1) Yeah, it’s great to be at the game. But sometimes when you’re at the game, you’re writing on deadline and blogging and tweeting and getting e-mails and text messages from the office, and looking up teams’ all-time Game 7 records (Rangers 3-5, but 3-0 at home and 3-1 since 1974; Ottawa 0-4, 0-3 on the road) and so you miss stuff. Like I completely missed Daniel Alfredsson’s tantrums on the bench after he was sat down by Paul MacLean, along with Jason Spezza, for a power play. Holy Franklin Delano Roosevelt, did Alfie lose it. Three times.
2) Sometimes I just think this whole game of hockey is a matter of if the puck goes in the net or it doesn’t. I know, that’s the bottom line. But it’s also how we tend to judge teams and games and play. I mean, if the Rangers had scored a couple in Game 5 playing the exact same game they played, would everybody have been ripping into their effort, or their heart, or their physical presence? Because I thought they played their best game of the series to that point in Game 5, and lost because they didn’t score. And in Game 6, as much character as they showed—and they did—what if they didn’t score all those goals in the second period? Would we be looking today at that performance as a clunker? Because I don’t think we’d be lauding them today if they played the exact same game and lost if the puck hadn’t gone in. You know what I’m saying?
3) And on that note, I said at the time, when the goals started going in, that the Brandon Prust-Chris Neil fight was now going to be seen as the turning point. Well, yeah, it fired up the Rangers … but it also fired up the home crowd, especially since Neil got in a few good ones and then played to the crowd. And, again, if they have that same fight and the puck doesn’t go in, are we even talking about that fight. Or maybe we’re talking about how it helped Ottawa? You know?
4) The Rangers power play came up enormous for them in this game … after failing awfully in the first period, with John (no goals since Jan. 24) Mitchell, for God’s sake, on the second unit. And no matter what happens in Game 7 or any subsequent series, the Rangers MUST address the power play this summer in terms of personnel and plan. ‘Cause they were thisclose to being done for the season because of that PP in this series.
5) Anybody else think it’s a joke (I know a lot of you do, because you said it last night), that you can drive-by, blind-side, late, head-shot somebody without so much as a minor penalty, and with the league’s approval, but if you shove a legit NHL tough guy in front of the bench it’s roughing. I know that’s not a smart penalty by Mike Rupp, by any means, but shouldn’t the really ugly stuff be called if you’re calling that? Dave Maloney was right on the radio last night, that it’s aasen-backwards. That they call every little ticky-tack hook or hold, or mild stick-whack or a little facewash after the whistle—all the old-time stuff through which, once upon a time, you had to battle in the postseason—and they let all the dangerous crap go. Aasen-backwards.
6) And, seriously, could they get more calls (on both sides) wrong? The Nick Foligno goalie interference? The final goal? Please.
7) Speaking of cheap shots and artists of said cheap shots, Chris Neil should not have been playing in this game in the first place because he should have been suspended. But then the referees just let him do all his garbage, like he always does. He cheap-shotted Carl Hagelin. He got Marian Gaborik three times (cleanly) on his first shift. He got Henrik Lundqvist and Marc Staal (not cleanly). He got a free shot at Brad Richards after a whistle right in front of the referee. He clearly interfered with Lundqvist on the 3-2 goal that should not have been allowed (inconclusive evidence, did they say?). And he threatened to get Michael Del Zotto after Del Zotto lit him up behind the net (Neil stayed down, but didn’t miss a shift). But the referees never see any of the stuff he pulls in a game, and don’t forget, he has no prior suspension record. So as long as the NHL refuses to suspend him, he will never have a record, so then they can’t suspend him. Or something like that. I have a lot more to say about Neil, who should be hearing from the NHL about his threat on Del Zotto (but won’t).
8) The result won’t show it, but it sure looked simple to me, when they killed penalties (and didn’t kill one) and when they were protecting leads, and when they were looking for some forecheck shifts in the Ottawa end: Man, do they miss Brian Boyle.
9) Gotta say, it took a couple of games, but Derek Stepan sure showed up. And Brad Richards had an enormous game.
10) Did you hear/read the Chris Kreider quotes about loving this team? Good for that kid. Showed some of that scoring touch, got the game-winner in a crucial Game 6 as his first NHL goal … and more important, we got a look at how he uses those wheels the way Carl Hagelin uses his.
11) Two more wins for the road teams last night. Home-ice advantage? Try this: Home teams are 16-28 in these playoffs.
12) All three Rangers game-winning goals in this series have now been scored by Boston College products (Boyle-2, Kreider). Which could be a good omen since, in 1994 the Conn Smythe winner who had four game-winning goals in the playoffs was also a kid from B.C.
13) I still don’t get how some of you guys absolutely quit on your team down 1-0 in the first period (again), absolutely tear them a new one, top to bottom, crucify players as uncaring, untrying pansies who need to be traded immediately, talk about the coach as an idiot, and even bring up the Sean Avery thing all over again … then go back to being die-hard fans the minute they tie the game, or go ahead, or win the game, as if nothing happened. I don’t really give a rat’s tail how you feel or what you go through. I just don’t get it.
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Brad Richads.
2) Henrik Lundqvist.
3) Derek Stepan.
Dore33’s Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist (is there really a question here?).
2) Derek Stepan (FINALLY!!!).
3) Chris Kreider (first career goal).
AP photos, above.