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Rangers head back home to battle the Lightning; Kreider doubtful

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-lightning-5-22

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a brief stop in Carolina that resulted in a 3-2 loss, the Rangers (5-3-0) look to get back to their winning ways when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-3-0) at Madison Square Garden.

In that loss to Carolina, Mats Zuccarello scored both Rangers goals, giving him four this season. Pavel Buchnevich recorded an assist in his first game back from back spasms, and Ryan McDonagh also tallied an assist, on a marvelous stretch pass, to extend his six game point streak. Mika Zibanajad’s assist kept him at a point-per-game pace through eight games (2-6-8).

The Lightning played last night in Newark, falling to the Devils by a score of 3-1. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed three goals on 20 shots and the team’s lone goal came from Tyler Johnson. Tampa Bay has had trouble with starting slow, and that happened again when they gave up two goals in the first period to New Jersey. Read the rest of this entry

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Rangers rally to beat the Lightning; Lundqvist makes 39 saves

Alexandra Russo

rangers celebrate a goal 4-5

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a playoff clinching 4-2 victory over the Blue Jackets Monday night, the Rangers faced off for the first time at home against Tampa since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Lightning have been playing without former Ranger, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, and top forward Steven Stamkos for a while, and the Rangers played without Ryan McDonagh. He is out indefinitely and will miss the rest of the regular season. In his absence, Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath saw ice time. Lindberg also replaced Hayes. They helped their team to an amazing come from behind 3-2 victory.

Tampa started out fast, as only 2:42 into the game, Namestnikov fed an open Andrej Sustr. He was wide in front of the net with absolutely no one on him. This is an example of the poor coverage the Rangers had to start out the game.

Shortly after, Tampa went on the power play. They had the worst power play in the League coming into this matchup, but they were able to convert on Brian Boyle’s deflection. Ondrej Palat took a shot that was saved by McIlrath’s skate. However, Palat got his own rebound, and Boyle’s stick deflected the shot past a misplaced Lundqvist for a two goal lead very early into the period.  Read the rest of this entry

Rangers season comes to a close with shutout defeat in Game 7

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs lightning 5-29

The Rangers lost a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden for the first time in history, coming just 20 minutes short of a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

For the first time in franchise history, the Rangers lost a Game 7 on home ice, getting shutout by the Tampa Bay Lightning as they continue their quest for the Stanley Cup, and the Rangers go home for the summer.

Prior to tonight, New York was 7-0 in Game 7s played at Madison Square Garden. They earned the right to play tonight’s game on home ice by winning the President’s Trophy in the regular season. But that effectively went to waste, as the Rangers lost three of four games on home ice, and were shut out in Game 5 and 7. They scored just four goals at the Garden in this series.

The loss also snapped a 10 game win streak at Madison Square Garden in elimination games for the Rangers, as well as a six game win streak in Game 7s. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers all set for a winner takes all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs lightning Game 6 faceoff 5-26

The Rangers and the Lightning will faceoff for one last time tonight at Madison Square Garden to decide who gets to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Following a valiant effort to avoid elimination yet again, the New York Rangers now have a chance to fight for a chance to return to the Stanley Cup Finals in front of their fans at Madison Square Garden. This crazy, unpredictable series will come to a close in the most exciting, nerve-wracking way in professional sports; Game 7.

If there is one thing this series has been, it is unpredictable. The Rangers opened with a dominating 2-1 win in Game 1, controlling the play through most of the 60 minutes. Then the Lightning outgunned the Rangers in a 6-2 Tampa win in Game 2, taking advantage of power play opportunities and mistakes. Game 3 was an offensive outburst, ending in a 6-5 Lightning win in overtime. Then the Rangers outgunned the Lightning 5-1 in Game 4 to tie the series. Tampa came back to the Garden and played very defensively, shutting out the Rangers in Game 5. And then the Rangers forced a deciding Game 7 with another offensive explosion on Tuesday.

As you can see, this series had absolutely no predictability. Nothing carried over from game to game, there hasn’t been one style of play, or one team scoring a lot of goals. Both teams have had their ups and downs, successes and failures, and that makes the buildup to tonight’s game even more unforeseeable. Read the rest of this entry

Zuccarello’s absence presents a big opportunity for youngsters

Bobby Bevilacqua

jesper fast goal celebration 2 5-20

Jesper Fast is one of the Rangers’ young players that have stepped up in the playoffs in an attempt to fill the void left by injured winger Mats Zuccarello. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Since Game 5 of the opening round against the Penguins, the Rangers have been without their top line winger Mats Zuccarello, out with a concussion after taking an errant puck to the side of the head. He was initially out “indefinitely,” but after skating with the team a few times, he was upgraded to “day-to-day” status.

Zuccarello’s absence immediately left a void in the Rangers lineup. He’s been one of the best possession players on the team throughout the season, and can always find the open man due to his vision on the ice and his fantastic passing skills. Zuccarello is a sparkplug, playing physical and aggressively despite his small stature.

When the Rangers found out that he would miss a significant amount of time, Vigneault worked on finding a player to replace Zuccarello on the top line. He initially turned to the veteran Martin St. Louis, but soon decided that it would be up to his young players to step up and start producing in a top-six forward role. Read the rest of this entry