Good game day New York Ranger fans out there. I’m sure you die-hard fans have a little pep in your step today after a dominating win on Saturday. I know I am ready for game two after an impressive game one thrashing of Quebec’s darling Montreal Canadiens. I love listening to Canadiens coach Mike Theirren have to answer questions in both English and French. Nothing against the French language, I just know he was mortified by the loss at the Bell Centre and the way in which they lost. So having to not only answer as to why they lost seven to two once, but twice. In this post I’d like to delve a little deeper into the specifics of the game systematically. First the basics of the game though, and what the New York Rangers need to continue to take further control of the series!
The New York Rangers took game one over right from puck drop. Martin St. Louis scored the first goal at 4:35 of the opening frame and that had to galvanize the Rangers players. I wish it were for a different reason but since Marty’s mom passed away. The team is running like a well oiled machine right now for Marty St Louis and his family. This team has felt for Marty St Louis and it seems he has taken some of the leadership responsibilities that are now spread out among assistant captains and some of the gray beards like St Louis. After that goal the New York Rangers pounced on Montreal like a cat on a mouse.
Staying all over the Montreal Canadiens and rallying behind St. Louis will be a key in game two.
The Canadiens came out swinging most of the second period. One could argue that they held the possession advantage for nineteen minutes of the second period taking ten shots on goal to the Rangers eight. The second period is more about how Montreal came out playing and less about the Rangers laying back.
The New York Rangers still had their opportunities during the middle frame but Montreal was desperate to get back into the game. They were able to put in a greasy goal to get back into the game at 12:38, even though there were too many Montreal players on the ice. That type of infraction is not reviewable. In my opinion that rule should change. Even if it’s only for the playoffs. It’s not like Toronto has sixteen games to watch. The Ranger game was the only NHL action at that time and the entire day. Come on NHL! They should be able to call the refs and over rule the call on the ice. Which was a good goal of course!
Unfortunately officiating, both good and bad is part of the game, and if the Rangers can continue to dominate, they make bad officiating a minor factor.
I expect the Canadiens to come out stronger tonight in their building. They were embarrassed in front of their fans. The New York Rangers have rallied around the St Louis family even attending the funeral service and will come again with everything they’ve got. Contrary to what’s been said by the media in Montreal, Kreider had no reason to hurt Carey Price. He’s going to miss the rest of this series at the very least. So the Canadiens will have to go with backup goalie Peter Budaj. Nothing against him but he’s no Carey Price. For his career he sports a 2.76 GAA and a .909 Save percentage. That’s his regular season statistics. In seven playoff games he is a much different goaltender. The Goals against average goes up to 5.13 goals per game and the save percentage goes way down to .843, ouch!
Now if you were watching the second period thinking to yourself the Rangers never make it easy. You’re right, they usually don’t. However, if we look a little deeper into the first forty minutes of this game. We can see that the Rangers had those two goals late in the second period coming even though Montreal was coming hard. In five on five (close) events. The Rangers held a sixty-eight percent advantage and scored three goals while the game was close.
For those of you that don’t understand Corsi. It is pretty simple and tells a lot about how a team is playing. Corsi is a measure of all shot attempts that either went in the net, on goal, missed the net, or were blocked by a defender. In game one the Rangers had sixty-two shot attempts to the Canadiens fifty-two. In this case the Rangers sixty-two attempts is sixty-eight percent of the 114 total Corsi events in the game. Corsi Close refers to game situations where the score is tied in any period including the third or within one goal in the first or second periods. This does a pretty good job of removing score effects. Such as when the third period began and our Rangers laid back and protected their four to one lead. This is often how the Rangers win games. The idea behind Corsi is that if you are taking shots then you have possession of the puck. There’s also Fenwick but that doesn’t account for shot attempts blocked but that’s for another post.
Our Rangers have been able to play their best hockey in tight games. Among the four teams still playing, the Rangers are second in these Close situations. They also lead all sixteen playoff teams in Close situations by scoring Seventy-two percent of all goals scored while games are close. Montreal is third. The Canadiens are a good possession team as are the Rangers.
The Canadiens are a rather small teams so they try to outnumber the opponent during all puck battles along the boards in the defensive zone at even strength. Same as the Rangers do but the Canadiens are a little more aggressive with it since they are overall a really small team. Instead of the normal three on two battle along the walls, the Canadiens will have a fourth player close by to free up the puck. The Rangers still won the board battles in-game one and once we have possession of the puck in the Canadiens zone. The defense has to scramble to get into position while the Rangers can pass to an open player on the weak side. You will see this a lot on both sides of the ice. Since both teams use the overload.
The Canadiens have been great on the power play. Converting on twenty-six percent of their opportunities! They use a 1-3-1 strategy once they get set up in the Rangers zone. The Rangers have been using the same setup all year long, it just hasn’t been as consistent for them. I don’t think the Rangers will go three for seven every game. I also doubt the Canadiens will go zero for three every game. If the Rangers want to win games against this team, it’ll have to be at five on five. As I showed earlier the Rangers are one of the top even strength teams in the NHL. With Price out and the New York Rangers playing good hockey like game one. This could be an ideal series for the Rangers. Seven game series aren’t good if you plan on going to the Cup Finals.
So that my faithful fans, is why New York beat Montreal in game one. They controlled the puck most of the game and Alain Vineault did a masterful job managing the lineup with Brassard going down too. Dominic Moore fit in on the third line like a glove. Now it is time for Alain Vineault to press the right buttons again for game two. He has to decide who plays on the fourth line if Brassard can’t go.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on Kreider and Price and if the New York Rangers will win tonight and take both games in Montreal.