New York Rangers

Even Vanek admits he let the Wild down


The Minnesota Wild signed Thomas Vanek to a lucrative deal with this in mind: they finally wanted to get over the hump against the Chicago Blackhawks. Vanek’s detractors would counter that he was the last guy who would accomplish such a task.

Unfortunately for the Wild, Vanek-haters seem to be correct, at least for one season. At least if you look at the results.

Even Vanek is disappointed with his play, as the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports.

“I knew I only needed one to get going and I didn’t get it. I let them down,” Vanek said. “Their scorers scored when they needed to with timely goals and I didn’t.”

The 31-year-old didn’t just fail to score timely goals. He didn’t find the net in garbage time or merely to give Minnesota a little “insurance” either. In 10 playoff games, Vanek failed to score a single goal, settling for four assists.

Now, even the best snipers – a group Vanek belongs to, or at least once did – can hit a wall during the precious few games that make up a postseason. The 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs provide plenty of examples, from Steven Stamkos to Rick Nash. Marian Hossa’s struggles to get a bounce even flew under the radar, as his only goal of this playoff run so far came on an empty-netter in Game 4.

The key difference between Vanek and those other forwards is that, frankly, it’s tougher to gauge the effort from Vanek.

It’s not just a matter of puck luck failing him. Vanek only generated 19 shots on goal in 10 playoff games, and as flimsy as plus/minus can be, seeing him go pointless with a -4 mark in the last three contests isn’t promising. Unlike Hossa, Vanek doesn’t exactly draw rave reviews for his defensive play either, so it’s easy to understand the negativity surrounding the situation. NHL snipers don’t tend to age like fine wine, after all.

The key will be for him to play his game, and a big part of that is unleashing his shot with aplomb. Merely looking at his shot totals in 2013-14 (248 in 78 games with three different teams) versus this past season (just 171 in 80 contests with Minnesota), it’s reasonable to wonder if this was just an off year. Perhaps his off-the-ice issues were simply too much to overcome?

Whether it comes from within or from a coach saying the right words (Mike Yeo or perhaps someone else?), Vanek needs to turn things around.

At least he realizes as much, though.

PHT Morning Skate: ‘Business as usual’ tonight for Bishop


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Ben Bishop will make starts on consecutive nights for the first time this season tonight as the Tampa Bay Lightning look to complete the sweep of their second round series with the Montreal Canadiens. Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter discuss the issues Bishop will face playing on back-to-back nights in the Florida heat.

With Patrick Kane scoring five goals through the first three games of the Blackhawks series against the Wild, a Wikipedia editor got a little creative with Minnesota’s Wikipedia page. (

Ducks Patrick Maroon draws inspiration from young Kings’ fan battling cancer. (Bar Down)

“I wanted to prove I don’t belong in the stands” – Caps’ forward Andre Burakovsky on his two-goal performance in Game 4. (

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones discuss what the Rangers need to do to address their scoring woes heading into Game 5.

Andre’s gigantic game: Caps push Rangers to the brink


Despite minuscule margins of error, the Washington Capitals now have a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers after a 2-1 win in Game 4.

Much like in Game 3, Braden Holtby was brilliant. This time around, the other Capitals hero was young gun Andre Burakovsky. He scored both of Washington’s goals, and each one was dazzling.

Click here for the first one and observe the game-winning beauty below:

Burakovsky scored his first two playoff goals in this game … and each one was artful.

Holtby’s highlight-reel moment won’t get buried too much, however, as his penalty-shot save on Carl Hagelin ranks as another masterpiece:

The Rangers and Capitals played another tight, close game, with New York carrying the first period, Washington turning it up a notch in the second and the third being pretty even.

Ultimately, the difference in this series has been a handful of Capitals forwards making huge plays (Alex Ovechkin’s beautiful goals, Burakovsky’s big night) and Holtby pulling off the rare feat of upstaging goaltending superstar Henrik Lundqvist.

To some, it might not seem fair that this series is 3-1, but the bottom line is that Washington managed that lead. The Rangers are just one loss from seeing their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season go down in flames against an all-too-familiar foe by an agonizingly small difference in bounces, breaks and big plays.

For a playoff overview and all tonight’s biggest stories, click here.

Video: Holtby spurns Hagelin on penalty shot


Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been the star of a series against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers so far, but Game 4 featured maybe his most brilliant moment.

Mike Green was forced to obstruct speedy Rangers winger Carl Hagelin, setting the stage for an almost-cinematic situation. The Rangers were down 2-1 in the third period, but Hagelin could tie it up on a penalty shot.

The result was dramatic, yet Holtby came through with a beautiful glove save:

Keep that one in mind. Chances are, Holtby’s agent will cue that clip up during his looming contract negotiatons …

Video: Brassard breaks Rangers’ lengthy drought

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Goals have been very hard to come by lately for both the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, so Derick Brassard’s 1-0 tally could be a big one in Game 3.

It was a beautiful play between Brassard, Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash, as you can see below:

If you feel like Brassard is the only Rangers player who’s scoring, you’re not totally outrageous. He has five of their 16 postseason goals, and has been the only one to find the net in some time:

The bright side for the Rangers: the Capitals haven’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard, either.