Sat 12 Apr 2008
The Rangers will look to put a stranglehold on the series on Sunday night as the Devils visit the Garden on Sunday. To paraphrase Chico Escuela, April 13 has been very, very good to the Rangers during their history.
In the current edition of Blueshirt Bulletin, 2007 Lester Patrick Trophy winner John Halligan wrote that the Rangers won their second Stanley Cup on April 13, 1933 and their third Stanley Cup on April 14, 1940. While the Rangers wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be winning the Stanley Cup this April 13, they very well may be one step closer to making sure the New Jersey Devils get an early start to their summer vacation.
However, Game 3 is still over 30 hours away as I sit typing so let us focus on what transpired in Game 2. Once again, we watched as the Rangers out-deviled the New Jersey Devils. The Blueshirts managed to block shots, kill penalties and generally frustrate the Devils for over 58 minutes.
Once again the Devils had the better of the play for the first two periods. And once again the Rangers controlled the final 20 minutes of play – a fact that is not lost on both teams.
“What they’re doing to us now is similar to what our organization did to them a couple of years back,” Jamie Langenbrunner told Larry Brooks of the New York Post following the Game 2 loss. “No matter what, they’ve been able to find the way to win these games in the third period.
Henrik Lundqvist expressed a similar sentiment to Brooks prior to the Rangers taking the second game.
“When the game is close going into the third period, we know we can win, Ã¢â‚¬Å“ The King stated. “We have so much confidence against them in those situations.”
The third period numbers are starling when you look at them. The Rangers have outscored the Devils 12-2 through the regular season and playoffs. Even more startling is the breakdown in the first two games of the series. The Rangers lead that important battle 5-1.
So what can we expect in Game 3?
The Devils desperation meter has to be at an 11 on a scale of 1-10. They have not scored more than two goals against the Rangers in any of the 10 games this season. Their power play continues to cough and wheeze. It is one thing not to score on the power play, but it is another thing to not generate much offense on the man advantage. The one saving grace for the Devils is the same can be said of the Rangers power play.
If you thought the devils were trying to get under LundqvistÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skin in Game 2, wait until you see Game 3. If you thought it was bad when john Madden sat on HenrikÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s head as if he was trying to hatch an egg, Game 3 is going to be worse. Expect the Devils to pull a page out of the Sean Avery handbook. If the Minnesota announcers thought Colorado was trying to take liberties with Niklas Backstrom, wait until you see what New Jersey does on Sunday night.
As for the Rangers, Tom Renney is in a good position. The Rangers are playing good enough to win, but Ã¢â‚¬Å“bad enoughÃ¢â‚¬Â for the coach to keep harping on his team to stay focused and to keep doing the little things they need to do to win.
The Blueshirts need to keep on with the idea of working the puck down low along the goal line and behind the net on Martin Brodeur. The more pressure they put on Marty, the greater the chance there will be another lucky break/bounce or another misplay by the Jersey net minder.
With the game at the Garden, Renney will be able to dictate the tempo of the game because he will have the last change. It will be easier for Renney to keep Jaromir Jagr away from the likes of Dainius Zubrus, Michael Rupp and Colin White. With an extra day of rest between Games 3 and 4, Renney might consider double shifting Jagr in an attempt to spark the offense and take advantage of favorable matchups.
One part of the game the Rangers must improve is face-offs. John Madden was dominating Ranger centers all night long, as he won 65% of his draws. Conversely, Chris Drury had a miserable night winning only 27%. I can understand Renney wanting the right-handed shooting Drury on the ice with the face-offs to the right of Lundqvist, but he needs to go with the hot hand. Last night that was Brandon Dubinsky who won 12 of 20 draws.
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