Tonight’s breakdown is courtesy of myself and The Suit. All in all, the Rangers outplayed the Maple Leafs for most of the contest, but a few defensive miscues and a subpar power play prevented the Rangers from running away with the win early in the contest. Instead they had to battle it out for the W in the third period.
On to the goals…
Leafs 1, Rangers 0
This goal was just a mess all around for the Rangers. First, Ryan McDonagh coughs up the puck thanks to a forecheck by Mikhail Grabovski. John Michael-Liles picked up the loose puck, and both McDonagh and Dan Girardi move up to block a shot attempt by Liles. Grabovski, who forced the turnover at the top of the circle, was left wide open on the other side of the net, right in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Grabovski just had to out wait the isolated Lundqvist, which isn’t hard for the skilled forward in that position. Just bad communication between McD and G.
Leafs 2, Rangers 0
The Rangers, showing more rust, took a bad too many men penalty. This time around, the Leafs worked the puck to the point to Liles, and Staal drifted way too far up, all the way to the face off dot. This left Michael Del Zotto alone in front to cover two Leafs. When the shot got through, MDZ couldn’t cover both, and the newly acquired James van Riemsdyk put the puck into the empty net. Many will put this on MDZ, but Staal drifted way too high on his coverage and Derek Stepan didn’t finish a check along the boards.
Rangers 1, Leafs 2
Staal started this with a nice outlet pass to Rick Nash on the breakout. Nash does what Nash does best, which is drive to the middle and create chances. Nash’s pass to Marian Gaborik deflects back to him, and Nash puts the puck on net. James Reimer makes the initial save, and the second save on Gaborik. But Bozak doesn’t pick up the trailer in Brad Richards, who puts the puck into the empty net. It’s amazing to watch how much Nash draws coverage. He’s going to get a lot of ghost assists this year.
Rangers 2, Leafs 2
This one was a beauty. Richie wins a board battle and makes a long diagonal breakout pass to Gabby on the weakside of the ice. Gabby feeds MDZ on the rush, who then feeds Staal for the put home. Great tic-tac-toe play. As an aggressive minded coach, Torts wants his defensemen joining the rush. This is a by-product of what happens when those rushes are actually executed.
Rangers 3, Leafs 2
This goal was the Rangers bread and butter from 2012. Nash caused a turnover on the forecheck. Eventually the Rangers win possession and kick the up boards to Staal. Marc then rips one from the point, which Gaborik tipped in for the GWG. Again, this was yet another display of what made the Rangers successful in 2012. In other words, please spare us the “Torts system is stifling” garbage.
Rangers 4, Leafs 2
The play started with another great forecheck by Brian Boyle and Taylor Pyatt in the Maple Leafs endzone. The puck gets worked up to MDZ at the point, who throws one off of Boyle’s ass and in. Good things happen when you forecheck and crash the net. Jerry Dineen (Rangers Video Coordinator) should save this one for the film room.
Rangers 5, Leafs 2
Rick Nash could have scored the empty net, but gave it to Gabby. That’s the story on this goal.
At the end of the second period, Torts was barking at Sully on the bench for reasons unknown. I’m going to make an assumption here and guess that Torts did the same to his players during the intermission. The Rangers came out like a bat out of hell in the third period and “stomped on some pucks.” Hopefully this is the turning of the tide.