Sunday, 6 May 2007

Crunch Time

Game Six of the Barney Rubble Hairpieces and New York Rangers goes today from Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Rangers won both games in New York City during Games Three and Four by the same scores of 2-1. The only difference is that Michael Rozsival scored in double overtime in Game Three while the Rangers closed out Game Four in regulation time. With Game Six being played on MSG ice, the Hairpieces had better come out ready to play. They haven't played very well in NYC, and that has to change if the Hairpieces want to play for the Stanley Cup. The Ottawa Senators await the winner of this series, and they have yet to show any let up in their quest for the Silver Chalice.

Since the last four games have been decided by one goal, both teams having gone 2-2 in those games, the Hairpieces need to come out and get some bodies in front of Henrik Lundqvist. It worked for Anaheim against Luongo and Vancouver; it is working for Detroit against Nabokov and San Jose; it worked for Ottawa against Brodeur and New Jersey. Seeing the puck makes it way easier to make a save. I'm not saying that the Hairpieces should abandon their buzzing around the net, but Lundqvist hasn't had much in the way of any sort of screen. When Drury has gone to the net, Lundqvist has given up some goals. Start sending guys like Kotalik in there too.

The Hairpieces have clearly dominated the Rangers in scoring chances during this series. But they were eight seconds away from being down three games to two in this series if it weren't for some Drury magic. The Hairpieces have a good defensive group, and have protected Miller adequately, but they are still being burned by soft players like Michael Nylander and Jaromir Jagr. Buffalo has got to take the body hard along the boards in this series to nullify the Rangers' attack. Guys like Brendan Shanahan and Sean Avery thrive on the physicality, but Jagr and Nylander do not. They tend to fade into the background when roughed up. If the Hairpieces want to get set for Ottawa, they had better learn to throw a few teeth-rattling checks.

Lastly, the Barney Rubble Hairpieces need another solid effort from Ryan Miller. Miller is sporting a 1.88 GAA in these playoffs, and has looked impressive. His .933 save percentage is also very good. Miller doesn't have to be spectacular in Game Six. He just needs to play as well as his stats say. That means he can't give up any soft goals. Those are momentum killers, and when playing on the road, momentum can mean everything to the road team. As long as Miller plays up to his statistical image, the Hairpieces should be favoured to win this game.

Why am I so focussed on the Barney Rubble Hairpieces? Well, winning the President's Trophy is great, but this might be the last shot at the Stanley Cup this group has together. Chris Drury and Daniel Briere are both slated to hit the free agent market this off-season, and it appears Buffalo will only be able to keep one due to the salaries they may fetch. The scribes who follow the Los Angeles Kings have hinted that they will be active in pursuing Drury, a California native, in coming home. Drury lives in Manhattan Beach and is a neighbour of current King Rob Blake. Los Angeles could be a great place for Drury to play. And if the Hairpieces lose a guy like Drury, they will lose a huge piece of their success this season.

Until next time, keep your stick on the ice!

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