Although the New York Rangers held the lead all through game one, the match up with the Pittsburgh Penguins looked a little too close for comfort.
Right at the very start of their race to the Cup, the New York Rangers played their fast brand of hockey to a T. The Rangers were so fast, in fact, that their speed proved to be problematic for the Pittsburgh Penguins just 28 seconds after puck drop.
As Rick Nash carried play quickly up the boards, Derick Brassard flew down the middle of the ice and split the Penguins defense. Nash then fired at the net and the rebound was sent straight to Brassard in wide open ice. Left with no time to react, Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was unable to keep Brassard’s shot from hitting twine and just like that the Rangers took the lead.
The play was so quick that Brassard’s goal was only one second shy of the record for the fastest playoff goal in franchise history.
It took the Penguins all of twenty minutes to adjust to the Rangers’ uptempo game, but after they regrouped it would be a much closer two periods.
In the second period, the Rangers’ defense started to falter and the Penguin’s heavily offensive team were able to capitalize. With the Rangers first line and defensemen Dan Boyle and Marc Staal on the ice, Pens’ Blake Comeau shoveled a puck past the goal line.
New York Rangers
With that said, here’s the first adjustment that has to happen: defense has to find a way to stay strong throughout a full sixty minutes. And Boyle especially needs to accomplish this. He had a couple turnovers and his transitional play appeared to be subpar. Boyle has shown in the past that he can do better. If he could find his legs in the next game and maybe provide more offense on the second power play unit, the Rangers would have slightly better chances at a win in game two than they did last night.
Speaking of the power play, the second adjustment has to be in this department. The Rangers went 1-in-5 on the man-advantage in game one. That’s not a horrible thing, but it could be much much better. Their power play used to be lethal in the regular season at one point. But now that the Rangers are in the playoffs, their 5-on-4 has to start clicking again if they truly want to go far.
Other than their defense and the power play, there’s not much else that the Rangers should change.
Offense for the Rangers was definitely there: Fleury was given a hard time blocking 38 total shots on goal. If it wasn’t for the goaltender’s tremendous focus in that game, the Rangers would’ve easily had a couple more goals.
Additionally, their approach to the game was smart. Head coach Alain Vigneault wanted the Rangers to play between whistles and that’s exactly what they did.
Their incredible discipline worked big time to their advantage as the Penguins took penalty after penalty. Many of those could have been avoided, but emotions got the best of the Pittsburgh team and it basically cost them the game.
The Penguins know they have to have more control going into the next game so the Rangers really have to make those improvements in defense and the power play to guarantee another win.
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