Cullen: Rangers, Kings, Coyotes open with wins

Scott Cullen
4/29/2012 12:05:30 AM
Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
Text Size

The Rangers, Kings and Coyotes start off Round Two with wins.

Scott Cullen looks at three Game Ones and what could be coming next.

It's looking like New York Rangers rookie winger Chris Kreider could have a real impact on the playoffs, after a game in which he scored the winning goal and later added an assist in a 3-1 Game One win over Washington.

It was Kreider's second game-winning goal of the postseason and his role has been increasing. He played 18:21 in Game Seven against Ottawa, then 15:28 on Game One against Washington, his two highest time on ice totals of the playoffs and with Brandon Dubinsky out of the Rangers lineup, there should be every opportunity for Kreider to keep playing a significant role.

The Capitals and Rangers played the game to a virtual stalemate, recording a total of shots on goal between them (18-14 advantage for Washington).

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 17 of those 18 shots he faced for the win. In his last four games, Lundqvist has stopped 96 of 101 shots faced (.950 SV%).

Of all people to lead Game One in shots on goal, it was Rangers D Ryan McDonagh, who registered four of his team's 14 shots.

Rangers C Brad Richards took 24 of 50 faceoffs in the game. Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom, with 16, took the second most in Game One.

Even if it wasn't the prettiest of games, the Rangers don't need to worry about style points. They got a leg up in the series and might have even more reason for optimism that Kreider can be a valuable contributor going forward.

Enigmatic Kings winger Dustin Penner set up Los Angeles' first goal and banked home the empty-netter to clinch a 3-1 Game One victory in St. Louis. Skating on the second line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, Penner and his linemates were each plus-2 on the game, even though they didn't dominate the possession game (per www.timeonice.com).

The series was expected to bring a goaltending battle between Brian Elliott and Jonathan Quick and both goaltenders were as good as advertised.

Following a hard-fought competitive Game One, the most long-lasting effect on hte series could be an injury to D Alex Pietrangelo, who was decked from behind by Kings LW Dwight King late in the second period. Pietrangelo didn't play the last 17 minutes of the game, so if there is a chance that the Blues will miss their best defenceman for even one more game, that poses a serious problem for St. Louis.

Pietrangelo's absence is even more troublesome since Kevin Shattenkirk, whose ice time had been declining, finished Game One with an unpleasant minus-3 rating.

If, as expected, great goaltending is the standard in this series, then St. Louis will need to create more havoc in front of Quick in order to have a chance at scoring enough to win because the line between winning and losing is razor thin.

(and, from Friday night)

Martin Hanzal made the most of an offensive zone faceoff, beating Mike Fisher and then passing the puck past Predators captain Shea Weber to an open Ray Whitney in front of the net and Phoenix's leading scorer in the regular season gave the Coyotes their fourth overtime win of the playoffs, 4-3, despite being outshot 42-24.

Based on their reputations, few would have predicted that a Phoenix-Nashville matchup would result in a wide-open game with plenty of scoring chances, but that was the case in Game One and it shouldn't come as a complete shock since Nashville ranked 20th (30.8) and Phoenix ranked 28th (31.6) in shots allowed per game during the regular season.

Desperate to score the tying goal, Nashville outshot Phoenix 16-1 in the third period, tying the game on Martin Erat's goal with 4:42 remaining.

Coyotes RW Mikkel Boedker continued to make an offensive contribution, scoring his third goal of the playoffs. Boedker had 11 goals and 24 points in 82 regular season games, but has three goals and five points in seven playoff games.

While Boedker can easily be considered an unlikely contributor, D Rostislav Klesla is even more surprising. After scoring 13 points in 65 regular season games, Klesla, who had a goal and an assist in Game One, now has six points in seven postseason contests.

Not only are the Coyotes getting contributions from their unsung performers, they finally got RW Radim Vrbata on the board, with his first goal of the playoffs and he led Phoenix with five shots on goal in the game.

It's playing with fire to keep getting outshot by such wide margins and relying on G Mike Smith to bail them out, but that's been the Coyotes' approach in the playoffs and, so far, it's worked for them.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Chris Kreider, Michael Del Zotto (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)


(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Share This

Share This

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to Stumble UponAdd to Reddit
Print this Story

2014-15 NHL Preview

From The Hockey Insider

TSN's Bob McKenzie sets up the start of training camp, going one-on-one with the GMs from all seven Canadian teams.

WATCH: Bryan Murray - Ottawa Senators

WATCH: Dave Nonis - Toronto Maple Leafs

WATCH: Kevin Cheveldayoff - Winnipeg Jets

WATCH: Marc Bergevin - Montreal Canadiens

WATCH: Brad Treliving - Calgary Flames

WATCH: Craig MacTavish - Edmonton Oilers

WATCH: Jim Benning - Vancouver Canucks

TSN.ca previews what to expect out of the NHL's 30 teams as we count down to puck drop. Check daily for team previews and updates on each Canadian franchise leading up to Oct. 8.

Latest Preview: Buffalo Sabres

TSN TweetBox
© 2014
All rights reserved.
Bell Media Television