Saturday, April 19, 2014
Blueshirts buy into Game 1 blueprint
By Katie Strang
NEW YORK -- With the Philadelphia Flyers sorting out their goaltending situation -- starter Steve Mason declared himself out for Game 2 on Sunday (click here for the full story) -- the New York Rangers have paid little attention to what is happening on the other side of the series.
Regardless of which goaltender is in net each game -- Mason or Ray Emery, the Rangers feel no need to deviate from the plan that propelled them to a 4-1 win against the Flyers in Game 1 on Thursday night.
They have a blueprint moving forward, and they plan to stick with that as much as possible.
“We know our game plan works if we all buy into it,” said top-line winger Rick Nash.
Nash helped spark that effort against Emery Thursday night with a team-high seven shots on goal against the Flyers backup. He picked up one assist by game’s end and said he hopes to drive the net even harder in Game 2.
“We have the same game plan. To get traffic, try to shoot from all angles. No matter what goalie you’re playing, you’re going to have to out-work him to score,” Nash said.
By comparison, the Flyers’ top line struggled to create chances, with both captain Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek failing to register a shot on goal.
The team had a decent start against the Rangers in hostile territory at Madison Square Garden, but the forecheck faltered and the Flyers ended up chasing play all night.
“In my mind, we didn’t play Flyers hockey,” said veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
So what is that exactly?
“It’s more skating and hitting,” he said. “We’ve got to forecheck really hard.”
Look for the Flyers to be more aggressive in that facet of their game on Sunday, when they aim to even the series 1-1 before the best-of-seven set shifts back to Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, the Rangers will look to make some small adjustments as well.
“Five-on-five there were a couple of areas as far as getting more situations in front of the net,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said when asked where he’d like to see his team improve.
Indeed, if there was any area in which the Rangers struggled, it was the prolonged stretches in which they were kept to the perimeter.
That’s not ideal for the type of pressure they’d like to create, obviously.
Instead, the Rangers aim to attack the middle of the ice and wreak havoc in front of Emery down low.
“If that’s not where we are, that’s where we need to get,” said veteran center Brad Richards, who finished Thursday’s game with a goal and two assists.
The Rangers sealed the game with a pair of power-play goals on Thursday, but Richards admitted it could’ve gone the other way had the team not killed off a huge penalty at the beginning of the third period.
Richards said the team expects much more from the Flyers on Sunday. And the Rangers will be ready.
“This is where we have to realize the level is going to go way higher and we can’t get caught resting on Game 1,” Richards said. “It’s a whole new game. It’s going to be a whole new speed, intensity level and we’ve got to rise to that.”