Monday, April 24, 2006

Halfway to Heaven

The Devils will not win 15 in a Row

The Rangers came back and played hockey tonight but speed still kills.

UPDATE: The subtitle is, I think, accurate. The Ranger team that played the second and third periods last night was impressive enough that they should win one in the Garden. In fact, two series come to mind as Must to Avoid:

In 2001, facing Carolina in the first round, the Devils won the first two and then let the Hurricanes back into the series. They won in six, but the injuries from that series--and that it went more games than it had to--contributed greatly to losing the Cup to an Avalanche team they should have defeated.

In 2003, they dominated the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals. Then they lost two multiple-OT games in Anaheim, and the series ended up going seven games.

If the Rangers are still playing in May, this still will be a good series win, but it won't bode well for playing either Buffalo or Tampa Bay in the next round.

UPDATE 2: Berube summarizes the final nail in the coffin as I saw it; E. J. Hradek at ESPN makes an interesting comparison.

Late in the second period, with the Rangers turning some momentum in their favor, they received a huge break. With Grant Marshall in the box serving a double minor, Madden was whistled for hooking. The call gave the Rangers a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.

Again, the Rangers couldn't capitalize. Without Jagr, they moved the puck around the perimeter without purpose. They failed to get what you would call a "good scoring chance."

Down 2-0 with 2:13 to play in the second period, the Rangers have a full two-minute five-on-three power play and a chance to get back into the gameÂ?and the series. They pass sloppily in the DevilsÂ? zone and turn it over a few times, but manage a couple of legitimate scoring chances, on one of which Petr Sykora hits the post after Brodeur barely gets a piece of his one-timer from twenty feet out. They were just that close to a 2-1 game.

No one will confuse me with a Ranger fan, but Hradek does no one anfavorsrs understating the threat the Rangers presented at the time.


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