Tuesday, April 1, 2014
NY RANGER PLAYOFF CHANCES i am not a jinx
Let's get this out of the way now. I AM in fact JINXing the New York Rangers with this post. I know that, you know that. I am doing it on purpose. It is in fact an anti-JINX JINX. By even typing these very words I am taunting the hockey gods with each keystroke. It's April 1st as I type this but it is no joke, I am talking about the Rangers vs the Flyers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoff first round. Go ahead, curse at me now. It's ok, I'll understand that it's something you need to do. Go ahead, I'm waiting..........................Send your nastygrams to @hockeyangrybird or email to bird @ hockeybird.com.
I know what I'm doing, I'm a professional. Please, do not try this at home.
I'm assuming a 2-3 match-up with NYR having secured home ice. (Oh boy have I done it now!) The Flyers have enjoyed quite a turnaround since a rough beginning to the 2014 season. They ousted "Pete from Uniondale" Laviolette and promoted Craig Berube who was the consummate Flyer. He was hard nosed, big, aggressive, edgy, intimidating and could play. That is Flyer hockey. He has turned the team around into an impressive (3-2) metro Division finish. His captain is the first focus.
I really thought the Flyers went nuts when both Richards and Carter were essentially dumped by the Flyers. I still scratch my head as those guys HAVE won a cup. I distinctly remember writing here on Hockeybird that the Flyers would be a team to deal with as Richards and Carter were gonna be scary. I truly enjoyed the Dubinsky - Richards battles. Once gone it was no longer just goaltending that would limit the Bullies. Then of course this kid with a chip on his shoulder pops up and once again we have to deal with those of Broadstreet. As a fan of hockey, pure and simple, Claude Giroux is everything one could ask for in a hockey player. If he wasn't a Flyer I'd have one hell of a man crush on this guy. To make matters worse, if you look at him these days he reminds you of a certain number SIXTEEN who once danced around the Spectrum. Praise aside, Claude has yet to lead his team all the way and until he does I for one will not publicly praise him. Crap, I just did.
If Claude catches fire his passion will spread and the Flyers will be dangerous. He makes players around him better. His success is infectious within that Flyer locker room. Stop him and you beat the Flyers. If not......good luck. In my opinion, the way to stop him is to make him play run and gun. The Flyers can't match the speed and Claude is only one guy. Look, I know he's barely 5-10 and 175 lbs but when he started popping his 25 goals and 78 points the fly Guys started winning. Simple as that. That's my two cents on that.
C'mon.....the guy LOOKS like a Flyer even with his new short hair. I'm could be wrong but I think he's better the longer his hair is. Honestly you have to keep this guy quiet and that means walking away from his yapping. You can't let this guy get into your head........ignore him. Well, his mouth any way. His 20 goals and nearly 50 points speak for themselves. Another passion guy who needs to be kept quiet.
I watched this guy drop his gloves with Jerome Iginla in the 2004 Cup finals and I watched him carry the Cup around that rink in Tampa, 2004. He's still got game. His 18 goals does NOT tell the story in my opinion. Factor in a new team, injuries and not being played 1st line minutes and that's a lot to digest. His 18 goals so far tells me that he will score in the playoffs. He wins faceoffs and is a big body who knows the game. Be wary of this guy. 4th line my ass.
OK, they have some size. They have some vets. They have Kimmo. Hey, he's got 37 points.
As far as I'm concerned the Flyer defense is only off the hook if their goalie sucks. I'm not impressed nor intimidated. (In fairness, I'm not playing either) A decent fore check beats these guys in 60 minutes.
Well, one can..........ah, um.........
He won the rookie of the year in like......eight years ago. He doesn't suck. The 25 year old has 31 wins as of now. That's not freaking bad eh? But his GAA is 25th in the league and I'm not remembering his last big playoff accomplishment, can you? In other words, he's ripe for the Flyers Goalies Sucks syndrome. If I didn't dislike the Flyers it would be considered cruel to watch. Trust me on this.....the Flyers will NOT win the Cup this year and at some point, it will be the keepers fault.
A look at our boys......
There is a difference in his game this year. I noticed it when he was losing but it was a positive change. And, it's continued and improved as this season has progressed. Hank comes out to challenge shooters more than ever before. And, farther out too. I love it. It's the one area I can complain about and with all the records and statistics, it's hard to find fault. But I've always suggested that Hank went down too early and too often. He waits a bit longer now. He stays up on a few more shots than before. I think we might be seeing his best yet. I'm confident that Lundqvist can stymie Claude and his boys.
Can Ryan McDonough get any better? The guy has actually inserted himself into the Norris discussion. His 47 points are only eclipsed by his heads up plays in the D zone.To hear a national broadcast team give Montreal the business for the Scott Gomez trade yet again is just icing on the cake. I sure hope he and his agent took notes from the Cally debacle as I must see 27 in Ranger blue for years to come. His partner Girardi is no slouch himself. It's Mark Staal that I'm most grateful for. He's a 1-2 guy who currently plays 3 type minutes. Not bad eh? Diaz the trade deadline acquisition has impressed many with his shot, ability to play on the power play and the depth he adds. Hands down I like the NYR D in a seven game series vs the Bullies.
MSL & The Beast:
Here is the only question I have about this series. Will these guys play a big role on the score sheet? Despite the numbers there are few who skate with the same desire as Marty St. Louis. 26 gives his all as he always has. I'm not the only one who expects a bunch of goals from this guy once he gets back his mojo. The streaky Rick Nash has yet to leave his mark on a playoff series in a career that's not getting any younger. Now would be a good time for a hot streak Mr. Beast. If he does get hot, look out Flyer goalie.....
Number Twenty One:
Derek has to play like a number one center in the NHL. He is fer chrissakes. Stephan doesn't have first line center numbers this year and that's not good considering he held out for cash. That said, Derek can erase that ugliness with a solid playoff performance. Watch his face off numbers and his match up. If he can shut down Giroux and be involved in the Rangers offense it's a five game series.
ZuccaPrucha and the Mighty Mights:
OK, the Flyers are bigger and meaner than the Rangers. I get it. AV has improved the power play and it behooves the Flyers to stay out of the box. That means it behooves the Rangers to turn the other cheek and skate away from the normal playoff intimidation tactics invented in Philadelphia or so it seems. Secondary scoring for the Rangers is a must if they are to advance as I'm suggesting they will. Not only must the Rangers make the Flyers pay on the power play but they'll need to add a few timely 3rd and 4th line goals. If not it'll be a long and painful series.
In a nutshell what I'm saying here is two fold. A, I know full well I am tempting the wrath of the hockey gods by posting this. I am a professional of 16 years, I'm trained. Do not try this at home.
And Three, the Rangers will defeat the Flyers in six games (yes they win it on the road) in the first round of this years playoffs. Please send hate mail here hate @ hockeybird.com
So, that's a really long winded, bloviated (my word) way of suggesting that your New York Rangers can and should beat the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs this year.