It’s hard to blame a Vezina winning goalie for losing a game in front of anemic offense, but somehow it feels like the Rangers could have won this game in regulation if Henrik Lundqvist hadn’t allowed a couple duffers. Whether Rangers fans want to admit it or not, it seems like this has become a regular occurrence in the playoffs. With a weak power play and an inconsistent offense, the Rangers need their netminder to not only stand on his head, but do a few spins while he’s at it. It may not be fair, but it’s the reality for the Rangers and their goalie, who now trail the Boston Bruins 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The first goal comes to mind as one The King would like back. I get it was Chara taking the shot, but the shot was point blank, with no screen, and it went through Lundqvist’s gut. It was an ugly one to give up in this tight game. Take that away and the Rangers are up 2-0 14 seconds into the third period. With the way the Rangers play defense, who knows what happens?
That said, the Rangers could have Ken Dryden and Henrik Lundqvist playing in net at the same time and if they don’t get more offense going in this series, they will lose. They gave up 48 shots, including 16 shots in 15 minutes of overtime play. They were on pace to give up 60 shots in three overtimes of play. Considering how many others they blocked, the Rangers have issues all over the ice keeping up with the Bruins speed and intensity. You can compliment their defense for keeping things to the outside, but that only gets you so far. Consistent offense takes more pressure off a goalie Credit them for playing their usual tough defense, but their offense has to give them more of a break if they’re going to win this series. The Rangers cannot count on 1-0 wins and disappearing superstars from their opponent this time around.
As for the Bruins, they’ll mostly look to not have the same drop off from Game 1 to 2 that they did in the first round. As good as they should feel after that dominating overtime, this team was a minute away from being dispatched by the Leafs. The Rangers haven’t lost at home this playoffs so the Bruins need to hold their home ice advantage in this series. Tuukka Rask’s second goal was nothing pretty to give up either so he’ll need to stay sharp. The biggest challenge for this team will be to maintain its level of play as opposed to the Rangers, who know they must excel beyond what they’ve shown in the playoffs thus far.
Third: Ryan McDonagh – First for that laser with one second left in the second to tie things up. That shot changed the complexion of regulation and gave the Rangers a chance to steal this game. That goes along with his continued improved play in his own end. McDonagh stumbled out of the gate this season, but those days are long past him. The Rangers need more from their blue line, but fortunately they’re getting plenty from this guy.
Second: Brad Marchand – Better late than never for his first goal of the playoffs. He showed great speed as always in getting to the slot and putting away the winner. Now he needs to carry on that success. Jaromir Jagr has been a floating log on the ice with him and it’s tough to blame Marchand for not thriving with the shaken up chemistry. Perhaps this goal knocks a few things into place.
First: Zdeno Chara – He logged over 38 minutes, scored the opening goal of the game, and well he’s Zdeno Chara. He plays half of every game at this point and he looks no worse in the last minute than the first. Truly an all-time gamer in the playoffs.
Cory Buck is an NHL writer for Sabre Noise. You can like Cory on Facebook (after you’ve liked Sabre Noise itself) or follow him on Twitter @TheBuckMopsHere.