Bathgate Rangers
WEEKLY PREVIEW: Charlotte at Bathgate for best of 3 in the 1st round of the expanded playoffs! Last year they met in the 1st round – then a best of 7 and Bathgate prevailed in 5. Rangers hoping for the same results, Charlotte has been gearing for rematch all season, Bathgate going for THREEPEAT!
GAME #1 – VISITING TEAM: Charlotte Buzzards
GAME #1: CHARLOTTE BUZZARDS@ BATHGATE RANGERS Sorokin vs. Skinner in the nets. Action starts with Charlotte winning the faceoff and moving the play to Bathgate end where they control the opening minute of play. 30 seconds in, Johansen with a slap shot scoring chance but Skinner saves it. 40 seconds in, Bathgate wins a face-off then Seider hits Tatar hard, Buzzards get the puck. Pressure, shots, more pressure and Myers, to Marchessault to Seider to Marchssaults – ah, shoot it – he does – LIGHT THE LAMP, GOAL – Charlotte up 1-0 1 minute 5 seconds into the game! That wasn’t supposed to happen but Charlotte is amped up for this one. Then the game settles for a bit. Back and forth with blocks and saves but then the Rangers skate it hard up ice with miniutes gone by, Trouba from Miller to Kreider – shotts – SCORE!! And the game is tied. Both teams playing clean, lots of checking, disruptions keep the scoring chances down. Finally another Rangers chance as Zibanejad comes into the zone with it and sends it to Kreider – who gets it to Miller – shoots – GOAL! 2-1 Rangers. For Miller that was only his 2nd goal this season as he had just 1 during the regular season. That is the scoring for the opening period but the Rangers will start period 2 with 1:14 of PP as a Bennett holding penalty will carry over. 1st period shots, 8 for Charlotte and 6 for Bathgate.

2nd period, Charlotte kills off the penalty and then they apply the pressure again and again they make things happen after a big Sorokin save. Fehervary skates out with it, to Marner taking it into the Rangers end to Marner to Johansen at the point – slap shot – GOAL!!!! Johansen from Marner and Ovechkin ties the game at 2-2. Then 9 minutes later Backlund gets called for holding giving the Rangers their 2nd power play. And the Rangers come through as Panarin and Zibanejad set up Kreider who actually fires a long slapper that beats Sorokin to corner and the Rangers regain the lead 3-2. with 7 to go in the 2nd. But the Rangers aren’t done – they get another one past Sorokin 2 minutes later when Tavares on a setup from Panarin and Buchnevich beats Sorokin low under the stick. 4-2 Rangers and that’s how the 2nd ends.

3rd period sees the Rangers skating to ensure the Buzzards don’t get that aggression going early. And it works, although Charlotte does manage to fire 10 shots on Skinner during the period, but they weren’t too tough. At least not until the final seconds are ticking off the clock and Sorokin leaves the ice. However, it is Provorov of Bathgate who gets a goal – an empty netter – finalize the 5-2 score favor of the Rangers as they take game 1.

3. Miller 1 goal, 1 assist
2. Tavares 1 goal, 1 assist
1. Kreider 2 goals

Panarin with 3 assists, Skinner 22 saves.
And with a best of 3 – it puts Charlotte in the do or die mode! And they will need to pick up their game as the Rangers took them 2 to 1 on faceoffs and the Rangers blocked 20 shots!

GAME #2 – VISITING TEAM: Charlotte Buzzards
GAME #2: CHARLOTTE BUZZARDS@ BATHGATE RANGERS Another beyond sellout crowd at the Garden and both teams put new faces in the goals – Husso for Charlotte, Francouz for Bathgate.

1st Period action starts when Trouba is sent off the ice for roughing a minute and a half into the game. Rangers however kill the penalty. And the teams skate on – very much a different game as they teams show playoff tension as well as the fact that the Buzzards are in an elimination game. Half way through the 1st – still no score, then Zibanejad gets whistled for slashing and Charlotte has another man advantage. And again the Rangers kill this one off. There just doesn’t seem to be goal at either end of the ice and yet this was the highest two team SOG total so far in the playoffs – 12 for Charlotte, 10 for Bathgate – neither Husso or Francouz gave up anything.

2nd period and we have Suter called for high sticking but Trouba also gets whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct – no harm no foul. But the Rangers are really clampling down on Charlotte, they can’t get enough control to get off any shots. They end the 2nd with only 4 shots on Francouz, he stops them all. And the Buzzards were trying to force the action and it results in giving Bathgate 3 2nd period power plays: Seider for high sticking, Myers for Hooking and Pietrangelo for slashing. But the Buzzards stopped them all. Myers penalty however did lead a Bathgate goal. Just under 5 minutes to go he goes off. Rangers work hard but keep getting stifled. With time expiring Zibanejad shoots from a bad angle and Pietrangelo blocks it, Myers comes back on the ice, but the Rangers still have it and Kreider and Panarin work it back and forth and the see ZBad and wraps it around for the GOAL and a 1-0 Rangers lead with 2 1/2 to go in the 2nd. And the 2nd period horn blows with it 1-0 Bathgate.

3rd period – Charlotte is up against the wall and you can see it in the faces of their players. But they skate with a positive determination and keep pressing. Then Marchessault goes off for hooking at 6 minutes into the period. But the defense is up to the task again and it remains 1-0 with 12 to go. And Charlotte is controlling play no matter how hard the Rangers are trying to quash their momentum. with 11 to go, they get the puck, Marner to Ovechkin and Brandon Carlo lays hard into him and the Rangers control the puck. Tavares on a 2 on 1 break, he dekes, passes it to Panarin, Panaring the wrist shot – GOAL! Husso put the stick down but not fast enough. So with 9:40 left the Rangers take a BIG 2-0 lead! Fans are going nuts. But try as they might, the Buzzards can’t seem to break through the Rangers dragnet. In fact there are no scoring chances by either team for the next 8 minutes as the Rangers play clamp the opposition. Bends but no breaks. Last 90 seconds, Husso to the bench, Buzzards step it up again, Rangers counter, but finally Charlotte breaks through when Ovechkin and Marchessault set up Rust for the late, late goal making it 2-1 Rangers with 25 looong seconds to go. Rangers call timeout – they want their best out there. And it works, they are able to hold off any more attacks with the 6 skaters for Charlotte – and the Rangers win game 2, 2-1 and take the best of 3 game series 2 games to none! Fans go nuts!

STARS: (all BGR)
3. Zibanejad 2 goal
2. Francouz 27 saves
1. Panarin 1 goal, 1 assist

WEEKLY SUMMARY: Once again, the Rangers find ways to play solid defense in the post season and score more than the opposition. Charlotte and the Rangers have a history and play each other tough. It was 3-2 Rangers during the regular season and 14-13 in goals scored. We love and fear playing this team!

Congratulations to Michael Cole on yet again another fine season. Maybe next year. Rangers now prepare for Round 2!

Alamo Defenders
WEEKLY PREVIEW: Playoff time is here. Gilbert comes to Alamo for a best of 3. Always strange to face Gilbert as they have both Stamkos and Marchand who were part of Alamo’s two championships.
GAME #1 – VISITING TEAM: Gilbert Sharks
GAME #1: GILBERT SHARKS@ ALAMO DEFENDERS The Sharks get off to a good start as MacKinnon scores on a deflection at 6:09 of the first period.

In the 2nd period, the Sharks score 2 more as Zuccarello and Gourde score to make it 3-0.

Alamo rebounds as Bouchard scores a short handed goal. Then, Nyquist scores later in the 2nd. Both players getting goals is unusual.

In the 3rd, Alamo has 12 shots to Gilbert’s 4 shots, but cannot score as Jarry as an excellent game. He should have been named one of the stars.

Gilbert 3 Alamo 2


WEEKLY SUMMARY: Gilbert takes game 1, 3-2 to lead the best of 3 series.
GAME #1: GILBERT SHARKS@ ALAMO DEFENDERS Game 1 was close, so was game 2.

1st period, Alamo with 8 shots and Gilbert 7 – no goals.

2nd period, Niederreiter scores his 22nd. Makar follows 2 minutes later with a power play goal.

3rd period, both teams have 6 shots and no goals.

A great defensive game with Gilbert scoring 2 goals within a short period of time in the 2nd period.

Gilbert wins 2-0, and takes the series 2-0.

1- Jarry with 23 saves – MVP of the series.
2- Makar

WEEKLY SUMMARY: Congratulations to Gilbert on the series win.