I thought maybe after seeing the Rangers come back from a 3-1 deficit to hand the Caps a loss in Game 7 of their series that they would be rest for the Finals. Maybe they were ready for Game 1 of the Finals but not Game 2. I wasn’t ready for a 6-2 defeat and neither were they, my cable provider wasn’t either, they cut out the game mid-way through the third so I did not have the privilege of seeing the sixth goal get scored, I’m sure it was dandy.
Tampa is quite an interesting study. Their team is built on height. It all starts in the back with 6’7″ Ben Bishop in goal, defenseman Andrej Sustr (6’7″), Victor Hedman (6’6″), Braydon Coyle (6’5″) and there’s forward Brian Boyle 6’7″. There are quite a few defenseman over six feet as well, it’s like Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman decided to find all the tall guys and put them on the ice. It’s an interesting strategy if that’s really what it’s all about.
I will say that if you play Tampa Bay with the Rangers on NHL 15 on Xbox One, they seem to be the Blueshirts’ kryptonite. It’s amazing how such an offense and defensive powered team can be shut down by Tampa but can run over just about every other team in the game. I’m not saying this is scientific by any means, it just seems coincidental considering I played Tampa a few times earlier in the day and found them difficult to beat.
There’s an interesting Henrik Lundqvist stat that needs to be addressed as well: in his playoff career he is 5-12 in Game 2 of he Ranger’s playoff series. Let’s break that down further:
Game 1 11-8
Game 2 5-12
Game 3 9-9
Game 4 10-8
Game 5 6-9
Game 6 5-5
Game 7 6-1
It looks like the King comes out of the box strong and then takes the foot off the gas. The third game could go either way, the fourth he mostly bounces back and wins, Game 5 is probably not so good followed by him losing out the series. You are going to have to get to him early. If Tampa is to win this series they can’t take it to seven games and John Cooper is going to have to know that. Side note on John Cooper, he coached the Norfolk Admirals to an American Hockey League championship and won the Calder Cup during the 2011-2012 season.
Obviously the Rangers were dominated in every aspect of the game on Monday night. They had no answer for how to shut down Tyler Johnson, no answer for how to beat Ben Bishop on the power play, no answer for how to kill penalties and the score showed it. I questioned the Rangers after their series with the Penguins and after the comeback series victory against the Caps I thought maybe they had figured it out but they are going to have to rediscover themselves. If they can’t get goals from guys like Nash or St Louis or more power play goals it’s going to be a really long series and a long summer waiting for the next season. I hate to say this but I think the Lightning have left the Rangers bloody. I’m hoping they can fight their way back from it but it’s going to take a huge effort to get past such large opponents.