What exactly is boring hockey? Because that’s what the Rangers have been playing, according to people everywhere. I’ve read it in the Canadian press. I’ve seen it on NBC. I’ve read it from the Caps and Devils writers. Devils fans have been saying the Rangers play the boring trap now, which is even more amusing.
And apparently that’s what we watched last night as the Rangers won 2-0 over the Devils. We had boring hockey. Sorry but I don’t agree.
I thought the game was interesting, a good pace and well-matched. Both teams were well matched in the first, the Devils dominated the second and the Rangers dominated the third. How is this different than many other games when you have two evenly matched teams? It isn’t.
I’ll admit that there were points where I was annoyed with the Rangers because the Devils kept pressing into the Rangers zone, mainly in the second period. But I wasn’t bored with what I was seeing. Maybe nervous, but certainly not bored.
It feels like many fans and commentators think goals equals excitement, which isn’t all that hockey is about. It’s also about goaltending, and we got quite a show between Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur last night (I can admit Brodeur played well and even had the play of the game). It’s about forechecking and defense too. Just because the puck doesn’t go in the net doesn’t mean you’re watching boring hockey.
And because people want more goals, they point to things the Rangers do to prevent them as a problem. I saw some talk on Twitter at least a week ago how shot blocking should be banned, which I think is one of the most ridiculous things ever proposed to “fix” the game. I think the shot blocking can be old school in the way the players are sacrificing their bodies (so long as they’re not taking themselves out of the play).
Where were these complaints during the regular season? The Rangers have been playing the same system all season, not just now. They’ve blocked shots and sacrificed their bodies all year. And they played the same aggressive forecheck all year we saw during the third period. They’re not defensive first, as some have labeled them. They’re just good at defense.
The goal scoring is down compared to the regular season, but isn’t that the way it always is in the postseason? Goaltenders stand on their heads and the defense clamp down. Players don’t get the same room they need to create their magic like they do during the regular season.
Some other thoughts from last night’s game:
- I keep hearing from Devils fans how Lundqvist is weak “high glove side.” That may have been true in the past, but it’s not so much any more. Zach Parise even told reporters that he’d like a copy of the book on how to solve Lundqvist. But also, what goaltender isn’t weaker high? The whole thing seems like a myth to me at this point.
- It feels like the Devils are targeting Dan Girardi. I don’t mean in a headshot kind of way. I mean in a do everything to try to stop him kind of way. It was especially true after he scored the goal last night. Good thing Girardi is made of steel.
- Is Ryan Callahan playing hurt? I don’t mean in the “everybody is hurting” way. I mean in a “was he hurt more than we thought against Ottawa” kind of way. I’ll have to watch more closely for real evidence.
- I’m in the same court as John Tortorella about the “being tired” analysis that’s been going around. But that doesn’t mean the Rangers haven’t looked a little fatigued at times. It played a bit of a role in the second period, but they found their legs for the third. Thankfully Lundqvist wasn’t tired.
- Brodeur and Lundqvist just elevate their games when they play each other. Even if the Rangers weren’t blocking about two dozen shots, it would be a goalie duel and low scoring affairs with those two in net. As someone who loves watching goaltenders, this is one of the most exciting things about this series to me.
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