The New York Rangers are not scheduled to make a selection in the 2013 NHL Draft until the 3rd round at pick #65 – their lowest first pick ever. Previously, the Rangers lowest first draft pick was defenseman Filip Novak who was drafted in the 2nd round (64th overall) in 2000 in Glen Sather’s first draft as GM.

Neil Smith dealt away the Rangers first round pick as part of the trade that allowed the Rangers to move up to 4th in 1999 to draft Pavel Brendl. The Blueshirts should have had the 38th overall pick, but Sather swapped second round picks with the Detroit Red Wings who used the 38th pick to draft Tomas Kopecky. The Rangers received the 95th overall pick (3rd rounder) in the deal – which they used to select Dominic Moore.

The Rangers own Nashville’s 3rd round pick (#65), Columbus’ 3rd round pick (#75) and their own 3rd round pick (# 80).

Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie described how he is dealing with the missing 1st and 2nd round picks and what his plans are for the Rangers three 3rd round selections.

“This is the first time in my career I have had to wait so long to make a pick. But these are still important picks,” Clark explained to Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com.

“The difference is that in the first round we tend to take the best player available regardless of position. Here we can think more about filling a need in the organization. For example we are a little light on defense because all of our young (defensemen) are already in the NHL for the most part. So that is one area we would target. And seeing if we can find a possible future No. 1 goaltender, as well.”

It is interesting reading Clark’s thoughts. I would think since the odds are better to get an impact player in the 1st round; teams would be looking to fill specific needs in the 1st round (and even the 2nd round). Teams would then switch to taking the best players available as you get deeper in the draft in an attempt to build as deep an organization as possible. Even if you end up stockpiling talent at a position, you could always use it in trades.

So what is Clark’s game plan approaching the 2013 NHL Draft.

“You might not be able to fill your biggest need in the third round, even with three thirds like we have,” Clark told Cerny. “For example, our biggest needs within the organization are a big-time offensive forward and a skilled offensive defenseman. But you probably are only going to get those type of players in the first round, not in the third. So we shift our focus to filling some of our other needs.”

In preparing my 3rd round draft preview I have taken Clark’s strategy into consideration. I have come up with a list of six potential 3rd round targets that are listed in alphabetical order.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), McKeen’s (McK), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters (NAS), European skaters (ES), North American goaltenders (NAG) and European goaltenders (EG). THN lists each prospect’s NHL Translation. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

NICK BAPTISTE – RW
THN: # 63 (Not Available) —– CS: # 61 NAS —– McK: # 64
ISS: # 48 (Brenden Morrow)

The 6-foot-1 and 189 Baptiste played for Sudbury (OHL) last season and scored 21 goals and 27 assists in 66 games. ISS sees him as a “2nd/3rd line winger while adding excellent secondary scoring. THN called him a “speedster with nice hands [who] had a great second half”.

ISS Scouting report: “Baptiste plays the game at a high tempo and has a relentless offensive motor. Possesses dynamic hands to match his quick outside speed …. Has great puck presence and the ability to burn opposition defenders while having the vision to find his teammates in the offensive zone. His defensive awareness and instincts have come a long way and are a work in progress …. It is evident in his intensity and work ethic that Nick has a passion for the game and development hasn’t stopped as he continues to improve.”

MATT BUCKLES – C
THN: # 77 (N/A) —– CS: # 117 NAS —– McK: #Not Available
ISS: # 69 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-1 and 204 pound Buckles scored 40 goals and 3`1 assists in 51 games for St. Michael’s (OJHL). In 17 playoff games, he chipped in another seven goals and 10 assists. THN described him as a “sniper who can bang and crash – headed to Cornell.”

ISS Scouting Report: “Buckles’ game is centered around his fierce physical game and his massive shot, which is lethal given room in the offensive zone. Has a variety of weapons in the offensive end as he shows great body presence and puck protection to carry the puck to the net, but can also act as a triggerman with his heavy one-timer. Explodes through checks and hits the opposition with emphasis. Skates well but lacks elite quickness, relying on his power strides up ice. He needs to work on his consistency ….”

ANTON CEDERHOLM – D
THN: Not Available —– CS: # 25 ES —– McK: # Not Available
ISS: #113 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-2 and 209 pound Cederholm played for Rogle Jr. in Sweden and scored five goals and eight assist in 36 games.

ISS Scouting Report: “A big, strong and mobile defenseman, Cederholm is already very mature for his age; something served him well in his 12 games in the Eliteserien this year, where he never looked out of place. He is strong around his own net and shows well in battle situations. Cederholm is at his best below his own goal line as he manages to deny lanes well and can really contain pressure to the outside. He is very good at clearing pucks and pushing them up ice to teammates. He can be a bit jumpy with the puck offensively and tend to rush or force plays.”

ANTHONY DUCLAIR – RW
THN: # 55 (Skilled Forward) —– CS: # 57 NAS —– McK: # 72
ISS: # 64 (Not Available)

The 5-foot-11 and 180 pound Duclair played 55 games with Quebec (QMJHL) and scored 20 goals and 30 assists – a decrease from his rookie season when he scored 31 goals and 35 assists in 63 games.

THN wrote that scouts compare his abilities to that of Marian Gaborik and Alexander Semin on one hand while questioning his consistency. “The tools are there, but he’s inconsistent. You never know what you are going to get from this kid,” one scout told THN.

Another scout told THN, “The key to Duclair is the team that gets him had better be patient and understanding with him. If they are, they’re going to be rewarded.”

ISS Scouting report: “Duclair has battled adversity this tear; injury early in [the] year and some inconsistent play, but [he] worked through and became a good offensive contributor with a +23 rating. When he is on his game he can be difficult to handle one-on-one and is dangerous in the offensive zone … when he is not, he looks like a career CHL player. Luckily for him, we have seen him at his best and believe he will mature and has top 6 upside with added maturity and consistency in compete level. He is not strong and that does force him to rely on his skating and stick skills too heavily.”

GUSTAV OLOFSSON – D
THN: # 80 (Not Available) —– CS: # 51 NAS —– McK: #51 NAS
ISS: # 71 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-3 and 185 pound Olofsson spent last season with Green Bay (USHL) and scored one goal and 20 assists in 61 games. Olofsson is committed to Colorado College. THN called him a “puckmoving defenseman [who] boasts poise [and a] great stick.”

ISS Scouting Report: “… has great size and plays a very responsible and steady game. He plays with good intelligence and poise with the puck. Although he is not an overly physical defenseman, he has a great stick and works his angles very efficiently. His biggest strength is he rarely gets beat. A frustrating defenseman to play against and get around. He stands out in most situations when he has little bit of extra time and space to make a play, such as the PP – but proves to be capable in 5-on-5 situations as well. A big quiet kid who reminds ISS of Jiri Fischer.”

KEATON THOMPSON – D
THN: # 75 (Not Available) —– CS: # 53 NAS —– McK: # 85
ISS: # 49 (Paul Martin)

The 6-foot-0 and 187 pound Thompson played for the USA’s Under-18 team and scored four goals and 17 assists in 60games. Thompson has verbally committed to play for the University of North Dakota starting in the 2014-15 season. THN called him a “smooth skating blueliner with upside [but] how much?”

ISS Scouting Report: “Thompson is a two-way puck moving defenseman that sees the ice exceptionally well. He possesses gifted athletic ability and elite vision. [He] was a standout defenseman for the USA U-18 team all season long. Keaton can play the game any way you like. He is at his best when he uses his patience and ice vision to distribute pucks. He has shut down capability and plays a responsible and smart game in all three zones. He can play physical when the situation calls for it and will not shy away from scrums and clearing men from in front of the net.”

I know there are no LWs among the group, but I believe that these forwards represent the best “bang for the buck” in the 3rd round.

In terms of preference, my first pick would be Duclair – and that is something that I would not have said if John Tortorella were still coach. Alain Vigneault’s style and patience would help to bring the best out of Duclair.

I would be comfortable with either Baptiste or Buckles as my second pick of the 3rd round. I would lean towards Buckles because of his big-time shot – something the Rangers could certainly use.

As for the third pick of the 3rd round, all three blueliners are close but my first choice would be Thompson because I think he might have the quickest transition to the NHL game – with Olofsson and Cedarholm following in that order.

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If handicapping potential Rangers 3rd round draft picks is tough, imagine how crazy it gets trying to plan out to the 110th (4th round) and 170th (6th round) picks.

While Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark spoke of drafting for need rather than selecting the best player available, by the time you get this late in the draft the best policy might be to the best player available. However, I decided to take Clark’s comments into consideration when dealing with the 4th and 6th round picks.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), McKeen’s (McK), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters (NAS), European skaters (ES), North American goaltenders (NAG) and European goaltenders (EG). THN lists each prospect’s NHL Translation. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

Here are the possible 4th round draft picks, listed in alphabetical order:

BRENDAN BURKE – G
THN: # Not Available —– CS: # 13 NAG —– McK: # N/A
ISS: # 7 Goalie

The 6-foot-3 and 176 pound Burke is the son of former NHL goaltender Sean Burke. Given that the Devils drafted Stephane Matteau’s son in the 1st round last year, turnabout would be fair play if the Blueshirts tabbed Burke’s son.

As you might expect, the younger Burke’ style of play mirrors that of his father.

“Yes, good and bad. He’s very similar in style. A lot of it is from him just watching. He was old enough when I was still playing to watch a lot of games. He naturally plays a style I think he watched me play,” Sean Burke related to Rich Chere of NJ.com.

“Kids his age now are better-coached from a younger age. They’re more technical. I remember back in my day it was more about just being a good athlete and competing. Young goalies now do that, but they’ve also been well-coached.”

Brendan played last season with Portland (WHL), In 33 games Last season, Burke posted a 24—1 record with a 2.65 GAA and a .908 save percentage and four shutouts. As he did in his rookie season, Burke backed up WHL veteran Mac Carruth.

Prior to joining Portland in 2011, Burke was one of 40 players invited to tryout for the Under-17 US National Development Team. In his rookie season in 2011/12, Burke played in 18 games and posted a 7-2-1 record with 3.58 GAA and .875 SV%.

ISS Scouting Report: “A large goaltender who takes up the net well, Burke was able to see some good action throughout the year showcasing his positional ability. Burke has good rebound control and smothers the puck quickly when it is free. He tracks the puck fairly well through traffic, but needs to improve his angles and be more aggressive after shooters.”

NIKOLAI GLUKHOV – D
THN: # Not Available —– CS: # 39 ES —– McK: # Not Available
ISS: # 125 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-2 and 178 pound Glukhov played for Omsk 2 in Russia and scored one goal and 13 assists in 41 games. Glukhov’s CS rating improved from his #48 rating in their Mid-Term Rankings.

ISS Scouting Report: “A slick skating defender who loves to rush the puck and make plays. Glukhov had a bit of a coming out part at this years’ U-18 World Championships. He makes a very good first pass, but is most effective from the point where he has good deception skills and vision. He is strong on his skates and is good in one-on-one situations, using his reach and skating speed to keep opponents to the outside. He can be a decently effective physical player at times, separating opponents from pucks well, but he needs to get bigger (more weight) and stronger to compete at the next level.

ANTON SLEPYSHEV – LW
THN: # Not Available —– CS: # 20 ES —– McK: # Not Available
ISS: #119 (Not Available)

The 6-foot-2 and 187 pound Slepyshev was eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, but went unselected. I bet there are a few teams that wished they had taken a late round flyer on him last year. This year, Slepyshev played 26 games in the KHL and scored seven goals and two assists, and added an assist in seven games for Russia’s WJC team.

ISS Scouting Report: “Perhaps the best player that was most shockingly left off the draft board last year, Slepyshev came back strong this year. A talented two-way player with good spirit, Slepyshev has great hands and can really make things happen from the perimeter with the puck. He shows good work ethic, can play physical and also can be a real pest to play against. He shows good power elements in his game and can protect the puck well and isn’t afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice. Saw good minutes for Russia at this year’s WJC and should be in line to be one of their top weapons for next year’s event.”

It turns out that the alphabetical order is also my draft order with goaltender Brendan Burke at the top of my 4th round choices.

Here are the possible 6th round draft picks, listed in alphabetical order:

KYLE BURROUGHS – D
THN: Not Available —– CS: # 133 NAS —– McK: # Not Available
ISS: #131 (Not Available)

The 5-foot-11 and 182 pound Burroughs played for Regina (WHL) last season and scored five goals and 28 assists in 70 games – with 91 PIM.

ISS Scouting Report: “There are so many reasons to count Burroughs out – he’s too small, he looks frail on the ice, but Burroughs plays the game with tremendous maturity. He thinks the game very well on both sides of the puck, is calm and calculated in almost every situation, plays unselfish and team first style of game and can really move the puck well. He has great vision with the puck, positions himself well offensively and defensively, keeps a strong gap and is extremely reliable in all situations. His size will deter some teams, but he can play big minutes against top players and be very effective.

TEEMU KIVIHALME – D
TSN: # Not Available —– CS: # 64 NAS —– McK: #
ISS: # 149 (Not Available)

The 5-foot-11 and 158 pound blueliner played 25 games for Burnsville High School in Minnesota for his father Janne, Teemu, who is a dual Finish-American citizen, scored nine goals and added 21 assists.

According to an article by Neate Sager of Yahoo Canada, Kivihalme appears to be ready to pass on Junior hockey in order to play for Colorado College (WCHA). However, the youngster is willing to go the Junior route if that is what his eventual NHL team thinks is best.

ISS Scouting Report: ISS scouts like his offensive upside and have noted over the season he has done a better job of picking his spots when looking to jump into the rush and play an offensive style. Kivihalme is not overly physical but is effective at using his body to rub opposing players out of scoring opportunities. Has a tremendous set of hands and he’s able to collect the puck and distribute it to teammates at a very high rate. Teemu is a tremendous skater and his only real knock is his size, as it’s not prototypical, but he is a likeable player thanks to a nice collection of skills. He needs to get bigger (more weight) and stronger to compete at the next level.

HENRI IKONEN – C
THN: # Not Available —– CS: # 180NAS —– McK: # Not Available
ISS: # 154 (Not Available)

The 5-foot-11 and 184 pound Ikonen left his native Finland to further his development in the North American style of hockey. Last season he played 61 games with Kingston (OHL) and scored 22 goals and 29 assists. He spent the 2011/12 season with Kalpa Jr. in Finland and scored 17 goals and 28 assists in 37 games.

ISS Comments: “Draft Sleeper! Good offensive awareness with great low zone vision. Works very well along the boards and off the cycle. Displays great strength in his lower body and on his skates. North-South offensive style. Developed into a leader on the young Frontenacs squad.”

Since the Rangers do have depth at forward, I would list Ikonen as the third of the 6th round choices. As for the two blueliners, the question comes down to a short-term prospect (Burroughs) or a long-term prospect (Kivihalme). In the end, I would go with Kivihalme because of his plus skating ability and the fact that it is possible that he might yet grow into an NHL-size defenseman.

UPDATE:

Some interesting news coming out of Ottawa where Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is reporting that the Rangers are quietly shopping former 1st round draft pick J.T. Miller. Garrioch writes that the Rangers are looking for proven help.

If Wayne Gretzky can be traded, then no player is truly :untouchable” so I have no problem with the Rangers gauging how much interest there is in Miller. However, given that Miller is only 20-years-old; the Blueshirts can’t be looking for a grizzled veteran. They have to get someone back in their mid-20s or possibly grabbing a 1st round pick if there is a player they really like.

However, if the report out of Ottawa is true, could there be a more “sinister” motive behind shopping Miller? Pair this rumor up with the Rangers passing on buying out Brad Richards this year, and you have a GM who is looking to roll the dice one more time in an attempt to win a Stanley Cup – future of the organization be damned.

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Alain Vigneault’s hiring as the 35th coach in New York Rangers history is being hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. The MSG Network analysts and the media rolled out le tapis rouge for the new coach who is viewed as the savior of a Rangers team that took “a step backwards” according to Captain Ryan Callahan.

We all know about the two President Trophies and the six divisional titles (five of them in a row). However, the divisional titles are not a huge accomplishment given the struggles Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota have had during the last few years.

If the Rangers took a step backwards this year under John Tortorella, how many steps back did Vigneault’s Vancouver Canucks taken posting a 1-10 playoff record after reaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins – that includes two first round playoff eliminations?

Basically, the Rangers hired a coach who had more talent in Vancouver, and underachieved, rather than retain the coach who had less talent (and less a media-friendly demeanor) and overachieved.

The one thing you can always say about MSG’s teams is that they always put on good press conferences. Friday’s event to introduce Vigneault really wasn’t one of their finest hours. I guess you can chalk it up to the fact that it was a “road press conference” due to the unavailability of MSG due to the renovations.

Yes, the usual suspects were there with James Dolan and Glen Sather front and center along with Garden bigwigs Hank Ratner and David Howard; as well as Rangers Assistant GMs Jim Schoenfeld and Jeff Gorton.

Most telling were those who were not in attendance.

No one would have expected Mark Messier to appear Friday given that he was one of the finalists for the coaching job. According to Sather, the Rangers coaching list started with 13 candidates that was quickly whittled down to nine. Sather admitted that he conducted phone interviews with four candidates and had to two in-person interviews.

We know that Vigneault and Messier were the two in-person candidates. As for the phone interviews, we can guess that Lindy Ruff and John Stevens were two of the names because the Rangers did receive permission from Buffalo and Los Angeles to speak to them.

The other conspicuous absences belonged to the players themselves. Nary a Ranger was introduced at the press conference – and that is as telling as any statement Sather could make in reference to the players not playing a part in John Tortorella’s firing.

Sather went on record as saying that he thought about firing Torts during the regular season and again during the playoffs. Despite of all this deep thought, Sather still didn’t pull the trigger until after the exit interviews with the players. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it works for Aflac.

In the end it really doesn’t matter how or why Tortorella was fired. Adam Proteau of The Hockey News probably described the life of a coach with the following tweet: “Twenty-five coaches have been fired in the last two years. We no longer should say a team has ‘hired’ a new coach. More like ‘rented’”.

I have written in the past that I thought John Tortorella was a good coach. Was he perfect? No. He needed to be a bit more flexible in letting his players play and he needed to modify his defensive scheme that placed too much of an emphasis on shutting down the shooting lanes.

Sather made several references to the way the game has changed over the last couples of years with the unsaid point being that Torts didn’t or wouldn’t change. Ironically, the same can be said of Sather – but that is for another day.

Rick Carpiniello of the Journal News wrote that Sather said he spoke with Tortorella about changing his style, but his former coach was “beyond stubborn” – which Slats did say helped make Torts so successful.

Brett Cyrgalis of the NY Post used the same “beyond stubborn” quote in one of his articles, but it was only in direct context to Tortorella being given a chance to change his ways. You get the feeling that each side has their point of view on this subject and that the truth lies somewhere in between.

Vigneault represents a “safe” choice for Sather. It is funny how the media roasted Torts for eschewing his “safe is death” mantra from his Tampa Bay days, but gives Sather a pass on making the safe choice here.

Then again, when Sather goes the non-safe route the Rangers ended up with the likes of crony Ron Low and the ill-prepared Bryan Trottier.

Unlike those fans who called for Tortorella to be fired and then are silent when it comes to offering up alternatives, I did have my own list of candidates and AV was not Plan A, B, or C.

My first choice would have been former Toronto Marlies coach and new Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. The delay between the Rangers last game and the firing Tortorella cost the Blueshirts any chance they would have had at Eakins.

The new Oilers coach has NHL experience as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs to go along with his time as head coach in the AHL.

Defenseman Mike Mottau, who played for all three local hockey teams, endorsed Eakins in a discussion with Cyrgalis.

“I played for a number of coaches over the years and I can say Dallas is one of the best,” Mottau explained to Cyrgalis.

“He was able to look at certain guys and let them play to their strengths and work on their weaknesses. Other coaches promote themselves and their system, but he was looking at the betterment of the group. He was just a breath of fresh air for me.”

Another non-safe alternative would be the University of Wisconsin’s Mike Eaves. In 2011, Eaves’ name surfaced as a potential candidate for the New Jersey Devils job – a position that went to Peter DeBoer.

Andy Johnson of Buckys5thQuater.com, a Badgers sports site, wrote about Eaves flirtation with the Devils.

“Another coach that has coached in the NHL before and I had him for a few international tournaments is Mike Eaves,” Zach Parise told Johnson in June 2011.

“He is now at Wisconsin and I’ve never been so prepared to face an opponent as when I was playing for him. It may be a little different in an 82-game schedule, but he did a great job of having players understand their role on the team and got them to do that to the best of their ability.”

“Great coach, great systems and gets his players to play. Very demanding.”

Eaves also gets high marks given the way Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan have been able to become impact players for the Rangers.

Truth be told, I might have decided to wait out Dave Tippett’s situation in Phoenix. Given his success with an unsteady Coyotes franchise, imagine what he could do with the Rangers talent and purse strings. Once Tippett re-signed with Phoenix, I would have moved on to the rest of my list.

A safer choice than Eakins and Eaves, but still one that would have caused some discussion, would have been Pittsburgh’s Tony Granato. Some fans and media members were hot for Dan Bylsma had the Penguins boss been canned instead or retained. Granato would have given a link to those who wanted a Pittsburgh flair, while providing the Rangers with someone who had head coaching experience.

Granato was 104-78-17-16 in 215 games in two coaching stints with Colorado. During that time, he led the Avalanche a Northwest Division title and a second place finish.

For the most part, Vigneault did not say anything out of place during his introductory press conference. He wants his team to play the “right way” and expects them to take calculated chances when the opportunity presents itself.

“I believe that your top-skilled players have to be given a little more latitude. They have to understand the game …. They have to be given the latitude to make something out of nothing,” Vigneault offered.

While he wants the Rangers style of play to mirror that of the Canucks, Vigneault realizes that Vancouver was not built in a day.

“If you look at Vancouver, how we evolved over the years, [when] I got there we were a more defense-oriented team because our skill-level wasn’t as high,” AV explained. “As soon as our skill-level started to evolve, and we started to develop it a little bit more, we became one of the best offensive teams in the league – and that’s what I intend to do here in New York.”

The Rangers coach will be bringing some new off-ice changes to the franchise. Vigneault is a believer in the new hockey metrics and numbers – an NHL version of “Sabremetrics” if you will.

Various Rangers beat writers detailed Vigneault’s use of numbers to study how many offensive zone faceoffs and offensive zone ice time his best players get and how many defensive zone faceoffs and defensive zone ice time his best defensive players get – which seems to contradict his willingness to run four lines on a constant basis.

As Larry Brooks of the NY Post pointed out, Vancouver forwards averaged between 12:35 and 19:20 minutes of ice time. Brooks did point out that the Sedin Twins did not kill penalties or their number would have been north of 20 minutes of ice time.

In addition, AV made use of “sleep doctors” as a means of studying the rest and sleep patterns of his players as a result of Vancouver’s travel schedule. This point was hammered home by the MSG analysts and members as a major reason behind the hiring of Vigneault with the new divisional realignments and increased travel schedule – especially in terms of balancing the need for practice time versus the need for rest.

Of course, NHL teams dealt with that balancing act this year due to the Lockout, but the media is not going to let facts stand in the way of a story.

The bottom line, in the media’s eyes, was that they got rid of a surly coach in favor of one who pretty much has been termed a “media darling”. This was a point that Al Trautwig made on MSG prior to the start of the press conference.

“His personality was liked by the Vancouver media. He, apparently, had a sense of humor that we’ll start to see today,” Trautwig opined.

The one thing that Tortorella never realized is that you can’t win a fight against the media unless you are as successful as a Tom Coughlin or Gregg Popovich.

Much was made on Friday about Vigneault selecting the Rangers over the Dallas Stars who reportedly offered him a similar deal. Again, that really wasn’t much of a fair fight given the Rangers roster in comparison to the Stars roster and when you factor in AV is that much closer to his grown daughters who live in Montreal.

In offering up his reasons for hiring Vigneault Sather said, “He knows the kind of system we’d like to have here. It’s the kind of system he had in Vancouver for the last seven years.”

That is all well and good, but the question to ask is: Do the Rangers have those type of players to play Vancouver’s system? There was a reason why Tortorella didn’t run four lines against the Bruins – he didn’t have four lines worthy of forwards – especially when injuries hit.

Rather than looking to play a high-risk, high-reward style of hockey, the Rangers need to take a page from the Boston Bruins and play a “four and three” style of hockey. That means you roll four sets of line and three sets of defensemen. From all indications, that is what Vigneault wants to do.

However, AV and the Rangers have to take that one step further. Whatever system the Rangers end up running in New York is the EXACT system they must run in Hartford with the AHL Wolf Pack.

There is a reason why teams like the New Jersey Devils are able to overcome injuries and player defections on an annual basis. There is a reason why a rookie like Torey Krug can jump from the AHL and into the fire of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Bruins, and especially the Devils, are running systems that are followed in the NHL and AHL. When AHL reinforcements are needed, they are already attuned to the style they will play in the NHL – thus making the transition easier.

The Rangers need to get out in front of this idea and embrace it from day one. Not only should it be implemented, it should be well known so that future Rangers – be it through trade, free agent signing or draft – know what will be expected of them.

If Vigneault is the best way to accomplish this idea, then welcome to New York AV. Besides, it is cool to have a coach who pronounces organization as “organ-EYE-zation”.

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While John Tortella’s ego took a beating as a result of the Ranger’s playoff performance, one New York teen took a much more physical beating because of the race for the Stanley Cup. Last month, a pair of knucklehead Rangers fans in Englewood put a 17-year-old in the hospital after they mistook him for a criminal who sold them phoney Rangers playoff tickets.

According to Englewood Detective Captain, Tim Torell, the suspects Robert Brancaccio and Raymond Sorg allgedly “grabbed, assaulted and sent to the hospital a totally innocent — and much smaller — kid who was simply on his way to work.”

The pair, both of whom are six feet tall and over 220 pounds, were arrested on assault charges. The Englewood police also nabbed the REAL scammer, 41-year-old Troy Harrell, for theft by deception and drug related charges. Harrell is a convicted felon with criminal records in New Jersey, New York and Maryland.

Brancaccio and Sorg reportedly met with Harrell after responding to a classified ad on Craigslist and paid $640 for what they thought were playoff tickets. Once the duped duo were denied entrance at the gate and realized that their tickets weren’t worth the paper they were printed on, they watched the game at a bar in Manhattan.

Passionate for revenge, Brancaccio and Sorg tried to find Harrell again on Craigslist. They spotted him trying to sell tickets to the exclusive New York City Governor’s Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island. They assumed aliases and arranged to meet Harrell in the same shopping plaza where they were sold the fake playoff tickets.“Their plan, at least according to them, was to confront Harrell about the previous rip-off and then contact the police,” Captain Torrell said.

For reasons that haven’t been revealed, the two dim-witted Rangers fans mistook a 17-year-old for Harrell, slammed him to the ground, and beat him. Thinking they caught their crook, they called the police and officers quickly arrived at the scene. While they were explaining to the officers what happened, they got a call — from the REAL Harrell. That’s when they realized they had made a criminal mistake way more extreme than your typical overzealous sports fan stupidity or delinquency. But they weren’t the only ones destined to spend the night in jail.

Shortly afterwards, Harrell showed up to the meeting place carrying four bogus tickets to the governor’s ball and a marijuana pipe. The officers placed Brancaccio, Sorg, and Harrell in cuffs.

Robert Brancaccio and Raymond Sorg  were booked and posted bail. The hearings for their aggravated assault charges are pending.

Troy Harrell was placed in Bergen County Jail on $27,000 bail.

The teen was sent to the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center where his parents later reunited with him.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Logan Strain, a blogger from San Diego, California. He posts about crime, law, and personal safety on twitter.

 

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Pat Leonard of the Daily News penned the best description of the New York Rangers firing of Coach John Tortorella.

“The Rangers finally executed a power play, but it came at John Tortorella’s, expense” Leonard wrote.

“’Multiple players,’ including some ‘top guys,’ pushed for the firing of their demanding and combative 54-year-old coach, a source said, and they got their wish on Wednesday afternoon, just four days after the Blueshirts were bounced from the playoffs by the Boston Bruins.”

If you have been a regular reader of Ranger Ramblings you know that I am in the pro-Torts camp. I also realize that Tortorella had his “idiosyncrasies” that drove fans, players and the media crazy. I also realize that he is pigheaded at times in terms of player personnel decisions and style of play.

However, I also realize that he has a resume that only one other NHL coach (LA’s Darryl Sutter) could claim – leading his team to the second round of the playoffs the last two seasons.

Players spoke of the team taking a step back this season, while the coach called it a sideways step. Even if we take the players at their words, if the Rangers did regress and take a step back this year it was only because last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals was a case of the Blueshirts taking two, and perhaps three, steps forward.

In plain and simple terms, the Rangers are the example of the inmates running the asylum.

Rather than own up to the fact that some of the players were never mentally or physically fit to play the season following the lockout, the players did what all players do when a team fails to live up to expectations – point their collective finger at the coach.

I am not sure if anyone listens to or watches the “Boomer and Carton” Program, but they both said the same thing that Torts had lost the locker room and that a Rangers player told them as much about six weeks prior to Tortorella’s firing. Both Esiason and Carton refused to name the player, although they were quick to point it wasn’t Brad Richards, based on Boomer and B-Rich being good friends. Boomer did say it was a player that he has mentioned in the past and it was a player whose game Boomer had become disenchanted with.

I relayed this story to my wife and she came up with the same name I did – Rick Nash – and Roe did that without knowing that Boomer had been a big Nash guy.

I don’t know if it was Nash, but I have a REAL problem with players doing the deed and keeping silent. If you are going to stab your coach in the back, at least have the gonadal organs to put your name on the record. Say what you will about Mark Messier’s hand in the firing of Roger Neilson, but everyone knew that the Captain had grown tired of Neilson’s system – a system (by the way) that had lifted the Blueshirts out of the doldrums and into an eventual President’s Trophy winner.

The real shame in Tortorella’s firing is how Glen Sather manages to skate by with another pass. Just exactly how many coaches is he going to be allowed to fire anyway? Sather pretty much threw his players under the bus because he said he didn’t have any intention of firing Torts until after he spoke to the players in the season-ending meeting with management.

In all fairness, Tortorella was entering the final year of his contract so the Rangers needed to decide if they were going to extend his contract or run the risk of a lame duck coach like Terry Collins and Rex Ryan.

In addition, Torts needed to make some adjustments to his way of thinking. The team is desperate need of a new voice when it comes to the power play and there is a need to tweak their defensive zone coverage to lessen the emphasis on blocking shots and increase the pressure on opposing point men.

And if Sather had fired Tortorella because he refused to implement any changes and because he is in the final year of his contract, that would have been fine. However, Sather fired his coach based on the players’ revolt – and Slats did so without having a viable candidate in mind.

I say that because the Rangers are starting their organizational meetings in California and they are just starting to bring people in for interviews. The lack of action cost them a shot at Dallas Eakins who looks to be set to take over in Edmonton.

I bet the media is hoping the Rangers skate-dragging doesn’t cost them a shot at Vancouver’s ex-coach Alain Vigneault because the NY writers are pushing for him based on his being a good quote and very media friendly.

The next Rangers coach will mark the sixth coach that Sather will have hired since joining the organization in June 2000. If you factor in the interim coach that finished up the 1999/2000 season and was not invited back, Sather will be on coach number seven. In case you forgot, Tortorella was that interim coach so the Sather coaching lineage in 13 years is Torts, Ron Low, Bryan Trottier, Sather himself, Tom Renney and Torts again – and all the Rangers have to show for those years is one Division title.

In comparison, during Neil Smith’s 11 year tenure, his coaching lineage was Neilson, Ron Smith (interim), Mike Keenan, Colin Campbell and John Muckler. During the Smith years, the Rangers won a Stanley Cup, two Presidents’ Trophies and three Divisional titles.

Only Emile Francis and Lester Patrick won more games as a Rangers coach than John Tortorella during the regular season and the playoffs, where Torts is tied for third in wins with Colin Campbell.

The bottom line is that Sather reshaped the Rangers twice during the season without the benefit of a regular training camp, with the second reshaping coming in the middle of a wild playoff run.

Since Sather never adequately replaced the players he traded away during the off-season, Slats had to make his deadline deals in order to correct his original mistakes – including a deal for Ryan Clowe that could cost the Rangers two second round draft picks and a third round pick if the winger re-signs with the Blueshirts.

The 2011/2012 Rangers were not an exceptional team, rather they were a team that went on an exceptional run – much like the 1978/1979 Rangers did.

During the Summer of 1979, GM Fred Shero dealt away five players to acquire Barry Beck, who was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle. During the Summer of 2013, GM Glen Sather dealt away three players and a 2013 first round draft pick for Rick Nash, who was supposed to be the missing piece of the puzzle. While Beck’s impact is a closed book, Nash has only written the first chapter of his tale.

Much was written of how Tortorella’s team quit on him during the Boston series. Nice idea, makes for good articles, but is nowhere near the truth.

After watching the Bruins dismantle the Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight games, I think we can all say that we underestimated Boston and their ability to carry over the momentum from their comeback for the ages against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Outside of Game 2, two of the Rangers losses were by one goal and Game 5 was a two-goal game because of an empty net goal. A break here and a power play goal there and it could be the Rangers facing the Chicago Blackhawks.

No, if the Rangers were going to quit on their coach, they had their chance in the Capitals series. Down three games to two and facing a seventh and deciding game on the road would have been the perfect time to fold up their tent. That was not the case. The Rangers responded with two shutout wins backstopped by Henrik Lundqvist – including their best game of the playoffs in the 5-0 elimination of the Capitals.
While GM Sandy Alderson was talking about the moribund New York Mets (yet another one of my teams), he could just as easily be speaking about the 2013/2013 New York Rangers.

“This is not a staff issue. This is a player issue.”

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Somewhere Sean Avery is smiling because he got his wish in the end – the Rangers firing coach John Tortorella. Now is not the time to delve into an in-depth at what happened and why it happened. The news is still fresh and the rumor mill will need time to start churning out potential replacements.

No, today is about asking questions and hearing from Rangers President/GM Glen Sather. Today can be considered a Groundhog’s Day Redux because Sather awoke from his mid-spring slumber in Banff to address the media – a chore that both he and his deposed coach just love to do (he said sarcastically).

I did not get a chance to listen to the conference call Sather had with the media, but it lasted about 20 or so minutes. God forbid Sather actually stumble onto a plane and meet with the media. I guess he is saving that for mid-June or so when he hires Pierre McGuire as the new Rangers coach – talk about a true God forbid moment.

As things stand now, Mike Sullivan is still around. However, that might just be to have someone around to turn the lights on and off. I guess Jim Schoenfeld could have done that, but with the Draft upcoming and the re-launch of the Hartford Wolf Pack, he might be busy – unless he is on the shortlist of candidates … and that might not be bad thing.

One interesting note from the conference call was what Sather said when he was asked about his future.

Sather responded, “I don’t know what you are talking about with all the roles, I don’t sharpen the skates here, I gave that up. I will continue as GM for next season.”

I wonder if he is looking to quietly fade into the sunset? It is interesting how he limited himself to “next season”.

Anyway, here are some Sather snippets from the conference call with my “translation”/response supplied.

Sather: “Every coach has a shelf life.”
Anthony: “So does every General Manager so Torts had to go before they canned me.”

Sather: “There’s a lot of good coaches around with different qualities…”
Anthony: “The wrinkled old man has his eye on someone and is afraid he might be gone. Lindy Ruff has spoken to Dallas and Don Maloney is trying to re-sign Dave Tippett. He better pass on Alain Vigneault.”

As an aside, Bob McKenzie tweeted that Vigneault was on the Rangers shortlist when they hired Bryan Trottier, but the former Canucks boss did not get an interview.

Speaking of Vancouver, one longshot candidate, Dallas Eakins, is interviewing in Vancouver. Could Slats have pulled the trigger on Torts because he couldn’t run the risk of not getting a shot to talk to Eakins?

Sather on Lundqvist comments: “It didn’t have anything to do with it. We plan on signing Henrik to a long-term contract.”
Anthony: “If it looks like a duck and quack likes a duck, it is a duck. If it had NOTHING to do with Hank why wait four days to fire your coach and risk losing one of those ‘good coaches’?”

Sather: “Can’t predict what new coach’s system will be like”
Anthony: “It will be whatever system that gets Hank to put his Johann Hancock on to a contract extension. Besides, we change systems around here as often as I chew on cigars”

Sather: “I think if you are not in the Stanley Cup and not winning it your season hasn’t been a success.”
Anthony: “Hmm, GM since June 2000 and he hasn’t been to a Stanley Cup Final, never mind win one. I guess that makes Sather a ‘non-success’”

Sather: Said that benching Brad Richards was an “organizational decision.”
Anthony: “You guys should have known Torts was a goner back then when I had B-Rich benched.”

Sather: “It was the choice of how we’re going to get better”.
Anthony: “The choice to get better – GM Jeff Gorton.”

Ultimately, there are three questions that need to be answered in the coming days following the firing of Tortorella.

1. Why did Sather decide to fire Torts?
2. Who replaces Tortorella?
3. How many more coaches does Sather get to hire/fire?

We know that the Rangers are a whole different ballgame when it comes to Garden involvement in the day-to-day running of the franchise. James Dolan does not pretend to know anything about hockey, unlike his forays into being the GM behind the GM of the New York Knicks.

As a result, this decision was Sather’s and Sather’s alone. For those who were anti-Tortorella and called for his firing, you got your wish. However, to them I say be careful of what you wish for. Sometimes it is better to keep the devil you know then the devil you don’t know.

Truth be told I would have kept Tortorella as the Rangers coach – with some conditions. He would have needed to hire a coach or consultant, if you wish, to work on the power play. Sometimes a new perspective is needed.

I also would have talked about adjusting the Rangers defensive zone coverage a bit. The Rangers get pinned in their own zone so much, and for so long, because the forwards are collapsing too much in an attempt to choke off the shooting lanes. Putting the forwards at the top of the circle might have provided a happy medium where they could still be in position to block shots and be in position to break up the passes to the points.

I wonder how the anti-Tortorella camp will react if, at the press conference to announce the hiring of a new coach, GM Glen Sather says, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newest Head Coach of the New York Rangers – Pierre McGuire.”

Okay, enough analysis for now. I have more to say and will in the coming days as things take shape in the wonderful world of Rangers-Land where there is never a dull moment – in-season or in the off-season.

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To paraphrase Winston Churchill – never have so many owed so much to one goaltender. If I were Henrik Lundqvist, I would sue my New York Rangers teammates for lack of support. It was pretty disappointing for this Rangers fan to watch The King try to will his team to victory only to watch the rest of the team fall short of the urgency and desperation they showed in Game 4.

Leave it to Lundqvist to sum up the feelings of the Rangers faithful.

“I expected more for us and I hoped for more,” The Rangers goalie explained to BlueshirtsUnited.com. “It’s an empty feeling. The hardest thing is realizing that it’s over.”

While Lundqvist showed up to play all 14 playoff games, sadly the Rangers offense did not. The Blueshirts played nine one-goal games if you factor in empty net goals turned three games into two-goal decisions (ironically enough, all three were 3-1 losses). Of those one-goal decisions, the Rangers were 4-5.

Even more telling was the fact the Rangers were either shutout or scored just one goal in 6 of their 14 games, posting a 1-5 record,

Far too many times the Rangers were spending more time in the offensive zone looking to make the extra pass rather than put shots on goal, get traffic in front and hunt down rebounds and deflections.

“The last two games, we gave ourselves a chance to win,” Lundqvist said to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. “But it took us a couple of games to get there.

“I expected more from us,” he said. “Last year, a lot of things went our way. This was a different season. We have to learn from this.”

While the Rangers lost the series in five games, the two teams were not separated by much – even though Boston was the better and deeper team. Outside of the Rangers Game 2 loss, the other three defeats were games where the outcome could easily have swung the Blueshirts way.

Rosen offered the following take from Bruins center Gregory Campbell.

“They played hard. They’re built similar to us,” Campbell told NBC Sports Network. “They rely on everybody, and they really play a man’s game. It was a physical series; most of the games could have gone either way.”

For his part, Rangers coach John Tortorella fell on the sword for his team and took the blame in his post-game press conference.

“One of the big things in this series, and it falls on me it’s a big part of my job, is that I couldn’t get my top players to play consistently,” Tortorella lamented. “I need to take some responsibility to try and get them into spots to help us here. I thought that hurt us a bit.”

I am not sure what Torts could have done differently to get the likes of Rick Nash and Brad Richards to score more than one goal apiece or

The bugaboos that plagued the Rangers throughout the playoffs were in full force in Game 5. While the Rangers power play struck for a second straight game, they never were able to turn a one goal lead into a two-goal lead.

Unfortunately, the Rangers did not heed the lesson of that power goal which saw Dan Girardi’s shot from the point beat Tuukka Rask thanks to Brian Boyle’s screen. The Rangers, once again, failed to get enough traffic in front of a goalie.

The Rangers style of play in their defensive end cost them yet again as the Bruins forecheck pinned the Rangers deep in their own zone for stretches at a time. They expended so much energy getting out of their own zone that they were unable to launch any counterattack against the Bruins and the Rangers own forecheck was found wanting.

The Blueshirts are going to have to consider redesigning their defensive zone coverage next season. They need to stop constantly dropping sown low to clog up the shooting lanes because that style leaves the point men WIDE open.

It is a big reason why the Bruins defensemen scored seven of Boston’s 16 goals in the series – including Torey Krug’s record-setting coming out performance. The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed Krug is the first rookie blueliner to score four goals in his first five playoff games since the 1967 expansion.

“I just try to go out and play my game and hopefully make an impact,” the undrafted defenseman told Rosen. “I’m just trying to contribute any chance I get.”

You can bet there will be a lot of GMs trying to figure out why they didn’t take a flyer on the 5-foot-9 defenseman.

I might be wrong, but the Rangers did not seem to have the same zip they had in Game 4. I am not sure if they were physically tired or if it was a matter of their emotional level just being drained, but they never seemed to match the intensity they had in the last game at the Garden.

Despite that, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to tie the game about eight and half minutes into the third period, but Rask stopped Ryan Callahan’s breakaway backhander. I was surprised that Callahan did not use his regular shootout move – dropping his shoulder and snapping off a quick wrister.

“There’s no worse feeling than this,” Callahan explained to Rosen. “We had a good team this year. It’s frustrating.”

Here are my random Ramblings for Game 5:

• Tonight was the 19th anniversary of Mark Messier’s “Guarantee” in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Had the Ranegrs won and forced a Game 6, that would have been the anniversary of “Matteau! Matteau! Stephan Matteau!”
• There are two “bright” sides to the Rangers Game 5 loss. First, the Rangers did not get eliminated at home and secondly, and most importantly, we did not have to suffer through the platitudes and exultations that would have been launched Boston’s way by Pierre McGuire. By the way, while he might come across as “all-Canadian”, McGuire was born in Englewood, NJ.
• Of the 28 goals allowed by the Rangers in the playoffs, 14 of them came in the second period. When you also factor in the three overtime goals against, they allowed a whopping 17 goals during the “long-change” period.
• Prior to Game 5, Rask was 2-8 in elimination games.
• The Bruins entered Game 5 with a 16-2 lifetime record when they have held a 3-1 lead in best-of-7 series and they are 9-9 lifetime in Game 5s of best-of-7 series that they have led 3-1.
• The last time the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins faced off in the playoffs was in the 1992 Wales Conference Finals which Pittsburgh won in four straight game one their way to their second consecutive Stanley Cup title. 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr was just 20-years-old then and in his second NHL season. In 21 playoffs games that year, he scored 11 goals and 13 assists
• Jagr is one goal shy of tying Jean Beliveau for 10th place on the all-time playoff goals list with 79. He is also three points short of tying Paul Coffey for 5th place on the all-time playoff points list (196).
• Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things, but who are the dolts at 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston who pick the Three Stars. I can see Campbell and the First Star and Rask as the Third Star, but Milan Lucic as the Second Star? I think Krug would have been a better choice if you wanted to go all Bruins. Then again, they picked Derick Brassards as the Third Star following Game 1, presumably because it was his offensive zone turnover that lead the game-winning goal. Stay Classy Boston #1 (he writes sarcastically).
• Stay Classy Boston #2 – For the love of all things holy and hockey, ditch that “Woo!” chant after every goal. It is more annoying than that jackwagon with the horn at the Verizon Center.
• For all those Rangers fans who bemoan the Rangers penchant for going up the boards with their breakouts, watch their breakout on Campbell’s game-winning goal. Roman Hamrlik turns the puck over with a pass of the middle and the Rangers never recovered.
• %$@#! Toronto Maple Leafs. One has to wonder what would have happened in the Eastern Conference Semifinals had the Rangers faced the Maple Leafs instead of the Bruins. You would have to expect that the Blueshirts playoff experience would have been a huge factor.
• The final word goes to The King. Henrik Lundqvist tweeted out the following message on Twitter: “On our way home to NY. Season ended way to early.. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the Ranger fans for all the support!!” Rangers fans have to hope that his career turns out like that of Mike Richter who was able to win a Stanley Cup as opposed to Eddie Giacomin who saw Lord Stanley’s Cup elude him.

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Down 2-0 with a little more than 32 minutes left to play, and facing elimination, the New York Rangers playoff run was at a crossroads. They could follow the example of the Washington Capitals who folded like a cheap suit in Game 7. Or, the Blueshirts could decide to fight back and play with a desperation, urgency and resiliency that has been lacking in this series. If they were to choose the latter option, they were going to need a break.

Well, one break coming up, courtesy of Tuukka Rask who certainly will not be winning Dancing With the Stars any time soon. Just 58 seconds after Rangers nemesis Torey Krug scored his third goal of the series, Carl Hagelin’s backhander trickled past the prone Bruins goaltender after Rask stumbled and fell to the ice.

“Probably the ugliest goal I have ever seen,” Henrik Lundqvist commented to Larry Brooks of the NY Post. “It turned it around for us, and that’s hockey.

‘‘We need to be more focused, I need to be more focused,’’ Rask explained to Ira Podell of the AP. ‘‘I just took a step to the side in what I think probably was a skate mark or something. I lost my balance and the rest is history.

‘‘We gave them a couple of gifts and it cost us the game.’’

The other “gift” was Derek Stepan’s goal 75 seconds into the third period to tie the game as he picked Zdeno Chara’s pocket and stuffed home the tying goal. After the game Chara said he didn’t know Stepan was near him – which is understandable given that FrankenChara (copyrighted by my wife Roe) is like eight feet tall on skates and probably thought Stepan was a gnat buzzing around his head.

“It certainly gave us life,” Stepan stated after the game. “It’s a timely goal at the right time.”

The Rangers resiliency was tested again as Boston scored two seconds after Ryan McDonagh’s borderline call for Goalie Interference expired as the Bruins scored after Henrik Lundqvist made a flurry of stops late in the Boston power play.

However, less than two minutes later a month of Sundays hit the calendar, pigs started to fly and cats and dogs were living in harmony as the Rangers power play woke up from its doldrums to tie the game midway through the third period.

Credit Brian Engblom for pointing out the two things the Rangers did right, for a change, on their power play and the big mistake the Bruins committed.

For one of the few times on a man advantage, the Blueshirts were able to gain the Bruins zone while carrying the puck. Combine that with some puck movement and player movement and you have Brian Boyle’s power play goal.

The one main point Engblom pointed out was how the Bruins got caught watching the puck and no one was looking at the weak side and that allowed Boyle to skate into position in the slot. For the rare time, it was Boston that got burned puck-watching – not the Rangers.

I hope John Tortorella puts the following quote up on the bulletin board in the TD Garden prior to Game 5 as a reminder of what the Rangers need to do on Saturday.

“When we get a power play we need to be determined enough to go out and make a difference,” Boyle said to Dan Rosen of NHL.com. “We need to do it. It has to work. The games we lost, if we get a power-play goal it’s a different game.”

The King rallied his teammates with a pre-game speech and then went out and backed it up – especially in overtime as he counted key stops on Patrice Bergeron, Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand among his 37 saves.

“I told the guys before the game there was no way we were losing this game,” Lundqvist said. “We want to keep playing. We owe it to ourselves, to our fans. All our focus today was just on this game. Now we move our focus to the next game and the first period of that game. We will see how far that takes us.”

All of Lundqvist’s talk and play would mean nothing without Chris Kreider’s overtime winner. Again, puck and player movement played a key following a huge faceoff win by Derick Brassard. Lost in Hagelin’s “flukey” goal was the gorgeous flip pass Brassard made to spring the Swedish winger.

The game-winning goal goes to show that good things happen when players go to the net and pucks are put on goal or at least in areas of the ice where deflections turn into scoring chances and eventually goals.

While Rick Nash’s pass was precise as he managed to elude Chara’s wingspan, it was a defensive breakdown by one of the Bruins rookie defenseman that paved the way for Kreider to send the Garden faithful home with a smile and a dream.

Dougie Hamilton got caught on the outside of Kreider instead of being on the inside. The key to playing defense is to either put yourself between the puck and the goal or to put yourself between the puck and the man you are checking. Hamilton did neither and the series heads back to Boston for Game 5.

While addressing the media following the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien would not press the panic button.

“There is no panic here,” Julien said. “Had we been outworked and not been there at all we would be talking differently here, but we didn’t get outworked. All it was, as a team, was we didn’t execute as well as we have been. We have to go back home and play a better game.”

While there might be no panic, there might be some concern given the team’s history – blowing a 3-0 series to lead to Philadelphia in 2010 and nearly frittering away a 3-1 series lead to Toronto. There is also the specter of the Providence Bruins blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs.

As Pierre McGuire said, there are three things you need to create in a playoff series: concern, doubt and fear. If the Rangers can force a Game 6, it puts the seed of doubt in their mind. If the Blueshirts manage to extend the series to seven games, doubt will be replaced by fear.

Of course, all of that is moot unless the Rangers win Game 5.

Here are my random Ramblings for Game 4:

• It sure is nice to watch a game on any of the NBC family of channels and not have to listen to Pierre McGuire gush over all things Bruins. One note to CNBC, please ditch the stupidly annoying logo superimposed on the screen.
• The Rangers overtime was their first in four tries this year in the playoffs and was the Bruins first overtime loss in four tries. Lundqvist raised his playoff overtime record to 4-11.
• As big a story as the Rangers win is, the Brad Richards benching runs a close second and would have been an even bigger story had the Rangers lost. It was not an easy decision for Tortorella to bench one of the team’s leaders and Alternate Captains – especially given the relationship between the two, but it had to be done. Tortorella was correct when he said he was doing the player and the team disservice by playing Richards on the fourth line – especially if he is not going to produce on the power play.
• In the press conference Tortorella said, ‘‘By no means is this a situation where I take him out and I’m blaming him,’’ Tortorella said of Richards. ‘‘I need to make decisions about what I feel is right for our team to win tonight’s game, and that’s why I made that decision.’’
• Interesting opinions expressed on Twitter in reference to the Richards saga. Brett Hull tweeted “Coach T has lost his mind Richards has ability to change a game’s outcome”. Exactly when did Hull become such a brilliant hockey mind? How did that stint running the Dallas Stars turn out? Oh yeah, he ended up paying Sean Avery almost $2 million a year to play for the Rangers.
• Former Rangers center and current Boston Bruin Marc Savard decided to weigh in as well via Twitter: “Tortorella should get fired right after the game he has ruined all of his players’ confidence.” I guess those post-concussion syndrome blues must be in full bloom because the Game 4 Rangers did not seem to lack for any confidence. Savard did clarify his position later: “I’m just mad at Torts because if I recall in 2004 Richards helped him win the cup #connsmythe all I’m saying is live or die with your guy!!!” Given how long Torts stuck with Richards, I’d say the coach played him for as long as he could. Besides, Tortorella’s main responsibility is to the Rangers and doing whatever he thinks is best for the team.
• Andrew Gross of The Record pointed out that Lundqvist is 5-0 with a 0.98 goals against average, a .966 save percentage and two shutouts in elimination games at the Garden. Also, Gross wrote the Game 4 victory is the Rangers fifth overtime win in their history when facing elimination. The last time it happened, well, do the words, “Matteau! Matteau! Stephane Matteau!” ring a bell?
• The Blueshirts are 5-6 in Game 4 elimination games when they face a 3-0 series deficit.
• The Rangers problems scoring have been compounded by their defensemen’s inability to produce goals. Last year, Rangers blueliners produced 11 of the team’s 43 goals (25.6%) through 20 games. This year, through 11 games, the d-men have scored three of the Rangers 25 goals (12%). Of course, Marc Staal (three goals) has yet to play and Anton Stralman (three goals) might be done for the series.
• With the Rangers finally breaking through on the power play, the biggest slump in NYC belongs to Mets 1B Ike Davis (1-for-38).
• The Bruins have had 18 previous attempts at a playoff sweep and accomplish the feat 13 times.
• The Rangers HAVE to find a way to account for and slow down the Bruins defensemen. The Boston blueliners have accounted for 12 of the team’s 33 goals.

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If the New York Rangers want to return to the Eastern Conference Finals, they have one more hill to climb – and it is Mount Boston. Given the way the Blueshirts have been playing it might as well be Mount Everest.

After winning Game 7 on the road to eliminate the Washington Capitals, the Rangers will look to become only the fourth team to overcome a 3-0 deficit. The only potential saving grace is that one of the three teams to blow a 3-0 lead was the 2010 Boston Bruins, who were beaten by the Philadelphia Flyers.

In addition to the memory of 2010, Boston only has to think back a couple of weeks to realize they were about 10 minutes away from wasting a 3-1 series lead against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It is a point the Bruins are cognizant of.

“That fourth game is going to be the toughest one and out of any team in the NHL we should probably know that the best,” Johnny Boychuk said to Dan Rosen of NHL.com.

Bruins coach Claude Julien is well aware of his team’s problems closing out a series, but he believes his team is stronger now because of its struggles in the past.

‘‘We can talk about it all we want, but that’s in the past. We had to live with that and we still have to live with that,’’ Julien said to Ira Podell of the AP.

‘‘The Toronto series, I didn’t think our team was in the zone the way it is right now. I anticipate — knowing my team — that we’re going to come out the same next game and certainly not be the Jekyll and Hyde team that we were in the first round.’’

The Rangers have no one to blame but themselves for the predicament they find themselves in. They have not been able to build on any momentum they have gained in the series. The biggest condemnation has been their inability to score goals on any consistent basis – and more importantly – their inability to extend the two one-goal leads they have had in the series.

In Game 1, the Rangers took a 2-1 lead on Derek Stepan’s goal 14 seconds into the third period. However, that lead didn’t even last three minutes before Torey Krug’s power play goal tied the game.

Last night, the Rangers seemed content with Taylor Pyatt’s goal early in the second period as they took their skates off the throttle. That goal pretty much sums what the Rangers need to be doing more of in this series: winning faceoffs, getting shots on goal with traffic at the top of the crease in front of Tuukka Rask.

Sadly, for Rangers fans, their team has not been doing that enough while the Bruins have been winning games doing it – just look at Dan Paille’s game-winner in Game 3.

For years it has been my contention that to win in the playoffs you have to have offense and score goals because, for the most part, the very nature of the playoffs lends itself to tighter defensive play. That is why special teams play is so important because power plays give teams a better chance to score goals – unless of course you are the New York Rangers.

Rather than look to take the play to the Bruins, the Rangers sat back and turned the game over to Henrik Lundqvist. While he played like The King last night, save for the giveaway on the Bruins tying goal, it is too much to ask any goaltender to make a one-goal lead stand up for 36 minutes – especially when the team in front of him doesn’t have much of a clue defensively (more on that later).

Just how one-sided did the game become? The Bruins outshot the Rangers 25-10 following Pyatt’s goal.

Ryan Callahan summed up the team’s play during the second half of the game.

“They grabbed the momentum in the middle of the second and we never got it back,” the Captain admitted to Larry Brooks of the NY Post. “I don’t think we handled their surge correctly.”

One of the earliest notes I made in the game was that the Rangers “ice balance” was off. Again they were getting caught watching the puck in their own zone which, in turn, leaves them vulnerable to plays from the weak side – a problem throughout the series.

The Rangers ice balance is taking a real beating when it comes to defending the Bruins defensemen at the points. Because they are continuing to pack the slot area in an attempt to clog the shooting lanes, the Bruins blueliners are having free reign at the point – which is a huge mistake given that Boston’s defensemen have scored 11 of the teams 31 goals.

That problem gets compounded when you don’t block shots because of the traffic in front of Lundqvist. The result is you have tying goals like Boychuk’s goal in the third period.

The idea of ice balance has become a truly foreign subject in the offensive zone. Despite watching their first goal occur as result of traffic in front of Rask, the Blueshirts continually refuse to make life difficult for Rask. The Bruins netminder had a game almost as easy as Braden Holtby did in Game 2.

Their ice balance is off on the forecheck because, as Pierre McGuire pointed out early and often, the Bruins were having an easy time breaking out of the zone. If the Rangers are not going to go harder, and more balanced, on their forecheck, then they have to switch to a forecheck that looks to contain and slow down the Bruins breakouts.

“At times we struggled to get through and when we got through, we just didn’t sustain our forecheck,” Tortorella admitted to Steve Zipay of Newsday. “A team that is rolling their lines like they are, we need to have some time in their end zone. As the game went on, we were there less and less. So it pops up on you.”

Tortorella and his Rangers have a road ahead of them, but they can’t concern themselves with winning four straights games. They have to concern themselves with just winning one game.

‘‘We’ll meet (Wednesday), practice, and we’re going to try to win a game,’’ Tortorella told Podell. ‘‘That’s all you can do. Down 3-0, it’s a very tough situation, but I have full faith in our athletes. They will be ready to play another game.

‘‘You try to win one and see where you go from there.’’

It looks like the Rangers could be shorthanded heading into Game 4 and beyond. Anton Stralman appeared to suffer a possible concussion after being rammed into the boards by Milan Lucic late in the second period. Chris Kreider caught an inadvertent stick to the eye in the third period and did not return.

If Stralman can’t go, Tortorella will have to turn to Matt Gilroy with either John Moore or Steve Eminger having to step up to top four defensemen minutes.

Here are my random Ramblings for Game 3:

• The other two teams to erase a 3-0 series deficit were the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders.
• Since Boston trailed 4-1 in Game 7 against Toronto, Rask has allowed just five goals.
• According to NHL.com, last night’s loss was the first time the Rangers lost a game when they led going into the third period. They won 16 games during the regular season and two in the playoffs. To take it one step further, the Blueshirts had gone 99 straight games with a regulation time loss when leading after two periods. The last time they lost in regulation after leading going into the third period: February 4, 2010 against the Capitals.
• McGuire’s rather loud rant against the Rangers power play was spot on and well-deserved. However, he did throw Torts a bone about his PP prowess as an assistant coach to John Muckler with the Buffalo Sabres. As annoying as McGuire can be, he was right in this case. Tortorella was an assistant for six years in Buffalo (1989 through 1995) and the Sabres has a Top 10 PP four times (including the #1 unit in 1991-92 and the #2 unit in 1993-94). The other two seasons the Sabres PP was 14th and 11th (lockout shortened 1994-95).
• Here is a solution to stop McGuire’s vaunted Bruins 4th line’s forecheck. The Rangers need to play solid man-to-man defense. Wingers cover the defensemen at the points and the center and the two defensemen concentrate on the Bruins forwards. With the Bruins’ point men covered, their forwards have one of their major outlets cut off.
• The Bruins have outscored the Rangers 5-1 in the third period in this series.
• The Game 3 loss ends the Rangers nine game winning streak at Madison Square Garden and marked just the fourth loss at MSG suffered by Henrik Lundqvist in 16 decisions against the Bruins (12-4-0).
• On a personal note, I write this Blog and do these Recaps because it combines two of my great passions: writing and hockey. It also helps to relieve the stress and aggravation that builds up during the hockey season and especially during the playoffs. With that said, I believe the Bruins could put my 49-year-old broken down arse in goal and I would be able to beat the Rangers – and possibly even shut them out – even though I haven’t played competitive hockey in any form for almost 20 years!

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Here we go again. For the second straight playoff series the New York Rangers find themselves down two games to none after dropping the first two contests on the road. While the Blueshirts have shown that they can recover from such a deficit, you don’t want to keep going back to that well because one of these days that well is going to be bone dry.

The Rangers are tempting fate if they are looking for history to repeat itself because the Boston Bruins are not the Washington Capitals. The Bruins are a better team than the Caps, have better goaltending, and most importantly, they are a battle-tested playoff team a point that Henrik Lundqvist confirmed.

‘‘We’ve done it before,’’ Lundqvist said to Dan Rosen of nhl.com, ‘‘but I think we are playing a better team now so it’s going to be tough to do it.’’

However, history will not be on the Rangers ide because no NHL team has ever rebounded from being down 2-0 in back-to-back series.

The first thing I wrote down in my notes for Game 2 was written on Saturday night. I wrote that the Rangers needed to capitalize on the momentum shifts that were going to occur on Sunday – something they did not do after scoring late in the second period and early in the third period of Game 1.

The Blueshirts did show resiliency after spotting the Bruins leads of 1-0 and 2-1 with Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash stepping up to score goals to tie the game. Derek Stepan nearly put the Rangers in front about eight and half minutes into the second period, but his shot hit the post.

Boston took advantage of poor Rangers defensive coverage following a faceoff win at the Bruins blue line during four-on-four play as Johnny Boychuk’s wrist shot beat a screened Lundqvist for the eventual winning goal.

Poor defensive coverage plagued the Rangers all night long as they kept getting caught watching the puck and not paying attention to the weak side.

That deficiency pretty much ended the game when the Bruins scored 26 seconds into the third period on a play that was identical to Boston’s overtime goal in Game 1. Dan Girardi, on ice for all five Bruins goals, was caught watching the puck and lost track of Brad Marchand in front.

‘‘We felt really good going into the third, and to have that type of goal go in — it’s just two-on-two — it hurts you,’’ Tortorella admitted to Howard Ulmer of the AP. ‘‘We couldn’t generate anything, and then they’re just going to fill the middle and they’re just going to jam you.’’

The Rangers constant ignoring of the weak side if one of the reasons why Bruins’ defensemen have scored four of Boston’s eight goals in this series. Given that Boston’s blueliners have scored 10 of the team’s 30 goals, the Rangers must pay attention to the defensemen and they must not get caught focusing solely on the puck.

While the Bruins finished off the scoring at 12:39, the Bruins realized that the series is closer than Game 2 showed.

‘‘We didn’t play our best,’’ Marchand told Dan Rosen. ‘‘They had a lot of opportunities that if they would’ve converted on, then it would be a completely different story right now. I think especially in the second period, they took it to us, but we were able to bounce back. It’s definitely a very even series.’’

With the game out of hand, I think Coach John Tortorella lost a chance to “gamble” on a little gamesmanship.

Pierre McGuire made a point of a Zdeno Chara slap shot from the point acting like a “curveball”. Add to that his “knucklepuck” goal in Game 1 and I would have asked the referees to measure his stick to make sure it if legal. The worst that would happen is that the Rangers would have to kill a power play. The best case is you get Chara to have to change his sticks and possibly deflect attention from the Rangers poor third period and transfer it on to the coach – a tactic Tortorella uses in his post-game press conferences.

Speaking of the Rangers coach, Tortorella is confident his team will respond when they return to Madison Square Garden.

“We don’t want to lose two games here, no one does,” Torts told Brett Cyrgalis of the NY Post. “But there’s no give in this team. There will be no give in this team. We need to go win a game. Not look anywhere else, just try to win our first home game this series.”

Here are my random Ramblings for Game 2:

• First off, it is amazing that a storied franchise like the Boston Bruins would have resort to that low-rent “Woo” cheer following every goal. It is cheesy when the New York Islanders do it and even more cheesy for an Original Six team to do it. If the Rangers ever did that at the Garden, I would be extremely tempted to burn all my Rangers gear.
• Sunday’s game was the first time Lundqvist allowed more than four goals was a 5-2 loss to Anaheim on March 9, 2011. It in the ensuing 151 games (regular season and playoffs), Lundqvist allowed four goals only 13 times.
• Lundqvist has now started 29 straight games against Boston.
• The Rangers power(less) play is in full playoff mode. They are 0-for-8 against Boston, goalless in their last 19 attempts, and 2-for-36 in the playoffs.
• The Rangers have allowed 20 goals in the playoffs, with 10 of them coming in the second period. When you factor in the three overtime goals, the Blueshirts have allowed 13 goals during the long-change.
• Many fans are calling for Brad Richards to be benched. Unless Ryane Clowe or Darroll Powe is ready to get back into the lineup, you can forget that idea. Kris Newbury is not going to get the job done either. The Blueshirts are better off with Richards in the hopes he somehow finds his [playoff magic. In the meantime, keep him off the power play – especially on the point.
• Speaking of Richards, Ron Duguay spoke with WFAN’s John Jastremski on Saturday night. Duguay believes that Richards’ problems are all mental and that he needs to relax. Much has been made about Richards slowing down and losing a step or two. That is possible, but there are also ways to make up for that through smarter play and better positioning.
• Richards also spoke about Nash’s offensive struggles. Duguay pointed out that teams are much more diligent about checking the opposition’s top players – much like the Rangers did against Alex Ovechkin. Players like Nash have to learn other ways to score.
• Much has been made about Tortorella’s comment about Carl Hagelin’s play on the power play. The only problem with his comment is he should have extended it to all of his players except Lundqvist and Martin Biron – and the first ones at the top of the list should have been Tortorella and Mike Sullivan.
• While Pierre McGuire is like a hungry dog with a bone when he fixates on a player or topic, kudos for him questioning one of the referees when Zdeno Chara broken a Rangers forward’s stick. McGuire correctly questioned why the referee along the icing line, and only a few feet away, did not call the penalty while the referee in the neutral zone had to make the call.
• Heading into Game 3 the Rangers have to be much more diligent with their defensive zone coverage. They must spend as much time worrying about the weak side play as they are on the puck – especially the way the Boston defensemen are getting involved in the offense. The Rangers have to be quicker and more aggressive on their forecheck as way to slow down the Bruins breakouts. When the Bruins do break out, all five Rangers have to know what their defensive assignments are.
• During the interminable pre-game show Mike Milbury said, “I haven’t heard John Tortorella take responsibility” for the Rangers power play woes. Funny, but I don’t recall Milbury ever taking responsibility for the mess that he made on Long Island. Milbury deals away Chara, Bill Muckalt and a 1st round pick (Ottawa drafts Jason Spezza) and acquires Alexei Yashin who is signed for a 10-year/$90 million contract. He deals Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish. He then drafts Rick DiPietro first overall to replace Luongo, thus passing on the likes of Dany Heatley and Marian Gaborik. Hey Mike, for moves like that you deserve to beaten with your own shoe.

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