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Rangers need stronger effort in Game 2; Vigneault sets the tone for the series

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs capitals 4-30

The Rangers and Capitals will play Game 2 in a matinee matchup at the Garden, with New York looking to even the series before heading to Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a shocking 2-1 loss in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Capitals, the Rangers have regrouped and look to put that game behind them in today’s matinee Game 2 at Madison Square Garden.

Friday saw the team have a full practice, as well as a meeting with reporters. Most of the players had the same message; forget about Game 1 and worry about the game at hand. Vigneault seemed irate following the loss, and it carried over into yesterday’s press conference as well. This team probably got a stern talking to, and they’ll likely come out blazing today.

Vigneault has also avoided directly talking about the hit from behind, but he did say something that conveys his feelings about the hit, as well as how the rest of the series may go.

“The standards have been set for what’s allowed as far as hitting from behind,” Vigneault said. Ovechkin on Hickey, [Thurdsay] night on Boyle. We know what the standards are, play up to those standards.”

Wow. Vigneault’s not normally the type of coach to have that type of reaction, but it’s easy to understand his point of view. The star power of the league tends to get a bit more leniency when it comes to calls, and that is the case with Ovechkin’s aggressiveness. In their series against the Islanders, there was a lot of hard hitting, and a few boardings that went uncalled. Vigneault realizes that, and realizes how Washington is going to play. When the Capitals push, the Rangers will push back. This could get chippy.

Vigneault did not use that as an excuse for why the Rangers lost, citing the fact that the Rangers stopped playing on that final hit, and a subpar defensive effort against their top line of Ovechkin, Ward and Backstrom.

Ovechkin really dominated on Thursday night in all facets of the game. He was a +15 in shot attempts, had eight separate scoring chances, attempted 11 even strength shots, and was over 71% in possession in the first two periods. Guys like McDonagh and Girardi did not do their job, and that has to change for today’s game, otherwise Ovechkin will just run rampant again.

rick nash and ovechkin 4-30

Alex Ovechkin dominated the Rangers’ star players like Rick Nash, something that Vigneault’s squad will need to control. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Capitals’ top line scored both goals in Game 1, Ovechkin’s on the power play and Joel Ward with the dagger at even strength. That’s been the case for most of the season, and Vigneault needs to get his top defenders performing at their best against Barry Trotz’s top line.

This morning, the Rangers recalled forward Ryan Bourque from the Hartford Wolf Pack following their Game 5 victory on Friday, sending them to the second round of the playoffs. With Zuccarello out, Vigneault wants at least one spare forward on the team.

Bourque made his NHL debut on April 9th in a 3-0 loss to Ottawa, playing really well on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Tanner Glass. He was defensively responsible, won puck battles along the boards, and generated some offensive chances. The consensus amongst both Hartford’s management and Rangers’ management was that Ray Bourque was the best choice for a callup, and there’s a chance that he could come into the lineup for James Sheppard.

ryan bourque skating 4-9

Ryan Bourque, who made his NHL debut on April 9th, was recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack today as a spare forward, but could potentially crack the lineup in an attempt to mix things up. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Rick Nash really needs to start scoring goals. While a lot of the defensive effort has been maintaining him, Nash hasn’t had many quality scoring chances in the six playoff games for the Rangers so far. His one goal was practically meaningless, coming at the end of a 4-3 loss to the Penguins. A lot of his shots are coming from the perimeter or along the boards, and he hasn’t been able to crash the net as effectively. New York has not scored more than three goals in a game in the postseason, and they’ll need guys like Rick Nash to step up and start providing the offense that they desperately need.

The key for the Rangers has to be traffic in front of the net. Life was too easy for Braden Holtby in Game 1. The Caps kept the Rangers’ chances to the perimeter, limiting the quality chances they had. Holtby made way too many unscreened glove saves, and guys like Chris Kreider and Rick Nash need to make things more difficult for Holtby.

No lineup changes have been announced or confirmed, but there is a chance that Ryan Bourque gets a shot in the lineup in an attempt to shake things up a bit. Dan Boyle said he was okay following Game 1, but was dazed after the hit. His status is unknown.

The Rangers and the Capitals will faceoff at Madison Square Garden at 12:30 PM. The game will be broadcasted on NBC.

EXPECTED LINEUP (Not Confirmed)

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-James Sheppard

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on May 2, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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