Could Rangers turn to Mark Messier at head coach?
The New York Rangers surprised many by firing mostly successful head coach John Tortorella this week after the Blueshirts were routed in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Boston Bruins. New York had been the preseason East favorite.
So now the coaching search begins, and it’s certainly one of the best jobs in the league. Yes, there’s intense pressure but ownership will spend big to land talent. One interesting name has popped up as a possibility: Hall of Famer Mark Messier, who famously led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994, the team’s last championship.
Messier is the current Special Assistant to the President, a job that sounds like he’s being groomed to be a future general manager. However, he has no NHL coaching experience. But the Colorado Avalanche just hired one of their former greats, Patrick Roy, to be their head coach and he had no NHL coaching experience, either.
Three other candidates have been mentioned prominently: Alain Vigneault, Lindy Ruff and Marc Crawford.
Ruff might be the most obvious choice and has been available since being fired in February after 16 seasons coaching the Buffalo Sabres. A former Rangers defenseman, who had another former Ranger, James Patrick, as an assistant, Ruff is known as a players’ coach.
Vigneault was just fired by Vancouver after going 313-170-57 with two Presidents’ Trophies and one trip to the Stanley Cup finals in seven years. But he had a lot more skill in Vancouver than he’d have in New York. Vigneault was said to be on the Rangers’ radar, though not officially interviewed, when Bryan Trottier was hired in 2002.
Crawford was hired by Joe Nieuwendyk to replace Tippett in Dallas in 2009 and lasted two seasons. Won a Stanley Cup coaching Colorado in 1996.
Paul Maurice, a former coach of the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs who led the Canes to the 2002 Finals, is also available after reportedly turning down a contract extension with the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Coyotes coach Dave Tippett whom Rangers GM Glen Sather has interviewed for previous vacancies, is a possible candidate if he does not re-sign with Phoenix when his contract expires this summer. Sather said Wednesday he would like to conclude the coaching search by the time the NHL draft arrives on June 30.
NHL playoff odds: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers, Game 4
The Boston Bruins blew a 3-0 playoff series lead three years ago to the Philadelphia Flyers, so maybe the New York Rangers have a sliver of hope as they are down 3-0 heading into Game 4 on Thursday night. New York opened as a slight -113 favorite on WagerWeb.com. Check our current lines.
The Bruins took Game 4 2-1. Daniel Paille scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:31 left in the third period — after defenseman Johnny Boychuk got the Bruins even earlier in the frame — and Boston put the Rangers on the brink of elimination. The Bruins trailed 1-0 heading into the third, but Boychuk tied it with his fourth of the playoffs after he netted just one in 44 regular-season games. The Rangers hadn’t lost in regulation when leading after two periods since Feb. 4, 2010.
After scoring just one goal in 44 regular-season games, Boychuk is finding the twine in the playoffs with his rocket shot. After scoring the game-winner in Game 2, Boychuk tied the game at one 3:10 into the third period and now has two goals in as many games and four in the playoffs.
Only three NHL teams have rallied from an 0-3 hole to advance, with those 2010 Flyers as one. Boston also nearly blew a 3-1 series edge in the opening round this year against Toronto, before rallying from a three-goal deficit in the third period and capturing Game 7 in overtime.
Struggling Rangers center Brad Richards, recently relegated to the fourth line with his poor play, saw a paltry 8:10 of ice time, only 5:58 of which was at even strength. Richards was limited to a mere three shifts in the second period and two in the third. The 32-year-old veteran, who inked a nine-year, $60 million deal in July of 2011, has been held to one point this postseason.
The Rangers’ ineptitude on the power play continued with another futile effort Tuesday. After failing on both man-up opportunities in Game 3, the Rangers are now 2-for-38 — a dreadful 5.3 percent — in the playoffs and 0-for-10 this series. By contrast, the Bruins have had only one power play over the past two games.
The Rangers are 0-10 all-time in playoff series when trailing 3-0, and no team has ever overcome 2-0 deficits in two consecutive best-of-seven-series in the same playoff year. New York was down 2-0 in the first round against Washington.
WagerWeb.com trends: Bruins are 4-1 in their last 5 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game. Bruins are 4-1 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 2 goals or less in their previous game. Bruins are 4-1 in their last 5 games following a win. Rangers are 9-1 in their last 10 home games. Rangers are 4-1 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record. Over is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings. Bruins are 5-2 in the last 7 meetings. Bruins are 4-12 in the last 16 meetings in New York.
NHL playoff odds: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers, Game 3
It’s nothing short of a must-win game Tuesday night for the New York Rangers as they are down 2-0 with the Eastern Conference semifinals shifting to Madison Square Garden. New York did open as a -135 favorite on WagerWeb.com. Check our current lines.
Boston took Game 2 5-2 on Sunday. Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic scored in the final period after Johnny Boychuk broke a tie in the second and Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist gave up more than four goals for the first time in 152 games. The Rangers played their best period of the series in the second, but Marchand gave Boston a 4-2 lead just 26 seconds into the third. Boston never trailed as rookie Torey Krug scored the first goal before Rangers captain Ryan Callahan tied it. Gregory Campbell made it 2-1, and New York pulled even again on Rick Nash’s goal, his first of the playoffs after he led the Rangers with 21 in the regular season. The Rangers failed to cash in on all five man-up opportunities Sunday. The Rangers are now 0-for-8 on the power play this series and 2-for-36 this playoffs.
New York also lost the first two games of its first-round series in Washington, won the next two in New York before losing Game 5 on the road.
“I’m expecting a desperate team,” said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton. “They’re going to step up their game and we’re going to have to be a lot better, too. Going into their building, they’re traditionally a pretty strong team in that rink and it’s not an easy rink to play in, so we’re going to have to be better.”
The Bruins are 21-7 lifetime when leading a best-of-seven series 2-0, and they’re also 18-10 in Game 3s when leading by two games. The Rangers are 2-19 lifetime when trailing 0-2 in a best-of-seven series.
Injured Bruins defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden participated in the team’s practice Monday morning at TD Garden and both made the trip to New York. Bruins coach Claude Julien said Seidenberg (lower body) and Redden (undisclosed) are getting closer to returning, but the coach won’t know until game day whether one or both will be available for the Game 3 tilt at Madison Square Garden. The status of injured defenseman Andrew Ference (foot) doesn’t look nearly as promising. He hasn’t played since May 10 and was seen last week in a walking boot.
Lundqvist hurt his shoulder with 4:52 remaining in the third period of Game 2 after making a save on Boston Bruins winger Daniel Paille but will start.
WagerWeb.com trends: Rangers are 1-4 in their last 5 after allowing 5 goals or more in their previous game. Rangers are 1-5 in their last 6 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game. Over is 3-0-1 in the last 4 meetings. Home team is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings. Over is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings in New York. Bruins are 3-12 in the last 15 meetings in New York.
NHL playoff odds: New York Rangers at Boston Bruins, Game 1
After a miracle rally in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins have to put it behind them quickly as they open their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the New York Rangers on Thursday night, with Boston an opening -135 favorite on WagerWeb.com. Check our current lines.
Boston truly did the unthinkable on Monday, rallying from a three-goal deficit nearly midway through the third period and beat Toronto 5-4 in overtime. The Bruins still trailed by two with less than 90 seconds left in their season, but scored twice in a span of 31 seconds to tie it and then eliminated the Maple Leafs on Patrice Bergeron’s goal at 6:05 of overtime. Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots for Boston, which led the best-of-seven series 3-1 before the Maple Leafs won two in a row to force a seventh game. Rask did just enough to get the Bruins into the second round. He appeared in all seven games for Boston, going 4-3 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
The Bruins are the first team in NHL history to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period. Bergeron is the first player to score the tying goal with less than a minute in regulation and the game-winning goal either in regulation or overtime in Game 7 of a playoff series. The Bruins are the only team this season to score two goals in a game with an extra attacker on the ice in place of a pulled goalie. They did so in the regular season (coincidentally against the Rangers) and in this Game 7.
The Rangers also won a Game 7 on Monday but it was easy, 5-0 at Washington. Henrik Lundqvist had 35 saves in his second straight shutout. The last NHL goalie with shutouts in Games 6 and 7 of a series was Detroit’s Dominik Hasek in 2002 against Colorado. Lundqvist has enjoyed success against the Bruins in his career, posting a 21-7-2 record along with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. This season, he was 2-1-0 with a 2.93 GAA and a .913 save percentage against the Bruins.
These Original Six teams haven’t faced each other in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 1973. During that 40-year span, the Red Sox and Yankees, Patriots and Giants, and Celtics and Knicks have produced plenty of classic games. New York won two of the three regular-season meetings, but both teams came away from four points because Boston had the only regulation victory. They haven’t seen each other since Feb. 12.
WagerWeb.com trends: Rangers are 1-4 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game. Rangers are 1-5 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600. Bruins are 2-6 in their last 8 vs. Atlantic. Bruins are 1-5 in their last 6 games following a win. Under is 8-1-1 in the last 10 meetings in Boston. Rangers are 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Boston. Rangers are 7-2 in the last 9 meetings. Under is 14-5-2 in the last 21 meetings.
NHL playoff odds: Washington Capitals at NY Rangers, Game 4
It’s all but a must win on Wednesday night for the New York Rangers as a loss would send the Blueshirts back to Washington down 3-1 for a potential clincher. New York opened as a -140 favorite on WagerWeb.com. Check our current lines here.
The Rangers won Game 3 4-3. Derek Stepan and Arron Asham both scored tiebreaking goals in the third period for the Rangers. Stepan gave the Rangers the lead for good with 6:25 remaining when he deftly tipped in a pass in front from Rick Nash. Asham had put New York in front 3-2 at 2:53, but Jay Beagle got the Capitals even again 4:26 later. Derick Brassard had a goal and two assists for the Rangers, who managed only one goal in the first two losses in Washington and hadn’t scored since the first period of Game 1 — a stretch of 124 minutes, 6 seconds. Henrik Lundqvist was sharp in making 28 saves.
New York D Marc Staal returned after being sidelined since early March. The 26-year-old blue-liner had not played since taking a puck to the right eye in a game against the Flyers on March 5. Paired with defenseman Anton Stralman, Staal played 17:17 over 21 shifts in his first game back. It wasn’t much an ease-in for Staal, who was rocked along the end-boards by Washington’s Troy Brouwer early in the game.
“There was a lot of determination going into this game,” said Lundqvist.. “We knew we had to win this one. It was a must-win. We really stepped up as a group and they kept coming. They’re a good team and you have to respect that, but we scored some big goals tonight.”
Washington’s Braden Holtby countered with a 26-save effort. Alex Ovechkin, who had a point in each of the first two games of the series, was held off the score sheet Monday. The Capitals didn’t record a shot on goal on the power play in the final 1:54 of Game 3 against the Rangers.
New York’s Darroll Powe did not take part in practice Tuesday and there was no update on his condition after he sat out the second and third periods of Monday night’s win. Powe delivered a check on Washington’s Joel Ward less than halfway through the opening period on Monday, and collapsed to the ice afterwards, seemingly struck by Ward’s elbow. With Powe possibly sidelined for Game 4, a path could be cleared for Ryane Clowe’s return to the lineup? The hulking forward would not say if he planned on returning from his undisclosed injury Wednesday, one that has kept him out of the lineup for four games. But he did note that he took part in more contact and was involved in more battle drills than in prior days at Tuesday’s practice.
WagerWeb.com trends: Home team is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings. Under is 11-3-8 in the last 22 meetings. Under is 3-1-5 in the last 9 meetings in New York. Capitals are 1-4 in the last 5 meetings in New York. Rangers are 7-0 in their last 7 home games. Rangers are 6-2 in their last 8 games playing on 1 days rest.
NHL playoff odds: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals, Game 1
For about the first half of the NHL’s shortened regular season, the Washington Capitals were the NHL’s biggest disappointments. But the Caps came on like gangbusters in the second half, led by potential Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin. Now the Caps are series favorites against preseason Eastern Conference favorite the New York Rangers, and Washington opened as a -130 favorite for Thursday’s Game 1. Check our current lines.
Washington was 15-2-2 in its final 19 games to win the Southeast Division going away. Ovechkin led the NHL with 32 goals, including 19 in that season-ending stretch. Braden Holtby emerged as a solid No. 1 goaltender, and the return to form of defenseman Mike Green helped give the Capitals the NHL’s most dangerous power play (26.8 percent).
The Rangers also ended the season on a roll, going 10-3-1 in April to climb all the way to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. Henrik Lundqvist is a rock in goal, the top four on defense is as solid as anyone’s, even without injured Marc Staal, and the forward lines have sorted themselves into a working order. The unit of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin has been one of the hottest in the league.
Although Staal did not definitively rule himself out, he said he will “probably” not play in Game 1. He has been sidelined since being struck in the eye with a puck March 5. Staal continues to practice with the team in hopes of returning soon. Derek Dorsett hasn’t played since coming from Columbus in the Marian Gaborik trade because of a collarbone injury, but he should be available during the first round. For the second straight season, the Rangers finished in the bottom third of the NHL on the power play. This season, the Rangers finished No. 23 at 15.7 percent. But in April, the Rangers showed signs of life with the extra man, going 9-for-49 (18.4 percent) down the stretch.
The teams played a memorable second-round series last season; every game but the first was decided by one goal. The Rangers won twice in overtime before taking Game 7 at home, 2-1. If the teams go to a seventh game this time, the third-seeded Capitals will be at home.
This is the fourth time in the past five years the Rangers and Caps have met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Coaches, personnel and system structures have changed, but the enmity has not.
“It’s always a battle,” Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. “It seems like it usually goes the length or close to it. I think we match up against each other pretty evenly.”
The Rangers appear to have the edge in goal. Lundqvist was brilliant in the last month of the season. In his 14th consecutive start (one in which he undoubtedly lobbied to play), Lundqvist made 20 saves to record his second shutout of the season and 51st of his career (surpassing Eddie Giacomin as the Rangers’ all-time leader), a fine tune-up heading into Round 1 against the Capitals. Washington’s Holtby is no slouch. The 23-year-old netminder posted a 23-12-1 record this season, with a .920 save percentage, 2.58 goals-against average and four shutouts for the Caps, winning nine of his last 10 starts. He surrendered more than two goals only twice throughout the seven-game series against the Rangers last spring and now has a full two rounds of playoff hockey under his belt.
WagerWeb.com trends: Rangers are 4-0 in their last 4 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game. Rangers are 5-1 in their last 6 overall. Capitals are 7-1 in their last 8 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game. Capitals are 7-1 in their last 8 home games. Under is 10-3-8 in the last 21 meetings. Under is 18-6-2 in the last 26 meetings in Washington. Home team is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.
NHL odds: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
It’s a must win on Tuesday night for the Rangers as they try to hold off the Winnipeg Jets for the final playoff spot in the East. New York opened as a -135 favorite on WagerWeb.com against the Flyers, who are simply playing out the string. Check our current lines.
The Rangers have 48 points and hold down the No. 8 spot, two points ahead of No. 9 Winnipeg. The Blueshirts also have a game in hand on the Jets. New York has won two straight and won 1-0 at the Islanders on Saturday. Dan Girardi second goal of the season 3:11 into overtime to knock off the Islanders at fired-up Nassau Coliseum. Henrik Lundqvist, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goalie, finished with 29 saves for his first shutout of the season and 44th in the NHL. Girardi’s only other goal this season also was against the Islanders, 27 games ago on Feb. 14.
Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in the last 12 of 13 games played. During that span he has posted an 8-3-2 record with a 1.66 goals against average and .941 save percentage. “It’s no coincidence that we’re 5-1-1 (in their past seven) and Henrik has been on top of his game,” coach John Tortorella said. “He’s been really good.”
Because the standings are so tight, the Rangers have had to rely on Lundqvist more than they anticipated. Last season, he was afforded much more time — 20 games — to rest. Lundqvist has started all but five this season. . The 31 year-old now owns a 2.06 goals against average, which is seventh best in the NHL, and a .928 save percentage that ranks fourth. A year ago he owned a career-best 1.97 goals against average and a career-high .930 save percentage.
Injured Rangers forward Derek Dorsett skated Monday before the team’s practice, the first time he has skated since suffering a broken collarbone in March while playing for the Blue Jackets. Dorsett, acquired in the Marian Gaborik trade at the deadline April 3, is unlikely to return before the end of the regular season but will likely be available at some point during the playoffs.
The Flyers had lost four straight entering their game in Montreal on Monday night. Philly totaled just three goals in those defeats. The Flyers (17-21-3) haven’t missed the playoffs since 2006-07, but they’re sitting nine points behind the New York Rangers for the final Eastern Conference postseason spot. New York has won three of the four meetings this season. The teams last played March 26, a 5-2 Rangers win. Rick Nash scored twice, Derek Stepan had a goal and three assists, and New York extended won for the 11th time in the past 12 vs. Philly. New York has outscored Philadelphia 46-20 in their last 12 meetings.
WagerWeb.com trends: Rangers are 0-4 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record. Flyers are 5-2 in their last 7 games playing on 0 days rest. Flyers are 2-9 in their last 11 Tuesday games. Flyers are 0-4 in their last 4 vs. Atlantic. Rangers are 11-1 in the last 12 meetings. Rangers are 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Philadelphia. Under is 8-3 in the last 11 meetings in Philadelphia. Over is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.
NHL odds: Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Rangers
The New York Rangers opened the season as the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup betting favorites, so missing the playoffs would be a huge disappointment. The Blueshirts have no room for error, tied with the Islanders for the final two spots in the East and the Devils and Jets right behind that duo. New York is a slight WagerWeb.com favorite for Wednesday’s game against Toronto, the second of a home-and-home between the teams. Check our current game lines.
The Leafs have won two in a row and currently are No. 5 in the East. The beat the Rangers 4-3 on Monday. Phil Kessel scored twice, including the winner in the third period, and added an assist. The goal was Kessel’s first in 10 games; Kessel has scored 177 goals in his seven seasons in the NHL but he’s had very little success when facing Rangers goalie Lundqvist. Before Monday, Kessel had scored only three goals in 20 career games against “King Henrik” and two of those goals came in one game (Oct. 15, 2010).
Toronto remained fifth in the East but moved four points ahead of idle Ottawa with its fifth win in six games. The Leafs also lead ninth-place New Jersey by eight points as they look to cement their first playoff berth since 2003-04. Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury sustained Thursday against Philadelphia. Lupul had been the Leafs’ hottest player prior to his injury, registering eight goals and six assists during a seven-game points streak. ..
New York erased a 3-1 deficit with third-period goals from Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, who made it 3-3 at 9:00, converting a 2-on-1 break for his 14th of the season just as Toronto’s power play expired. Kessel put Toronto back ahead just 39 seconds later with his 12th of the season. Forward Rick Nash scored two goals and led all skaters with seven shots in 21:48 of ice time. Nash has a three-game goal streak (four goals), and 10 points — including seven goals — in his last eight games Nash leads the team with 17 goals and 35 points this season, and now has three two-goal games this season.
New York’s Lundqvist had allowed two or less goals in 10 consecutive starts prior to Monday’s game. It was the first time in 21 games that the Rangers surrendered four goals — and the first in his last 19 starts Lundqvist had allowed more than three goals in a game
This is the final meeting of the regular season. The teams hadn’t met before Monday since Jan. 26, when a four-point effort by the since-traded Marian Gaborik led the Rangers to a 5-2 win in New York. The Rangers have struggled with teams from north of the boarder, posting a 2-8-1 record against Canadian teams. They are winless in games in Canada, going 0-5-1.
WagerWeb.com trends: Maple Leafs are 4-0 in their last 4 games playing on 1 days rest. Maple Leafs are 5-1 in their last 6 overall. Rangers are 2-8 in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning record. Rangers are 0-5 in their last 5 vs. Northeast. Over is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings. Over is 16-5 in the last 21 meetings in New York. Road team is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings.