|SERIES PREVIEW||Stanley Cup semi-finals, Pittsburgh vs. CapJack. The two Patrick Division teams both sent the Smythe Division teams home in 6 games and now they will face each other
Pittsburgh took the season series 4 games to 3 with 1 tie. All wins were by the home team and the 1 tie came at Madison Oval Garden. So just because the Rangers have the home-ice advantage they will have their work cut out for them. In those 8 games, the Spirit outscored the Rangers 40-32! The biggest difference for the teams – Pittsburg’s defense is stingier.
|GAME #1||The game starts early for the Rangers with a Boutilier slap shot goal 1:58 into the game. Then the play goes up and down with Pittsburgh getting a couple of scoring chances but Weeks making the saves. Then with 7 minutes gone by, the Rangers win a faceoff in their own end, McNab working it out and up to Green, to Arniel moving in at the point – a slap shot – GOAL! 2-0 CapJack with just under 13 left in the 1st. Pittsburgh then seems to step things up but with 5 to goal, Kromm blocks a shot and that starts a Rangers breakout. Kromm gets it into the Pittsburgh end and then Crowder and Maloney set up Trottier who fires a quick slap shot for the Ranger’s 3rd goal in the 1st! Down 3-0 the Spirit chooses not to give up and they keep applying pressure (14 SOGs in the 1st) and the work pays off with 30 seconds left. On the PP due to a Maloney penalty and Goulet and Crossman use the pass-it back-and-forth drill to make it 3-1 before intermission. Goulet gets the goal, his 6th of the playoffs!
2nd period settles down and the game is scoreless as the period progresses. The Rangers however did have a couple of Power Plays when Ashton goes off for tripping at 3:54. Then just before his time is up, Kasper goes off for tripping and the Rangers have a 2 man advantage for 43 seconds! But Pittsburgh kills it off – and both penalties. With 7:54 gone, Ramsey is whistled and it will be the 3rd PP for the Rangers. HOWEVER – this one will be for 5 minutes as it was a 5-minute checking from behind. And this penalty could prove the game-breaker. Both Trottier and Kromm connect for CapJack making the score 5-1 Rangers! And the Rangers pretty much controlled the offensive play in the 2nd and their 12-5 edge in SOGs was indicative of the play.
So what’s in store for the 3rd period? NO PENALTIES! And No goals for the 1st 17 minutes as CapJack tries to find and maintain defense. So much so that they only fired 3 shots on goal for the period. But not the Spirit – they fire 16 shots at Weeks in the 3rd. And with 2:35 to go, former Ranger Neufeld scores against his old team beating Weeks low, 5-2 CapJack. Spirit keeps up the pressure with a couple more scoring chances and then with a minute and a half left, Payne with a slap shot, Weeks saves it, but the rebound comes right back to Payne, shoots, and SCORES! 5-3 CapJack 89 seconds left. Pittsburgh still coming, pull their goalie and Crowder is able to get the puck in their end and fires it at the empty net – wide – icing. Faceoff Rangers end, CapJack gets it, and they put a pass sequence together that ends with a McNab EN goal to run the final to 6-3 CapJack! Game 1 is in the books with a win for the home team.
STARS (all CAP)
|GAME #2||The Rangers want to sweep the home opening 2 games, the Spirit wants a win to shift home ice to them! And they take advantage of an early CapJack penalty (Maloney 2 minutes, tripping). And Larmer converts for his 5th of the playoffs and gives Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead 4 minutes into the game. Short-lived lead as Haworth scoops up a loose puck less than 2 minutes later and has a breakaway – deke here and there, shoots – GOAL, tie game. But then the Spirit comes right back when Goulet takes a slapshot the beat Resch less than a minute after the Ranger’s goal. 2-1 Pittsburgh with 13 1/2 to go in the 1st. Lots of action in the 1st, 29 SOG (15 for the Rangers, 14 for the Spirit) but no more scoring. Well almost. We get down to the final minute of the 1st and Barr scores with 51 seconds left for CapJack and then 20 seconds later Smail scores for Pittsburgh to regain the lead and go to the locker up 3-2!
2nd period sees 11 Spirit shots, 8 Rangers shots, 1 Rangers penalty, and NO GOALS!! So it’s off to the 3rd period.
And scoring happens – 5 times to match period 1. The first goal comes from Barr (his 2nd) at 5:47 and that ties up the game at 3-3, 3rd time the Rangers tie it. And just like the last time, 18 seconds later Goulet scores his 7th of the postseason to regain the lead for Pittsburgh. Then the Rangers get a break when the goalie is called for tripping at 7:22. Power play is faltering and with 10 seconds left, Derlago scores the SH goal for Pittsburgh to put them up 5-3 with just less than 11 minutes to go. But the Rangers don’t give up and Barr scores his 3rd goal of the game with just over 3 to go and it’s 5-4 Pittsburgh. Comeback?? We move to less than 2 and it’s still a Spirit 1 goal lead, 90 seconds and Resch is finally able to get off the ice and Crowder comes on to aid the attack. Rangers in the zone, shot, save, loose in front, Crowder gets it, passes to Maloney to Arniel the wraparound – GOAL!! TIE GAME has just over a minute left in regulation. And 5-5 was the score when the horn blows and we head to OVERTIME, Stanley Cup OVERTIME!
Less than a minute in and Crowder with an SC but Ramsey blocks the shot. Each time is checking hard as play is kept on center ice. Then the Rangers get it into the Pittsburg zone with 1 1/2 gone, Kromm with a slap shot – wide. Pittsburgh goes right back up the ice ending with a Rochfort shot that Resch stops. 2 1/2 gone. Now it’s back and forth. Rangers get the next SC with 4 1/2 gone on a Crowder shot but Hrudey stops it and hangs on. Still lots of action from both teams, shots, and saves, Haworth with another SC 6 1/2 in. Then with about 8 gone, Skriko gets a SC saved by Resch and he holds. Then the checking takes over and 11 minutes into the 4th period it’s still 5-5. 6 1/2 left Pittsburgh knocks Bjugstad off the puck and comes down ice on a 3 on 2, Skriko ends up with a SC and shoots – wide. With 5 to go, Bjugstad shoots – SAVE held on by Hrudey. Puck drop, Pittsburgh wins it, up ice, Ramsey a shot, blocked by Maloney, he has it, to Robinson – Larmer knocks him off the puck. Rogers has it, to Larmer, to Goulet, he shoots – GOAL!! Game over, just like that. Pittsburgh wins 6-5 in OT to tie the series and head home now with the home-ice advantage.
80 SOG – 41 Spirit, 39 Rangers 1 PP and 1 SH goal by Pittsburgh, that SH goal is probably what enabled them to win it!
|So 2 games in and each team have a win. Series shifts to the Stan Terlecki Arena in Pittsburgh where the Spirit will look to gain the advantage and win a couple.
CapJack comes to Pittsburgh with the series tied 1-1!
|GAME #3||A “Spirited” affair (rim shot)…
1st Period sees the Spirit take a 4-1 lead as starting goalie Dion is chased and replaced with Weeks.
Then CapJack mounts their comeback with Kromm (6) and Haworth (7) making it 4-3!
Goulet (10) gets his 2nd of the game to make it 5-3!
Then Capjack finishes up the 2nd period scoring with a goal by Boutilier (3) to make it 5-4 headed into the 3rd!
Capjack scores two (Haworth 8 and Sauve 4) to take their first lead of the game 6-5!!
At 16:17, Larmer (7) scores his 2nd of the game to tie it 6-6!!
Then 32 seconds later, Smail (3) gives the Spirit back the lead 7-6!!!
That is where this one would end as Hurdey shuts the door (finally) and the Spirit go up 2-1 in the series with the 7-6 Game 3 win!!
So far this is not a goaltending or defensive series!!
|GAME #4||Will the Spirit win and go up 3-1 with an elimination game back at CapJack? Or will the Rangers tie the series?
Let’s find out…
Goulet (11) opens up the scoring… 1-0 PIT
Crowder (5) ties it, 1-1. That’s how the 1st period would end.
2nd Period, Trottier (7) and Arniel (5) make it 3-1 CapJack!! Goulet scores two (12 and 13) to complete the natural hat trick and tie it up 3-3!!
CapJack gets one back from Trottier (8) to make it a 4-3 CAP lead!
3rd period, Kromm (7) makes it 5-3 CAP!!
Goulet (14) gets his FOURTH of the game to bring the Spirit back within one, 5-4… but Barr (5) scores in the final minute, and Weeks makes it stand for a 6-4 CapJack win to even the series 2-2!!!
|Goulet is on fire… Hrudey is not. Considering a goalie change for Game 5.
Game 5 of what is becoming a classic series! (Did I say that?) Pittsburgh and CapJack split the 2 games in Pittsburgh and return to the Madison Oval Garden all tied at 2-2. Whoever cliched the term that Game 5 is pivotal in a best-of-7 series when teams are tied 2-2 sure knew what he was talking about. The loser of this game faces the elimination game in game 6. Pittsburgh has been sparked by Michel Goulet and 14 goals in 10 games – 4 of them in game 4 (however, those were the only Pittsburgh goals in that game that they dropped 6-4). After game 3, the Spirit held the 2-1 edge, but as at CapJack, the home team couldn’t put two games in a row, so here we are. Wamsley gets the start for Pittsburgh and Resch the start for the Rangers!
|GAME #5||To date, there hasn’t been too much defense and we’ve had lots of shooting and eh, ok to small amounts of penalties. So it’s a big surprise when the teams begin to play defense and tense and tentative play – no one wants to lose this game.
Period 1 – Rangers slip up first when Boutilier goes off for hooking 4 minutes into the game. But the Rangers PK squad is up to the task. And the period continues scoreless for the opening 12 minutes and then the Rangers get a huge break. Nylund goes off for 4 minutes for roughing! Seems he started getting frustrated a shift or so before when he levels Kromm. But the Spirit was stifled. Next time on the ice, the Rangers are working it out of their end, Bjugstad with it, and Nylund knock him off the puck – well actually he practically knocks him out – 4 minutes ROUGHING. As the PP starts, Steen is a one-man wrecking crew thwarting all the Ranger’s attacks with clearing passes, hits, and clears and then he leaves for a line change. And Crowder and company go on the attack. After a Crowder shot goes wide, McNab gets it to Robinson, shoots, save but Crowder gets it again, back to Robinson, and shoots GOAL! 1-0 on the PP goal and Rangers draw 1st blood. And they still have a PP for 2 more minutes! And it takes less than a minute of that time for them to go up 2-0 when Sauve wins the race for the puck behind the Spirit goal – to Maloney, to Suave – GOAL! Once the teams got back to even strength, the tap dancing continued and the Rangers were able to keep Pittsburgh off the board for the opening 20 minutes. Resch stops 9 shots, and Wamsley stops 4 of 6.
Off to the 2nd and Rangers are smelling blood and want this to end but it’s a penalty by Spirit star Goulet that gets things going. The Rangers killed off an early roughing penalty (2 min) to Barr but now with the man advantage 9 minutes in, they strike paydirt again. 30 seconds into the PP Trottier gets his 9th goal of the postseason and the Rangers grab a 3-0 lead. 3 minutes later, seldom used MacDermid is set up by Pettersson and Boutilier and the Rangers grab a 4-0 lead! We know no leads are safe, but we’re just past the halfway point and feeling really good. AND THEN – Green goes off for elbowing giving Pittsburgh hope and PP. And it takes them 12 seconds for, YUP, you guessed it, GOULET to score (15). He parks in front of the net and tips in a hot shot from O’Connell – totally crossed up Resch and it’s 4-1 as the comeback starts?? Well – maybe not, on the center ice faceoff after the goal, Trottier wins it, into the Pittsburgh zone, Arniel fires away and Crowder gets the deflection and just like that it goes in and the Rangers get their 4 goal lead right back. 14 seconds between goals. After that, the 2nd period was rather quiet except for Rogers hooking penalty in the last minute and a half with a carryover. 6 shots for the Spirit as CapJack clamped down.
So on to the 3rd and the Spirit facing the 5-1 deficit, come out of intermission on a mission – score goals. But the Rangers – still with the power play going – decide they won’t let anything come into their zone, anything meaningful anyway. In fact, they shut down their own offense in favor of draining the Spirit out of Pittsburgh. The plan had a few flaws, but not many. 3 minutes into the period and here comes Steen stickhandling his way up ice. Plays it to Crossman, to Rochefort, back to Steen who passes it to Smail, back to Rochefort – he fires it low, but it sails and GOAL! Resch lost it on the rise. 1st goal for Rochefort was set up by Smail and Steen. But back to the clampdown, stand ’em up at the Blue Line tactic – worked to perfection the rest of the way. CapJacks takes 1 SOG in the 3rd – but gives up only 1 goal to hang on to that big lead and win game 5, 5-2!! The home crowd goes berserk!
Rangers pull off 59% of the faceoffs and hold the Spirit to 24 shots. Rangers take 30 shots total in the game, only 3 miss the net, 7 were blocked, 20 on goal, and 5 of them go in! Resch comes through with 22 saves. The Rangers get 3 PP goals – the difference in the game.
STARS (all CAP)
Rangers forwards had to work around an early injury to Kromm who logged only 5:32 ice time. Lots of extra time for the top forward’s rotation to fill the slot on the top line.
|So, it’s back to Pittsburgh, they are wounded by headed home. Expect the game to be fierce with everything they got. They’re here because they woke up during the season and they want to get back to the Cup finals. Who will be in goal – for either team?
Elimination game in a great series thus far in which CapJack has proven that goalie ratings mean very little in this game.
|GAME #6||Can the Spirit live to fight another day back at CapJack?
Let’s find out…
Rogers (4) opens the scoring at 4:01 of the 1st.
Trottier (10) gets it back on a PP (CapJack PP is no joke)… 1-1
Skriko (2) gets the lead back on our own PP… 2-1.
Crowder (7) evens the score 2-2.
Go to the 2nd period…
Arniel (6) gives CapJack the lead, 3-2.
Then back-to-back PP’s for CapJack and they cash in on both (ouch)… Crowder (8) and Beck (1). Rangers lead 5-2, and that’s how the period would end.
3rd period. Down 5-2 against the Division Champs. Who can we turn to be the hero?
Goulet, that’s who! This time he gets an indisputable “natural hat trick” as he rattles off three goals (16, 17, 18) in an 8-minute span!! Game tied 5-5!!! #BeastMode
With time ticking down, at 19:07 Bjugstad (1) scores a ballbreaker of a goal to put the Rangers up 6-5 with only 53 seconds left.
Wamsley (who is starting over Hrudey but with the same Swiss Cheese results) is pulled from the net and the extra attacker is on (Payne) and the top line hops over the boards for one final push to save the season!
Rogers has the puck and gains the zone…
Passes to Goulet…
Over to Larmer…
Over to Payne, who loses control… but Goulet grabs the puck!
Goulet getting pressured… he shoots… off the crossbar!!! AND IN THE NET!!! TIE GAME with 34 seconds left! Goulet has been inhuman and a true hero for this team!!
Wamsley makes a HUGE save on Crowder on a wraparound, to sort of make up for a crappy game… and sends it to OT!!
Elimination game in OT… nerve wracking!!!
An even OT period… saves at both ends. Shots are even 4-4 until…
9:17 left in the OT period…
Sauve wins the faceoff in the defensive zone…
Bjugstad has control…
passes to MacDermid, who is knocked off the puck by Nylund.
Pittsburgh has control…
Over to Neufeld… to Larmer (who is playing on this line for the injured Kasper)
Larmer looking to make a play…
He drifts left, winds up for a slapper… GOAL!!!!!
Series tied 3-3!!!
|When asked about the victory, coach Chris Niespodzianski said…
“The key to winning this series seems to be out-shooting the Rangers because their goalies are playing way above their talent level, and our goalies are playing way below their talent level…”
Seriously, Resch is a 5.0-rated goalie and he is completely outplaying both Hrudey (7.9) and Wamsley (7.8)…
Methinks Mr. Koch needs to go back to the drawing board on how goalie ratings figure into the gameplay.
Back to CapJack for Game 7… oh boy!So we fill up Madison Oval Garden for a Game 7 in a spirited series between Pittsburgh and CapJack to see who advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. It’s a series where we’ve had 2 OT games and tons of scoring. And the better goalies are having the worst of it! And the better defense is having the worst of it! But the one-man wrecking crew, Michel Goulet, has kept the Spirit in the series with goals, 13 of them in this series in 6 games. Twice scoring 4 goals in a game! Rangers counter this game with seldom-used defenseman Richie Dunn – probably the 3rd best D man on the team, but he’s had limited use so far, got in 1 game in the Charlotte series (a win), and now with everything on the line, he told the coach “I can make it tonight!” So scratch Phil Russell. Weeks will be in goal – his 3rd start against Pittsburgh – he’s had the lucky charm when starting against the Spirit, 2-0 in those starts. He was awarded the loss when he came in in relief in game 3 (giving up the last 3 goals in a 7-6 loss).
So far the 3 Pittsburgh wins were all by 1 goal and game 6 was a majestic comeback of monumental proportions. Hometown fans were glad that was on the road, they might not have survived had it been in the Garden. But now – here we are – an elimination game for both teams. Who will advance, and who will play golf/go fishing?
|GAME #7||The first chance comes within the opening minute when Arniel has a beckoning net in front of him but shoots it wide. Then Pittsburgh ices the puck. Right after the faceoff Neufeld knocks Bjugstad off the puck – oh, cheap shot – and MacDermid takes offense and it’s a fight! And MacDermid gets the better of it but both he and Neufeld leave for a 5-minute rest. 6 minutes into the 1st and both teams are actually playing defense! Blocked shots or wide shots taken in frustration are the norms. Then 7 1/2 minutes in, **GOULET** gets in close and with a scoring chance fires a wrister – Save by Weeks. A minute later Weeks saves another scoring chance. 9 minutes in, Ashton gets leveled – no call – after a Hrudey save. After the faceoff, Derlago has it and blam, Arniel hits him from behind, the arm goes up and Goulet comes on as the extra attacker on the delayed penalty. But the Rangers block any scoring attempt and the penalty to Arniel is assessed. Wait – 4 minutes!!, No way! Spirit on the attack, O’Connell a drive – Weeks the save. Rangers clear, O’Connell again tees it up – Weeks the save. Again O’Connell, again Weeks. Next Weeks denies Rogers and the Rangers clear it out almost 2 minutes of PP have gone by! The Rangers change up players and Pittsburgh has Goulet on the ice. Larmer with it, shoots, it hits Beck, it’s free, Crossman controls, shoots – GOAL! It just flew by Weeks for Crossman’s 1st of the series. It came in the final two minutes of the PP so it’s back to even steven. Play again becomes a tough checking contest and then with just over 5 to go, Mantha gets whistled for cross-checking. CapJack with the PP. Slap shots, blocked shots, and Hrudey saves mark the 1st minute of the PP. And as the final seconds of the PP tick away, the Ranger really applies a charge. Sauve goes high, Hrudey blocks it, Sauve controls and goes for the wraparound – save, Trottier the rebound in front – LIGHT THE LAMP, and the game is tied as Trottier scores his 11th. Rangers are energized and quickly go for another goal, but Hrudey stops them cold. Then the play shifts to Pittsburgh’s control as the period races to an end. And now it’s Weeks to the rescue. Then it’s up-and-down play but after a great save by Hrudey with 2 minutes to go, here comes the Spirit. He passes it out to Crossman and the change of line is made and O’Connell gets the play going. Neufeld carries it into the Rangers’ end on a 2 on 1. To Ramsey, to Derlago back at the point – a slap shot – GOAL! Weeks made a valiant effort, but not good enough and it’s 2-1 Pittsburgh after the opening period.
The 2nd period sees 2 goals, 1 by each team. First McNab scores for CapJack 5 minutes in to tie the game! The crowd was notably happy – that Dunn had an assist. Then with just under 5 to go, Rogers scores his 5th of the playoffs to put Pittsburgh back up 3-2. And Goulet had the assist. Pittsburgh did give CapJack a couple of PPs – but they killed them both off. CapJack took more shots – but the period resembled a playoff game!
3rd Period – Rangers trailing on home ice, in the elimination game. Pittsburgh is up by 1 with high hopes on their minds. Both teams were thinking of the big lead CapJack had (insurmountable no less) in Game 6 that went bye-bye. So everyone in the arena is aware that nothing is anywhere near settled! Well, maybe the Spirit has found something – something familiar both with a twist. After a quick Crowder shot is stopped by Hrudey, the Spirit works it up. Goulet has it, but the Rangers are closing on him, he gives it to O’Connell who fires away and Rogers redirects it, and GOAL!!! Rogers scores 1:03 into the 3rd, his 2nd, Goulet’s 2nd assist, and the Spirit grade a 4-2 lead!! Then 20 seconds later Smail and Dunn are sent off the ice for roughing. It is testing on the ice. And to make things worse for the Rangers, Kromm goes off a minute and a half later for cross-checking (but only 2 minutes). The Rangers kill it off and the period seems energized. CapJack needs goals, but Pittsburgh is not letting up. There is almost more SOG in this period than in the rest of the game. But Hrudey and his defense are not giving up anything. Then with 8 1/2 left, the Rangers dig themselves in deeper when Boutilier is called for holding. On comes the Pittsburgh PP unit again. But miraculously the Rangers kill it off to stay alive, but time is running out ever so quickly. We’re down to 5 minutes to go when Crossman gets leveled, play on or they didn’t see it. Nylund might have as after a line change he gets called for hooking and CapJack sees a glimmer of hope with 4:29 to go. After Pittsburgh clears it all the way down the ice, the PP sets up. Trottier brings it in, to Suave who slaps away but O’Connell blocks it. But Sauve gets it right back, to Kromm, and he fires a rocket – oh Hrudey where art though, you should have had it but it flies by him to the back of the net. 4-3 Pittsburgh as Kromm cuts the deficit in half. 3:24 to go. Rangers working in for another chance when there is a delayed penalty called. But the Spirit touches it up and what’s this? Nylund again for hooking! (Maybe he had too much paint). Man, what a PP – Rangers keep firing on Hrudey who keeps making great saves. Rangers pull Weeks for a 6 on 4 advantage and keep firing away and he keeps stopping them and when he’s not, players are skating in front of them giving up the body. Inside 1 minute, Weeks on the bench. Crowder shoots, Neufeld blocks it, Rochefort has it, to Ashton, but Boutilier takes him out along the board and CapJack has it. Crowder with it as Nylund returns to the ice. Crowder is still with it, he gets it to Wickenheiser who shoots hoping for the Rangers rebound – BUT IT GOES IN FOR THE GOAL!! Tie game, 4-4, 51 seconds to go, Wickenheiser’s 1st of the playoffs! Then we have 51 seconds of no scoring – amazing. And as in game 6, we go to OT!!!
In 3rd OT game in the series, each team is 1-1 with Pittsburgh winning the last one, two days ago in game 6. Rogers wins the opening faceoff for Pittsburgh and he and Goulet work it in and Rogers fires off a shot that goes wide left. Rangers work it back up ice and Kromm takes a shot that Hrudey stops and hangs on to. Rangers win the faceoff and Trottier takes a shot that Hrudey holds on to. A minute of play, 3 shots, 2 SOG, 2 saves. Faceoff in the Pittsburgh end is won by Derlago. They take it out of the zone but Arniel knocks Rochefort off the puck and just like that the Rangers have a 3 on 1 rush! But the Arniel shot goes wide but after Pittsburgh clears it, Arniel and CapJack regain control. He skates through center ice, over the line, and passes it to Barr, to Arniel, to Barr – shoots low – GOAL!!!!!!!!!!! He beats Hrudey with a slapper and the GAME IS OVER and the Rangers move on as they win in OT! 2:06 into the OT
And Hrudey made 33 saves, most of them were outstanding efforts. But the game might have ended with the Rangers tying goal in the final minute of period 3. The OT – other than the opening faceoff, it belonged totally to the Rangers, they never gave up the attack or the checking.
|SERIES SUMMARY||Unbelievable 7 game series with some seriously classic Games. Hats off to Chris for a great team that took awhile to gel but once they did they were hard to stop. It will be interesting to see if Goulet’s 19 goals hold up as the top scorer in the post season! Who do the Rangers play next?|
- 1984-1985 SEMI-FINAL PLAYOFFS
- 1985 WALES CONFERENCE SEMI-FINAL