in terms of blowing the lead. When you have Henrik Lundqvist in net it certainly gives you a bit more confidence. This guy made big save after big save last night, on several occasions the Canadiens were right in front of the net putting point blank shots on King Lundqvist and he was denying all of them. The Candiens had a power play in the third after a Kreider high stick and they were getting great looks, the Rangers held strong however, and the were able to survive it without blowing the lead. Price was pulled with about 90 seconds left in the game, Rangers continue to look sharp defensively, Lundqvist continue to be a brick wall in goal, and with 20 seconds left Derek Stepan put the nail in the coffin for the Canadiens when he scored from beyond half court on the open net. Rangers won 3-1 and will advance to conference semi-finals to play the winner of the Boston Bruins-Ottawa Senators series.
The Buffalo Sabres are wiping the slate clean yet again. Since Terry Pegula bought the team in 2011 they haven't had a winning season. I'm not counting 2011 because he bought them late in that season. After years of being horrible, acquiring high draft picks, and rebuilding for the future, they were ready to take that next step the past two years. They got better for sure, but it never materialized. After an improved 2015-16 season, the Sabres were expected to makes some noise this year with additions of young talent and free agent signings. Instead, they were just mediocre once again. The nail in coffin for Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray was failing to go above .500 in the past two seasons. Bylsma was once a Stanley Cup Champion coach, now it's starting to look more and more like he lucked into that position, inheriting a great Penguins team. Watching ownership burn it all down as a fan is never easy, although there's a lot to look forward to with this franchise.
The Sabres are stocked with young talent. Jack Eichel is 20 years old and is already proving to be a top notch center in the NHL. The Sabres are loaded with young talent at the center position creating so much depth and balance through their lines. Ryan O'Reilly, 25, and Sam Reinhart, 21, are the other young stud centers that give this franchise hope for the future. Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe are going to make a very solid defensive line for years to come for the Sabres, just gotta give them some time. Kyle Okposo is a veteran wing that's going to rack up a nice amount of points for your team, he's a former Islander so I can attest to that. Robin Lenher is a solid young goaltender, he isn't anything special, however he's above average in a league where it's hard to find consistently good goaltending.
Sabres are a very capable team, under the right coaching and management they should easily be able to return the glory days of the organization. I'm talking the French connection joined with Danny Gare. They have plenty of young talent, I'm not sure if they'll really be able to make a splash in free agency, although they'll have another good pick in the NHL draft this year. The only perk of losing is that you get to acquire young talent if you scout properly. Don't worry Sabre fans you've never experienced winning a Stanley Cup, so it's like you don't even know what you're missing out on. I will say this, the Sabres certainly seem to have the young talent to start laying the foundation of a championship team. Just find the right coach to bring it all together.
Last night, one of the most insane playoff hockey series I've ever witnessed, got a whole lot insaner. The Capitals had split the first two games at home with the Maple Leafs, not exactly ideal going into the next two games on the road. This made game 3 even more important for the Capitals to win and the urgency was visible early. The Capitals got off to an early 1-0 lead when they got out onto a fastbreak and Nate Schmidt dished a back handed pass to Nicklas Backstrom for the goal right in front of the net. That was about 3 minutes into the game and it looked like Capitals were finally going to take command of this series. This theory was backed up when T.J. Oshie passed to Ovechkin who slapped a one timer into the back of the net like a sniper from distance for a 2-0 lead. Capitals looked dominant, but the Maple Leafs never looked nervous.
The young, inexperienced Maple Leafs were playing physical, putting Caps bodies on the floor left and right, fighting for the puck with even more effort, and it was beginning to pay off. Auston Matthews got the puck right around mid-ice, proceeded to cut up the entire Capitals defense by himself, got his shot stoned, but would get the rebound and finish. 2-1 as the Maple Leafs strike back cutting the daunting 2-0 lead in half before the end of the first period.
Second period the Capitals jumped right back on the offensive. Marcus Johansson took a shot that was stuffed by Frederick Andersen, but on the rebound Evgeny Kuznetsov put it in the back of the net. Capitals led 3-1 with 14 minutes left in the period. From that point on the game was mostly Maple Leafs. I don't know what happened, it seems like the Capitals just let off the gas, and it cost them big time.
Maple Leafs had a break away off a T.J. Oshie miss, it was Mitch Minor on the break away, somehow, someway, Holtby comes flying out of net takes a desperation dive at the puck gets a piece of it and stops the Maple Leafs from an easy goal. Seemed like it was the Caps night, maybe even the Caps year. That was until Nazem Kadri blasted a shot from the blue line that was deflected in by Conor Brown for the goal. 3-2 Capitals still led, but the Maple Leafs were now within striking distance. A few minutes later, there's a battle for the puck behind the Capitals goal, Auston Matthews gets it out, he kicks it to William Nylander, his shot is blocked, however he gets his own rebound burying the second chance in the back of the net. The score is all tied up with 40 seconds to go in the second period. What an exhilarating 40 minutes of playoff hockey with 20 minutes still left to be played.
3rd period wasn't great, not in comparison to the first two. Just great save after great save by both the goalies keeping their teams chances alive. No one would end up scoring and this one would be decided in OT.
OT wasn't even 2 minutes long. Maple Leafs on one of their first possesions of the OT period setup their offense passed around the puck a little, Reiley had the puck up top near the blue line, he passed to Kadri, Kadri passed to Bozak, and Tyler Bozak tipped the puck into the goal for the win. This was on a powerplay due to a high stick at the end of regulation. Penalties will cost ya and they certainly did last night for the Capitals.
Maple Leafs take their first lead in a playoff series since 2004, yeah no wonder the Toronto fans are extra fucking insane, they've been deprived for so long, they need this. I love the Toronto fans, so fucking loud, they pack in and outside the building, just true die-heart fans who are craving for more playoff hockey, and are willing to sacrifice themselves for a Stanley Cup trophy. That's what I call true fandom. As for the Capitals, it looks like it's not their year. Every damn year this happens, the Caps destroy the regular season leaving you with no doubt this is their year, how could it not be they are men amongst boys out there, and then playoff hockey just turns everything around, it's an anomaly, and no one knows how or why, it's just accepted. I feel bad for the Capitals goaltender Holtby, literally played out of his god damn mind, every goal scored on him was deflection or rebound, maybe if the Capitals defenders didn't have their heads up their asses they would've won this game. Oh well, I'm happy with the result, go Leafs go.
Taking a puck to the face doesn't sound like the ideal situation for anyone, but for 19-year old Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski, it was just a minor bump in the road during last night's playoff game against the Penguins.
The Blue Jackets rookie had himself quite the roller-coaster night, as he was able to record his first career playoff goal in the first period of Game 3 loss last night, but his wild night didn't end there. In the second period of last night's game, the rookie defenseman took a puck directly to the face, and immediately had to exit the game, as he leaked blood all over the ice - but his night was not over. To the surprise of, well probably no one because Hockey players don't abide by the laws of pain or injury, Werenski returned to the ice in the third period, with he eye sown up and swollen. He would play through the third, but unfortunately the swelling became too much for him in OT, and he was unable to continue, as he was virtually blind in his right eye.
The Blue Jackets announced this morning that Zach Werenski would miss the remainder of the season with the injury, and with his team down 3-0 to the Penguins, that may only be one more game. But you've gotta tip your hat to this young savage, for not only getting himself his first career game, but by showing the world once again that there is "tough", and then there is "Hockey Tough".
Last night the final playoff spot left was secured by the Toronto Maple Leafs, following their 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Maple Leafs were god awful last season, they won 29 games, and managed to only accumulate 69 points. This left them with the #1 overall pick in the NHL draft, where they selected Auston Matthews, who turned this entire franchise around in the blink of an eye.
Matthews doesn't deserve all the credit though, the Maple Leafs front office has done a great job of turning this team around. They added Frederick Andersen, the stud goalie from Anaheim that brought them deep into the last couple Stanley Cup playoffs with his ridiculous play in net. He's been nice security blanket for them in goal this season, which has probably made the second biggest impact besides for Matthews on this team. The Maple Leafs also got healthy, James van Riemsdyk played a full season this year having one of, if not his best season yet. He's been Auston Matthews right hand man all season making Matthews job a whole lot easier. Connor Brown also got to play in his first full year and he certainly took advantage. He's no superstar, but without him this team certainly is not where they are because he provided a lot of points this season. Morgan Rielly has consistently been a solid defenseman for Toronto the last few years, but when Nikita Zaitsev broke onto the scene, really securing that defense up, is when the Maple Leafs were able to take that next step defensively. These key additions made all the difference in the Maple Leafs going from worst in the league to a playoff team.