First a couple of things … Looks like we’re going to try to do the Live Chat with Dave Maloney at some point Wednesday afternoon after practice, assuming the Rangers do indeed have a practice, whether it be a full workout or an optional.
Second, our friend Manny (Nannu, Nanny, Diver, etc.) has put up the BEFORE pictures for The 5th Sometimes-Annual, 2013-2014, Paul Mara Playoff Beard Contest
He said, and I quote: “I assume a few more entries will slowly roll in from our more lazy Boneheads…”
Here’s my story from The Journal News and lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
NEW YORK – If you’re not getting better during a playoff series, you’re getting worse.
Having played in five playoff series the last two springtimes, the core of the Rangers understands this. So does their newest player, Martin St. Louis, a former Stanley Cup champ, and Alain Vigneault, who has 79 playoff games as a head coach.
Don’t underestimate lessons such as these. Inexperienced teams, as the Rangers were just a few years ago, might relax after a win, as the Rangers did just a few years ago.
They head into Game 2 against Philadelphia, on Sunday at the Garden at noon, off a 4-1 win in which they were the better team, but were 1-1 in the third period and had to kill a big penalty to keep it tied. Statistically, the Rangers dominated. It was still a game they could have lost.
“I think they’re going to be a lot different and we’ve got to match that, or even more,” said Brad Richards, a Cup champ and Conn Smythe Trophy winner with 94 career playoff games, coming off a three-point Game 1. “This is where we have to realize the level is going to go way higher, and you can’t get caught … resting on Game 1. It’s going to be a whole new speed and intensity level, and we’ve got to rise to that.
“We got on them quick. We tried to move the puck up quick and get it out of our zone. We didn’t spend a lot of time there. That’s the way we’ve been playing all year. But like I said, it’s going to have to be quicker. There’s going to be more hits. That’s just the way it goes in a playoff series. Every game is going to be faster and better.”
The Rangers will face Ray Emery in goal again, as Steve Mason (probable concussion) practiced at the Garden Saturday but was ruled out by coach Craig Berube and general manager Paul Holmgren. Mason will not even dress as the backup, Berube said.
Emery was hardly the problem for the Flyers. Their problem was with the way the Rangers defended, and dominated possession and zone time.
Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi shut down the Flyers’ top line, holding Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek without a point or a shot on goal. It was the third time in five meetings this season that those two were off the scoresheet, and in one of the other two they combined for a meaningless goal with less than two minutes left in a Garden loss.
“The best way to play defense is to hold on to the puck and keep them in their own end,” Rangers winger Rick Nash said.
“I do know when you play against a line like that, you’ve got to do the right things with the puck,” Vigneault said. “And so far, I think we’ve done a good job there.”
Now they have to do it again. And better.