Friday, May 18, 2012

A Look Back; Game 3 of the '94 Eastern Conference Finals

The 2012 Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils is tied 1-1 as the series heads back to Jersey. The two teams were in the same position in the 1994 Conference Finals, and Game 3 was a game to remember.

With the series tied, Game 3 was another thriller that ended after multiple overtimes. Adam Graves opened the scoring early in the first period and gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead.  The Devils tied the game soon after the Rangers took the lead, and the first period ended a one apiece.

The Rangers took the lead again in the second period when Steve Larmer scored on the power play. The lead was short lived and the Devils tied the game once again, and the game remained tied through regulation.

In the first overtime, it was all about the goalies. Both Mike Richter and Martin Brodeur made key saves, and kept the game tied.

In the second overtime, the Rangers Stephane Matteau found himself in front of the net in the middle of a scramble for the puck. Matteau took two swipes at the puck and on the second swipe he backhanded the puck by the left pad of Brodeur.

The Rangers won the game 3-2 in double overtime after blowing two one goal leads in the first and second periods. Matteau is famous for his Game 7 heroics, but his Game 3 winner put the Rangers back in control of the series.

The Rangers outplayed the Devils the whole game and managed to get 50 shots on Martin Brodeur, while Mike Richter faced only 31 shots for the game.

The Rangers took a 2-1 series lead, and took back home ice from the Devils.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Look Back; Game 2 of the '94 Eastern Conference Finals
Last night the Rangers blanked the Devils 3-0 to take a 1-0 series lead. Henrik Lundqvist outplayed his opponent at the other end and got his second shutout of the postseason.

Unlike 1994 the Rangers have grabbed the series lead.

The Rangers were coming off a disheartening double overtime loss to the Devils in Game 1, and they made sure that Game 2 would not be close, at all.

Who better than the Ranger captain to get the Rangers back on track, and less than two minutes into the game, Mark Messier put the Rangers up 1-0. The Rangers were dominating the Devils in every aspect of the game.The Rangers were hitting everything that was wearing a red and black sweater, including Messier's memorable hit in the first minute of the game that sent Scott Stevens to the ground.

In the second period, Bill Guerin almost tied the game for the Devils, but Mike Richter made one of his best saves of the playoffs. Guerin came in from the wide side and tried to wait for Richter to go down so he could lift the puck over the glove, but Richter stayed with Guerin and preserved the 1-0 lead.

After Richter's save, one of his 16 saves in the game, the game was never in question.

Sergei Nemchinov scored just 13 seconds into the third period to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Adam Graves and Glenn Anderson added goals later in the third, and the Rangers thumped the Devils 4-0 at the Garden.

The Rangers evened the series at one game apiece, and the series moved to New Jersey, the Rangers home away from home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Look Back; Game One of the '94 Eastern Conference Finals

Eighteen years ago tomorrow the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils began one of the most talked about playoff series in the history of hockey. We all know how it ended with the famous radio call of Howie Rose yelling Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!, but let's look at the games that lead up to that moment.
Game 1- The Rangers and Devils began their series on a Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. It was a game that most people have probably forgotten about, especially the Ranger fans. Let's jump straight to the end of regulation. The Rangers had a 3-2 lead after goals by Steve Larmer, Sergei Nemchinov, and Sergei Zubov, but they could not hold off the Devils late push.

With time running down in the third period, Claude Lemieux shoveled a shot by Mike Richter and tied the game at 3. It sent Game 1 into overtime, and sent a silencing message the Garden crowd.

The Rangers and Devils played a scoreless first overtime, and fifteen minutes into the second one, Stephane Richer took a pass down the side boards, beat Adam Graves wide, and beat Mike Richter over the shoulder.

Game 1 was a memorable one for Devils fans, as the Devils shocked the Rangers by scoring late in the third period, and then delivering the winning goal off the stick of Stephan Richer.

The Devils had all the momentum, took a 1-0 series lead, and home ice from the top seeded Rangers. The Rangers looked to bounce back after the Game 1 loss in Game 2 on May 17th.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Blue Heaven in Game Seven

The New York Rangers have been pushed to the limit in both series this postseason, and both times they have answered with a victory.

The Rangers were coming off a bad loss in Game 6 to the Washington Capitals, where they were beaten in every phase of the game. The pressure was all on the blueshirts to win on home ice,  while the Caps were playing with house money. There is no doubt there was a nervous feel in the crowd hidden by the chants of Let's Go Rangers, but the Garden faithful gave the Rangers all they had.

Brad Richards opened the scoring less than two minutes into the game, when he blasted a pass from Carl Hagelin by the glove of goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Rangers and Capitals played a scoreless second period, with both teams getting chances, but the defense was stellar.

In the third period, Michael Del Zotto followed Marian Gaborik's blocked shot, and snapped a shot by the  stick of Holtby, and the Rangers grabbed a crucial two goal lead.

Less than one minute later, Roman Hamerlik threw a floater towards Henrik Lundqvist, and the puck found the back of the net. Lundqvist was screened, and did not see the puck until it was too late, and the Rangers lead was cut to one. The fans immediately supported Lundqvist after he gave up the fluke goal by chanting "Henrik!".

Later in the third period, Brian Boyle drove to the net with the puck, and was taken down by a Caps defenseman. The puck looked to have crossed the line before the referee blew the whistle, but the ref called the goal off with no review.

The Caps desperately tried to put the pressure on the Rangers defense, but Lundqvist and the Rangers did not break, and held on for 2-1 win.

Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves, and will play in his first Conference Finals is his career. Carl Hagelin assisted on both Ranger goals, and played his best game of the series, and maybe the playoffs.

The Rangers are now 5-0 in Game 7's at home, and 2-0 in Game 7's at home this postseason.

The Rangers will face the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals Monday night at 8 pm at Madison Square Garden.