PREVIEW: It’s the Stanley Cup Finals and LA has the privilege of hosting games 1-2 against the defending cup champions, the Bathgate Rangers. The Rangers have the pedigree, but the Great Danes have been on a roll so far in the playoffs. After missing the playoffs the three previous seasons, the Danes are just happy to be here but when you get here you want to take advantage of it – why not us?
GAME #1:




Bathgate takes the play to LA with 3 early scoring chances, but the Danes get their first chance off the rush and Nikolaj Ehlers does not miss and LA takes the lead 4:31 into the game. Tavares then takes a hooking penalty at 6:28 and the Danes go on the power play – 3 shots in the first minute, then Ehlers gets another chance, but LA fails to convert. At 15:40, it’s another hooking penalty on Bathgate, this time Provorov. One chance from Darnell Nurse and that’s it, but Boeser has a wrap-around chance as Provorov exits the box – save Nedeljkovic (we’ll call him Ned from now on). Period one ends tied at 1, with each team having 14 SOG.

In the 2nd, Bathgate once again gets off to a fast start, not lots of shots but LA does not register a shot for 7 minutes. 10 minutes in, shots are 6-1 Bathgate. A minute later though, Roope Hintz beats Ned to give LA a 2-0 lead. The rest of the period is played evenly with not as many shots and the Danes are perfectly content with that and take the 2-goal lead into the 3rd.

In the third, LA cannot stay out of the box, so it’s up to the PK unit to protect the lead. Girard goes off for elbowing at 4:16, and it’s a Ranger barrage in the first minute of the power play – 4 SOG and another 3 blocked, but they cannot convert and LA’s PK is effective the 2nd minute of the PP. But as soon as the PK ends, Barkov is called for checking from behind, and the Rangers are right back on the power play. LA blocks 4 shots in a row and Varlamov makes a save, a final clear and LA survives and kills off the 2nd straight PP. But 50 seconds after that kill, Heiskanen is sent off for holding. It’s 3 clears for LA followed by a blocked shot, but Panarin finally beats Varlamov on a wrap-around for the PPG and it’s now a one-goal game with 9 minutes to go. With all the penalties, Bathgate has a 10-1 shot and 6-0 chance advantage over those first 11 minutes of the period.

LA still can’t get any offense going, but at least things have settled down, at least they had until Tomas Hertl pounded a long slap shot past Varlamov – goal and we are deadlocked at 2 with 4:29 left. LA does get one last chance by Scheifele with 36 seconds left, but he misses wide, and we end period 3 tied at 2-2. A rough period as Bathgate overwhelmed LA, so the Danes look forward to intermission to regroup.

In overtime, it’s an early chance for the Rangers – Pastrnak to Tavares to Panarin and back to Pastrnak – open net, SCORES. Game over 1:09 into overtime, and the Rangers take game 1 by a 3-2 score.

Bathgate outshoots LA 40-26 and it seems that their playoff experience took over as they dominated for stretches of every period. The Danes never trailed until it was over, but could not hold off the Rangers.

The three stars were all Rangers – Panarin 1G-1A, Hertl 1G, and Pastrnak the OT winner.

GAME #2:




Territorially, it’s a better start for LA, outshooting the Rangers 4-0 in the first 5 minutes before Buchnevich is sent to the box for tripping. The Danes get back-to-back chances on wraparounds by Scheifele and Hintz, but Ned stops them both and Bathgate kills off the penalty. Then LA’s 4th line comes through, as Darnell Nurse scores at 11:23 from Gourde and Jost and LA is up 1-0. Brodin takes an interference penalty a minute later, but it’s a good PK for LA, and then Ryan Strome is sent off for cross-checking for the Rangers. 4 shots on the power play, but LA cannot convert again. But they keep the momentum from the power play, and David Krejci whistles a slaphot past Ned that he never saw. So the first period ends with LA up 2-0 and outshooting Bathgate 19-7.

One minute into the 2nd period, Roope Hintz is free on a breakaway, but Ned makes the save – 5th chance of the game so far for Hintz but nothing to show for it. LA is outshooting Bathgate 6-1 in the period when Stephenson is called for checking from behind, and Tomas Hertl makes LA pay as he beats Varlamov to make it a one-goal game at 7:57. But Ned loses his focus and gives up two quick goals 16 seconds apart at 9:03 and 9:19. Ned got a piece of Boeser’s slapshot but it goes in, and then Ryan Pulock’s point shot gets by him. So all of sudden, the Danes have a 4-1 lead. But the 3-goal cushion does not last long, as Jared McCann’s slapshot gets by Varlamov and it’s 4-2 at the 11:38 mark of the 2nd period. The Danes settle things down after that and period 2 ends as game 1 did with LA up by two. Only 2 chances in the period for the Rangers but they both went in, while Ned gave up the 2 goals 16 seconds apart. How will the goalies hold up in the 3rd?

The Danes do open the 3rd with a minute of carryover power play time, but once again LA does nothing, now 0-3 on the power play. 5 minutes into the 3rd, the Rangers get an odd-man rush and it’s Pastrnak – but Varlamov makes the big save. After that, LA has a couple of back-to-back chances that they can’t convert, and John Tavares responds with a goal with 7 minutes left to make it a nail-biter at 4-3. After that Bathgate has a pair of chances, the second from Donskoi that Varlamov stops with 5:47 left.

The Danes cling to the one-goal lead as time winds down under 2 minutes. Before we hit the one-minute mark, LA has a couple of chances, a Stephenson shot was blocked and Barkov’s chance with 1:05 left was stopped by Ned.

– Carlo gets a scoring chance, saved and frozen by Varlamov with 50 seconds left.
– Barkov wins the draw, clears to neutral zone, Ritchie SOG – save/frozen with 40 seconds left
– Barkov kicked out of the circle, Scheifele wins the draw, steal, Pastrnak shot, save/frozen with 27.6 seconds left.
– Giroux loses the draw, Ritchie shot is blocked, Donskoi with a scoring chance – blocked and LA clears with 17 ticks left, Pastrnak’s shot is saved with 6.5 seconds left. Giroux loses another draw but time expires, and a sigh of relief as the Danes hold on for the 4-3 win to even the series.

Even though the Danes nearly gave up a 4-1 lead, it was a better game 2 for them as they outshoot the Rangers 45-26 and win 67% of the faceoffs. This time the stars are from LA – Boeser 1G-1A, Krejci 1G, Pulock 1G.

 SUMMARY: The Rangers get the split on the road. Two one goal games, so perhaps we’re in for a long series, but you never know. From the LA side, zero points in the 2 games from their #1 line, so time for Barkov and company to step up. And special teams were a problem, with the Rangers 2-5 on the PP and the Danes 0-5. Neither one of these stats is a recipe for winning, so that’s going to be a focus as the series shifts to the round garden.

Bill – coa file for games 3-4 will be coming.

PREVIEW: Madison Round Garden and last year’s Stanley Cup banner hanging proudly from the rafters. Great incentive for the Rangers players both old and new. And they come home to their amazing fans after gaining a split in LA LA Land! No easy feat. Neither of these teams like to lose at home. LA only lost 8 home games while the Rangers only lost 4 (neither team could match the 1 home loss of the Bandits – but they did suffer an OT loss to the Rangers in the postseason). And with the game 1 victory for the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals, LA finally suffered a home defeat. The Rangers come into game 3 with a 5-0 record at home – and oddly those are the games that Alexander Georgiev started! And the Rangers plan to stick to that formula, AG for home games, NED for the road.

Opening round started just like the Conference finals with the Rangers pulling out an OT win in game one, but then dropping game 2, by one goal, for the split. LA is coming alive!! LA did own the season series 3-1 with a scoring advantage of 13-12 in those 4 games. These teams keep it close. In the Rangers previous 13 games, 7 were won by 1 goal (2 OT), 2 by shutouts, and 3 of the 4 losses were by 1 goal! LA won 3 of the 4 games vs. Alamo by 1 goal, the other was a big shutout. Against Toledo, they won all their games by more than 1 goal, the their 1 loss was by 1 goal. So the Great Danes are great!

GAME #3: 




Game 3 features an interesting goalie matchup – Igor Shesterkin vs. Alexander Georgiev (hmmm). On paper it looks like Igor should have the advantage. Regular season 2.37 GAA with a .917 save % and he was 21-10-0-5. Pretty decent numbers for his 1st real season! But the underrated Georgiev seemingly played way over his head with a 17-3-0-4 record and a 2.65 GAA and a nice .918 save %. In fact, as the season was winding down, he was picking up more and more games – go figure, he got hot and has remained hot in the playoffs winning (as noted above) all his starts at home so far (5-0).

Can’t complain about the start to this, the crowd and team are amped up and to provie it Hertl wins the opening faceoff, takes it into the LA zone, flips it to Pionk, back to Hertl – slapper and high right over Shesterkin’s glove and to the back of the net. Goal 7 for Hertl and 19 seconds into the game and it’s 1-0 Bathgate! Couple of minutes later Igor makes a nice save on a ZBad scoring chance. Then finally (4 ½ gone by) LA gets the big chance. Kampfer knocks Hertl hard and down, Nylander controls the puck in a 2 on 1 rush. To Barkov, back to Nylander – shoots – denied! And the Rangers clear it. And then Stephenson is called for slashing and the Rangers get the games 1st PP. PP lasts 13 seconds as Pastrnak gains control after Hertl wins the draw, he sends it to Oleksiak who shoots and Hertl deftly redirects it into the net for his 2nd goal of the game (PP) and his 8th of the playoffs and a 2-0 Rangers lead with only 5:24 gone in the 1st. Things are really looking good!! WRONG. All of a sudden the Great Danes wake up. Rangers offense will cease for the rest of the period and they will amass but 4 SOG for the period (and 2 already have gone in). And LA – well, awake they do. First Pionk goes off for hooking at 6:55 – but the Danes still can’t get a PP goal, but just after Pionk returns and with the play still in the Rangers zone from the PP Ehlers works the puck to Krejci – he’s trying to make it happen, he shoots and scores, oh it was a nifty shot – his 3rd goal of the playoffs and it cuts the score to 2-1 Rangers. Then there is an 8 minute break (in the scoring) but not the action as LA just keeps coming. After a Georgiev save Stephenson wins the faceoff, Hintz controls it, passes to Boeser (already with an assist) at the point – slaps it toward the net – GOAL (his 6th) as he flies it over Georgiev’s glove to tie the game. And it’s now 2-2 and that’s how the period ends. Rangers owned 5 minutes, LA owned 15 and it’s a draw but the momentum is with LA as the intermission starts.

LA skates back on the ice with a mountain of energy and it quickly turns into a lead. Rangers win the opening faceoff and end up clearing the puck from their end all the way to LA LA land and their Scheifele takes over. He sends it up to Barkov who misses a wrister wide right. He regains the puck – OH, Nylander just got leveled (clean hit – oh it was a dandy), but Barkov maintains control of the puck and flicks it right past Georgiev for a goal (5) and the Great Danes have taken the lead 3-2 with their 3rd straight goal. Can this mountain of momentum be taken down? Apparently not. Pelech gets whistled for charging at 3:11 and then Boeser gets 2 for roughing at 6:14 and the Rangers with two PP opportunities are stifled by the high octane LA skaters. And then after Donskoi has a SC and is denied by Shesterkin, Pulock in a struggle with Ritchie gains control of the puck and outs it. Heiskanen takes it over the Rangers blue line – he sees Barkov at the left point, directs it to him, he fires a wrist shot and blam, beats Georgiev glove side and it’s 4-2 LA with Barkov’s 6th goal (and 2nd of the game and period). But this is the Stanley Cup finals and just as the Great Danes went from the bottom to the top in period one, the Rangers find a way to return – and it was a delayed penalty that got them going. With just over 7 ½ minutes left in the 2nd, Carlo blocks a Pelech shot, but LA controls it. But Gourde is separated from the puck at the blue line by Lee. New skaters come on, with Lee taking it through the middle and dumping it in. Strome gets it – holding – delayed penalty – Strome shoots, Lee redirects, or that was a thing of beauty and it goes by Shesterkin into the back of the net and it’s now 4-3 LA. For Lee, his 2nd goal (and he almost got scratched for this game) and the Rangers are right back in it. Kampfer was the holder and he won’t sit in the box. Spark ignited, Rangers look more active (actually they’ve been working hard to get back in it) and a minute later it pays off when Hertl passes to Donskoi just across the line and he shoots and its in for a GOAL and a 4-4 tie! For Donskoi – goal #4. Rest of the period – no more goals. But here’s the turnaround. Bathgate fires 17 SOG against Shesterkin – he stops 15, while LA was held to 5 that got to Georgiev, he only stopped 3.

40 minutes of play – and we’re tied. Stanley Cup finals, 3rd period, tie game – NO PENALTIES! Plenty of hits, but all clean (at least that’s how they were called). But the Rangers keep attacking, they don’t want to lose at home. 4 ½ minutes in Sanheim dives and blocks a Girard shot, Rangers gain control, new line, Panarin carries it in, drops it to MacDonald, back over to Panarin, there’s Pastrnak, sldes it over, shoots – GOAL! His 4th and the Rangers regain the lead making it 5-4. So after 4 straight LA goals to build a nice lead, the Rangers come back for 3 to regain it – can they hold it (or build it up bigger)? 15 minutes is a long time! LA proves that immediately as they take the next face off into the Rangers end with Nylander, Scheifele and Barkov mounting an attack – Barkov shoots, but misses left. Then things go back and forth for about 5 minutes with the Rangers getting 3 SC that were squashed and LA getting 1. But then the Rangers clear their end and move it all the way to the Great Danes zone, with Barkov picks it up, circles behind his goal and gets a full head of steam. He dumps it into the Rangers far corner, Nylander wins the battle along the boards and passes to Barkov, over to Scheifele, and he gets it right back to Barkov who has cleared, he shoots and Georgiev didn’t have the time to move back and it’s another Barkov GOAL – HAT TRICK – Tie game 5-5 and goal 7 for Barkov. And with 10 minutes left in the 3rd it’s all knotted at 5-5. This game might be a close one, but it won’t be low scoring! But the 10 minutes tick away, and tick away, Rangers get 5 more scoring chances but the LA defense and Shesterkin blank them. LA gets two scoring chances and some shots, but Georgiev remembers to not let anything go in. So after 3 periods it’s tied 5-5 and we go to sudden death OT!

OT starts with the Rangers still controlling play and in the opening minute they fire off 3 shots, 1 save, 2 blocks – all bad angles. Then with a minue gone, the Great Danes, after a nice Heskanen hit on Panarin, skate it up ice with Boeser leading the charge. He fires it around the boards where Stephenson wins the race – he moves the puck to Pulock, to Hintz, to Stephenson – shoots! Pastrnak gets in the way to thwart the scoring chance. As the Rangers work to move it out, Hintz steals it, Boeser has control in the Ranger zone, over to Stephenson for the one-time (another scoring chance) – Georgiev saw it coming and hangs onto it for the save. 2 ½ minutes it the Rangers had it, lost it and then regained it at center ice with Provorov skating it back to regroup. He passes up ice to McCann who walks it over the line, over to a flying in Pionk, back to McCann who slides it to Strome, who shoots – GOAL!!!!!! Stick side high gets it done, and wins the game 6-5 in OT.

Oh man – another 1 goal win, another OT win (5thin the playoffs and 2nd in this series) and a nice 2-1 lead. Teams need a day off…..

Some stats: SOG 36-24 for Rangers. Rangers turned around the faceoff situation winning 61% in this game! 54 SCORING CHANCES (34 for Bathgate, 20 for LA)!! LA – Blanked again on 2 PPs.
#1 – LA: Barkov with his hat trick. #2 – BGR: Hertl with 2 goals and an assist; #3 – BGR: Donskoi a goal and an assist

GAME #4:




GAME 4 – Bathgate with the 2-1 edge and this game is big, either it goes back to LA tied or with the Rangers in a nice 3-1 comfort spot. Georgiev (though he gave up 5 goals in game 3) is back in the net and Varlamov returns for LA!

To say this was a repeat would be wrong, but it started that way. Right off the opening faceoff, Hertl wins it, to Donskoi, to Pionk and then to Donskoi – shoots GOAL! His 5th and it’s 1-0 Rangers 25 seconds into the game! 6 minutes later the Rangers give LA a break with Pastrnak going off for high sticking. But the Rangers kill another PP chance. 4 scoring changes, 3 saves, one block, but no goal. Rangers back at full strength and they take control for a bit – a good bit and with 10 to go they work it into the LA end. Buchnevich really working hard in the LA end – oh, he sees Zibanejad, gets him the puck, he finds an opening and threads it into the goal for his 4th GOAL and it’s 2-0 Rangers with 9:15 to go in the 1st. We were here before, but this time the Rangers don’t let up and 5 ½ minutes later Ritchie, who’s been a hitter and digger benefits from a great setup for Hertl and Donskoi to score on a one-timer with 3:35 left in the 1st. It’s his 2nd of the playoffs and now it’s a big 3-0 Rangers lead. Crowd is really worked up now. Their noise may reshape Madison Round Garden – it’s squaring up under the noise! BUT!!!! Rangers feel like a gift is in order and it comes in the form of a Hertl interence call with 51 seconds left in the period. PK time – but no, the Danes dig deep and finally find a way to solve the PK of the Rangers. Faceoff in the Rangers end, less than a minute. Barkov wins the faceoff, Hintz get the puck – shoots – GOAL – his 7th and as the period ends, LA has scored (and on a PP) to cut the Rangers lead to 3-1 and take momentum into the locker room.

So period 2 starts and less than 2 minutes in, Tavares gets called for roughing. Another chance for LA to cut into the lead. But they can’t do it. 2 missed shots, 2 blocked shots but then as the penalty is about to expire, Ehlers goes for the wraparound – what a save by Georgiev (and he holds on). We reach the next TV Timeout, the girls clear the ice, and it’s back to hockey Rangers still up 3-1, but LA looks desparate (I mean determined). Rangers win the faceoff but after Panarin misses wide, LA gains the puck, Scheifele dumps it to the corner, Nylander gets it, to Barkov, slap shot – GOAL (his 8th) – and now it’s a 1 goal game. Man, 3 to zip sounded good, 3-2 does NOT. Not with 13 minutes left in period 2 and all of period 3 ahead of us. However, the Rangers keep doing what they do – stay in the game and with 7 minutes to go Tatar knocks Gourde away from the puck and gains the puck and dumps it onto the corner. There ZBad recovers it and directs it toward Sanheim who gets it and fires it back to ZBad who passes to Tatar who moves it to Sanheim, who shoots – GOAL! 4-2 Bathgate and it was Sanheim’s 1st of the playoffs, what a big 1st goal. 6 ½ minutes to go. Then with 5 to go, Jost goes off for butt-ending and the Rangers get a 5 MINUTE PP that will carry into the beginning of the 3rd period and a chance to really push the lead. But LA says NO!! No scoring on the PP ever again! And it looked like they meant it. Rangers had 1 scoring chance with a Panarin slap shot but Varlamov gloves it. Then LA intercepts the puck and Stephenson leads of 3 on 1 SH rush, but during the passing Stephenson loses control and that threat is squelched. And we get through the 2nd with no more scoring. So, it’s 4-2 as we head to the final (maybe) 20 minutes.

3rd Period – You can tell which team is behind as the Great Danes are pressing the attack and the Rangers are checking hard, trying to put up a wall. First they finish off killing the 5 minute major, then it’s go get some goals. 5 scoring chances in the 1st 10 minutes but Georgiev is good on the 3 that got through and a block and miss took care of the other. Then with 8 to go, Boeser lets loose with one that Provorov blocks. Then it’s Barkov winding up and firings – Georgiev with another sweet save, 6 ½ to go. 30 seconds later Giroux fires against his former team – Georgiev another save! Clock winding down, inside 4 minutes – Barkov shot, blocked by Pionk. 3 minutes Pulock shots – wide. 2 mintues Scheifele shoots and Georgiev gloves it and hangs on. TIMEOUT LA

1:22 Varlamov is watching from the bench, Hintz is the extra attacker, Barkov skates in with the puck, to Hintz, to Heiskanen to Scheifele – 1:16 to go. Scheifele looks, best option – shoot – SCORES!!!!! Oh man, that makes it 4-3, 1 goal difference. BUT WAIT – it’s under review. Jumbo screens keep replaying the goal, home crowd doesn’t like the goal, Toronto waits – IT’S A GOOD GOAL. 4-3 Bathgate with 1:12 to go. Varlamov remains in his spectator seat. LA wins the draw – into the Rangers end, Hintz, to Scheifele, hard pass to Barkov – shoots (big time scoring chance) – nice glove save and he sweeps it behind to Hertl, he looks down ice at the open net – fires! But Hintz was ready and he blocks it, back to Barkov. Nylander gains it, he looks for Barkov (of the 3 goals last game fame), he sees Nylander who then gets it to Barkov – shoots!! Donskoi blocks it. Oh now we go the other way as the Rangers set up for the empty net. Hertl, Ritchie, Pionk to Donskoi, shoots – Nylander with the block, 25 seconds left, the last rush? Heiskanen plays it along the wall to Scheifele (teams try to get some fresh legs for the final seconds). 12 seconds, Nylander scrambling to get off a shot and he does, another scoring chance – SAVE. Georgiev freezes the puck. 8 seconds left and Tavares wins the faceoff and the Rangers control the final seconds of the game and hang on for another 1 goal win with the final coming in at 4-3!

#1 – BGR: Donskoi with a goal and an assist; #2 – Zibanejad with a goal and an assist; #3 – LGD – Barkov with a goal and an assist. This time the Great Danes had the scoring chance edge with 23 to 1 and SOGs 35-24 (30 saves for Georgiev)

SUMMARY: Game 5 coming up in LA with the Rangers holding a 3-1 lead. The Georgiev magic continues to hold up! He’s ready for a game 6 – but he’s routing for NED to not make that needed. We will see, something tells me LA will be ready with everything for game 5!

Bob new coach’s file coming shortly.

PREVIEW: Desperation time – the Great Danes face a 3 games to 1 deficit against the defending champs. The Danes hung close in Bathgate in games 3-4 but came up short. But it’s time for short memories and just play to win game 5.
GAME #5:




Here we go – could be LA’s last game of a wonderful season. First scoring chance to LA one minute in – Stephenson on the wrap-around, Ned makes the save. A minute later, it’s Pastrnak with a chance – GOAL as he beats Varlamov. Not the start LA wanted, down quickly 1-0. LA gets the first PP opportunity, 3 SOG in the first minute, but another failed PP, now 1 for 12 in the series. But the Danes keep the pressure on Ned and the Rangers, and Roope Hintz is able to get one by Ned at 14:04. The periods ends tied at 1. Despite the early Ranger goal, a good period for LA, outshooting Bathgate 22-9 and dominating the faceoff circle at 77%.

At the 37 second mark of period 2, David Krejci shoots – HE SCORES – but wait, the play is under review, and NO GOAL, the net was off its moorings. Then, to make matters worse, at the 1:25 mark Tavares blows one past Varlamov and the Danes go in a blink from thinking they are up 2-1 to being down 2-1. This is not the way we want an elimination game to play out. The goal seems to put the Danes out of sync, and the Danes take back-back penalties in the middle part of the period. They are able to kill both of them off, but ANOTHER penalty at 13:24 – Jost for delay of game. On this PK, the Danes get a 3 on 1 break – Barkov loses the puck. This is followed by a 2 on 1, but Pastrnak takes it away. The good news is LA’s PK comes up big and keeps the score at 2-1 Rangers. But the period ends with the Danes down a goal and one period from elimination.

In the third, it’s Darnell Nurse with an early opportunity – he beats Ned but its hits the post, a big groan from the crowd. Then Nick Ritchie with a chance – GOAL, Varlamov should have had it but never saw it. Now it’s a 3-1 deficit and it feels like LA may be done. The Danes keep coming and coming, but Ned and the Rangers D are not making it easy. Halfway through the period, shots are 10-2 LA. With 7 minutes left, it’s 15-2 as the Danes are throwing the puck at the net at every chance they get. With 5 1/2 to go, it’s Nylander on a 2 on 1 – save. Down to 2 minutes left, SOG 19-2 in the 3rd, but still 3-1 Bathgate. Faceoff in the Rangers zone with 1:21 left, The Rangers win the draw, a pass to Carlo who shoots at the empty net – wide, icing. LA is looking for a way to get the puck to the net and finally, Boeser gets it past Ned, now a 3-2 game but down to 50 seconds left. Barkov win the draw, but Pionk blocks a shot and clears it, the Danes enter the zone – Boeser to Scheifele to Hintz – scoring chance denied by Ned. Barkov gets control, LA trying to get a shot off, Hints shoots high – GOAL!! and we’re tied at 3 with 11 seconds left. Are you kidding me, the Danes are still alive!

Now it’s another overtime, which has not been kind to LA in this series, losing quickly in games 1 and 3. This time, the Danes are the ones with the early pressure, Boeser with a chance a minute in, and the Danes have a 4-0 shot advantage in the first 5 minutes. After that, both teams have chances to end the game, trading scoring chances, but the goalies stay strong. So 20 minutes of OT, and no result – shots 10-10 and chances 5-4 in the first OT.

Right off the draw to open the 2nd OT, Donskoi fires away – POST! LA then has 3 chances in a short span – Stephenson is stopped, Nurse’s shot is blocked, and Boeser shoots wide. Shortly after that, Kapanen skates across the blue line, to Nurse with a wrist shot – HE SCORES!, Ned got beat low glove side. LA wins in dramatic fashion in double overtime at 6:16. WHEW!

SUMMARY: This was game for the ages. The Danes find a way to extend the series with some luck and a relentless effort. Looking at the stat sheet shows that LA layed it all on the line in this one – SOG 70-35, FOW 54-27, shot attempts 106-61, chances 23-9. Darnell Nurse was LA’s hero with the OT winner plus 2 assists, Roope Hintz had 2 goals, while Alex Nedeljkovic had quite the night for the Rangers with 66 saves.

Bill – let’s see you top this one in game 6. Not sure LA has anything left, but no matter what the Danes proved that they deserve to be here. COA will be forthcoming.

PREVIEW: The Rangers love playing games at the Round Garden and in front of their fans – best fans in all the MWHL!! But they wouldn’t have minded if the Stanley Cup finals had ended in LA LA Land! Seriously a 5 game series to retain the Cup would have been fine. And it was within their grasp. 51 seconds left in game 5 and the Rangers were up 3-1. That’s a two goal lead with less than a minute. Certainly they could hold that! Best defense in the Cup playoffs!! But LA had other plans – boy did they have other plans. A Boeser goal with 50 seconds left and then a Hintz goal with 11 seconds left. It’s a wonder they didn’t score in those final 11 seconds. But then OT, sudden death OT – but not 20 minutes worth, 26 minutes and 16 seconds and then Nurse puts in the game winner! And the Great Danes force this game 6 (and ruin the Rangers perfect OT record in the process). Momentum is a big thing. And it was the 3 OT game out of 5, and ALL the games have been decided by 1 goal. Can’t get better than this for suspense and drama. So – what the heck – let’s have a game 6. The challenge from LA was to see if we could outdo the more than instant classic of game 5. Well – hang on to your hats, here comes something special!
GAME #6:




After a marathon game 5 the skaters hit the ice in Madison Round Garden and they quickly shake off the fog – it was there – but this game is too big to let it take control. In the first 3 minutes there were several offsides, several good hits, some blocks and only 1 scoring chance and NO SOGs! Finally with 3 ½ gone, Scheifele gets off a shot that Georgiev has to stop (yes, as has been the case, he’s in the home Rangers net). More offsides and finally the Rangers get a shot on Varlamov with just under 5 minutes gone. The teams now are starting to loosen up and they trade a couple SOGs. Then Scheifele takes it into the Rangers end, passes to Barkov, oh, scoring chance, shot – Carlo blocks it. Provorov gains control, lines change, Hertl over the line, to Pionk slips it to Donskoi behind the goal – the wraparound – HE SCORES!! His 6th and it’s a big one giving the Rangers the 1-0 lead at 6:07!

A minute and half later, the Rangers find themselves in a pickle however when Pastrnak is sent off for roughing. However, LA has been dreadful on the PP (or the Rangers excellent on the PK) – converting only 1 previous chance. And once again, they fail to convert. They managed 1 SOG/Scoring chance – Georgiev was up to the task. The good news for the Great Danes – they committed no penalties in the 1st period, but they only managed to get 4 SOGs. Rangers got 10, plus the goal for a 1-0 lead at the break.

2nd Period starts and the action level picks up – and so do the penalties. 4:12 Boeser is called for holding – but LA holds the Rangers to no goal!. Then at 9:28 Pelech and Carlo are sent off for roughing. While they are in the box, Gourde goes off for slashing (10:43) so the Rangers get another PP. Only 1 scoring chance on this PP – but it was by LA. After misplaying the puck, regaining it and moving it around to regroup, Hertl is pressured and Stephenson pokes it away, and gets the puck to Pulock. He deftly moves it to Giroux – shoots – but Georgiev stones him. That was the PP excitement. And no goals are scored in this period. 10 SOGS for LA, 11 for Bathgate and the Great Danes had a 5-4 edge in scoring chances. Folks these guys are playing things tight. Lots of hits and checks, break ups, missed passes. Both teams are basically equal from the faceoff circle and the Rangers hang on to the 1-0 lead as we finish 2 and go to 3.

Opening 4 minutes and the Great Danes are coming hard. 3 scoring chances – a rocket by Scheifele that Georgiev knocks down. Boeser with a great chance but he fires it wide and them Pulock slaps one – but Hertl block it. Man, the game keeps going back and forth, no one wants to give up the next goal (and LA is looking for the best opportunity. Just past the 8 minute mark it looks like they find it – Barkov into the zone, Pelech with it to Brodin to Scheifele – he tees it up. Uohh – Georgiev with the big save. Then 9 minutes in, Scheifele and Barkov are at it again – heading up ice – delayed penalty coming Sanheim (holding the stick) – but Barkov rips a one-timer from Scheifele – Georgiev again with the save and he freezes it – penalty begings. Again, however, the Rangers kill it off with only 1 threat on a Krejci shot.
Minutes keep ticking away. No more scoring chances until 4 minutes are left and this time it’s Bathgate with the drive. Provorov gets a pass through to Donskoi into the zone, to Richie back to Donskoi – shoots – Varlamov gets it and keeps the game within reach! We’re now down inside 90 seconds and the Rangers are in the LA end, Panarin with a drive – Save by Varlamov. He can’t even get out of the net. The faceoff – LA wins it and starts up ice, but after a quick line change Hertl takes the puck away from Krejci. Rangers take it into the LA zone, 60 seconds to go, 58 seconds, PENALTY!!!!! Oh, Nurse is called for tripping as the Rangers were setting up for the kill. YES – final minute and the Rangers have the PP and man advantage – but it also frees up LA for long dumps. So the faceoff in the LA end and LA wins it. Pelech heads up the right wing – Girard with the puck, he gets it to Jost, to Pelech – he fires a slap shot – GOAL!! Georgiev gets a piece but that wasn’t enough and once again the Great Danes tie an elimination game with less than a minute to go in regulation. And they did it SHORT HANDED. And for Pelech, it was his FIRST goal of the post season. Couldn’t get more important than that. LA still short handed, but not quite as reckless for the final 40 seconds and regulation ends 1-1 – we’re going to a 4th OT. LA had the slight SOG lead in the 3rd 9-8 and it’s that last one that keeps the series going!

So Overtime Period 1 – can we get this one done quickly? Bathgate hopes so and they still have 1:02 of PP to start the period. But LA keeps stealing or knocking the puck away and the Rangers can’t muster anything. However, they do come firing at Varlamov often while their defense is very tough. And once again the first OT period comes and goes – Rangers get 9 shots on Varlamov while LA only gets 3 on Georgiev – none go in and both teams amass 2 scoring chances.

So, lets go to period 5 (2nd OT). You look over at the Great Danes bench and you get the sense they are sniffing blood. As the game progresses, even though Georgiev and the Rangers stifled them in the 4th, you get the feeling they are digging in deeper for a big thrust. And sure enough, the opening faceoff goes their way and Nylander, Scheifele and Pulock are setting up and Scheifele gets the scoring chance – SHOOTS! Georgiev again stops it cold! Faceoff and the Danes again control play in the Bathgate end – puck goes to Brodin – scoring chance SHOOTS – save again by Georgiev. 3 minutes in, Danes again in the Rangers zone – Pulock in possession, plays it along the boards to Krejci, he sees Hintz (the playoff points leader) – another scoring chance set up – SLAP SHOT – ohh, Panarin blocks it. Another minute and a half goes by and again LA is in the Bathgate end and this time it’s Nurse with the chance – shoots it high looking to beat Georgiev – NOPE, he saves and holds on again! 4 minutes, 4 scoring chances, 4 SOGs! Rangers win the next faceoff and Zibanejad gets it, he works it out of their end. He gets it to Buchnevich (back after taking game 5 off), he gains the LA zone and passes back to ZBad. ZBad sees Tatar on the left point and passes to him, back to ZBad, over to Buchnevich – Tatar moving free – pass to Tatar – shoots – GOAL!!!!!!!!! SCORE, game over! Rangers win the Cup again as Tatar gets his FIRST GOAL of the PLAYOFFS. 5:23 in the 2nd OT will be remembered in Bathgate lore for a long time! What a game – not as offensive as game 5, but just as tense and shattering of the mind. Stats were pretty much even down the line (Rangers did out shoot the Great Danes by 10, but everything ran about even).
#3 – Tatar with the GWG!
#2 – Donskio with the other Rangers goal!
#1 – Well, yes, Alexander Georgiev! 29 saves (and 85 minutes, 23 seconds in goal)

 SUMMARY: 6 games, all 1 goal, 4 OT, only thing missing was a game 7. LA is one Great (Danes) Team! Roope Hintz led all players with 20 points (9 goals, 11 assists) in the playoffs! Semyon Varlamov goes 2.92 in 11 games (against the top teams) and .912% saves percentage.

Congratulations to Bob Michalowski on putting together a very worthy team. And don’t be surprised to see them in the playoffs for a long time.

Rangers are celebrating and the man considered most responsible – MVP of the Stanley Cup – Alexander Georgiev! 3 wins vs. LA! And 8 starts in the playoffs – 8 wins, 1.72 GAA ad .944 Save %! And he was pretty much the lowest rated goalie used in the playoffs. Magic season and it all came together in the finals! Rangers did things with a balanced team all season and it carried through in the Cup playoffs. A few key moves solidified this group and will they go for the Three-Peat next year? You bet they will try!