Well the Penguins completely shut down the Rangers in Game Three, allowing just a shorthanded goal to Rick Nash. Tonight the Rangers will look to avoid falling down 3-1 in a series for the third straight year. To do so, they will need to adjust their offensive strategies to account for the Penguins clogging the neutral zone and slot area.
More specifically, the Rangers are going to have to get a few dirty goals. They are a skilled team, but with the Penguins taking away their space to skate, they will need to just throw pucks at the net, hope for bounces, or bang home rebounds. This is how they’ve won in the playoffs in the past, and this year is no different.
Per Brett Cyrgalis, defenseman Dan Girardi will not play in Game Four. Girardi has been listed as day-to-day with an “everything” injury. Cyrgalis also quoted Alain Vigneault stating that Girardi may be out for the duration of the series.
The Rangers have officially recalled their taxi squad for the playoffs. The callups are defensemen Mat Bodie, Ryan Graves, and Chris Summers, and forwards Chris Brown, Nicklas Jensen, Jayson Megna, and Dan Paille.
The Penguins came into New York reeling after allowing four goals to the Rangers in Game Two and getting thoroughly thrashed in most aspects of the game. But coach Mike Sullivan adjusted, the Penguins shut it down in their own end, and beat the Rangers at their own game.
The game could have been much different though, as Chris Kreider appeared to give the Rangers an early lead. The goal was disallowed after the Rangers were ruled offside on the zone entry. Rick Nash later scored a shorty, but the goal by Kreider was sorely missed at that point for what could have been a 2-0 lead. Considering the Rangers got absolutely nothing at even strength, every goal mattered.
You have to tip your cap to the Penguins though, they really shut down the Rangers at even strength. The Rangers couldn’t get anything going, and it wasn’t from lack of effort. The Penguins cut off passing lanes, stood up at the blue line, and clogged the middle for their rookie goalie. The Rangers played well defensively, Pittsburgh was better.
Game Three is here, with both teams looking to take that all important 2-1 series lead. The Rangers have been dominating possession against the speedy Pens, playing a heavier game and neutralizing their speed. Their sloppy defense in Game One was shored up in impressive fashion in Game Two.
Both teams are playing games with each other regarding injuries. Marc-Andre Fleury may be back. Ryan McDonagh may be back. What we do know is that Dan Girardi is not back, and one of Dylan McIlrath or Raphael Diaz –who was just recalled– will sit. We won’t know until game time though.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to instill some humor on the blog in the stressful times that are the playoffs. This time, the laugh/smile comes from good ole Sean Avery. Avery, who hasn’t fished his skates out of the Hudson yet, apparently landed a role in Patriot’s Day, a Mark Wahlberg movie about the Boston Marathon bombing.
Honestly, I’m surprised that he hasn’t received more attention for his acting. He killed it in Avatar and Terminator.
The Rangers and Penguins head into a pivotal Game Three matchup at MSG with the series tied at one tonight. It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions, with strong play, poor defensive zone coverage, improved play, injuries, and poop-your-pants scares. With Jeff Zatkoff starting to look like the third string goalie he is, Rangers fans who didn’t think their team stood a chance now all of a sudden have some hope. So naturally, I have some thoughts heading into the contest.
1. Zatkoff was always going to be the wild card in this series. All goalies, no matter what level, can get extremely hot and carry a team. Look at what Andrew Hammond did in Ottawa last season. It happens. But there is so much skill on this Rangers team that if they do the little things in their own end right, they will feast on these kinds of goalies. Zatkoff played very well in Game One, but wasn’t perfect and was slow laterally. That was exploited in Game Two. The longer Marc-Andre Fleury is out, the better.
— Sean Tierney (@SeanTierneyTss) April 18, 2016
After spending all year as a terrible possession team, the Rangers are one of the best through two playoff games. Clearly they trolled us all year long. Their plan all along was to play dead, be seemingly out for the count, then wake up and tear apart their opponents. Well done, Rangers. Well done indeed.
Some good news for Rangerland today, as Ryan McDonagh was a full participant in practice today. He did not have a non-contact jersey, and he was gripping his stick with both hands. This bodes well for the Rangers, who could use a healthy McDonagh to strengthen their blue line play.
No word on if he plays in Game Three, but it’s the playoffs.
Raphael Diaz was recalled by the Rangers yesterday, much to the chagrin of many fans, as Dylan McIlrath seemed to finally be getting a legitimate chance with Dan Girardi out of the lineup. The hope was fair, as McIlrath really had done everything he could to warrant a longer look with the team. Alas, he was limited in his playing time in Game Two, and only saw ice time late because Kevin Klein was in the box.
This led to the speculation of the Diaz recall, and to be fair, Diaz is an NHL defenseman. He’s another one of those guys, like Matt Hunwick, that floats under the radar because he isn’t flashy or physical. He just moves the puck up the ice and starts the breakout. Couple that with his skating ability –which is significantly better than McIlrath’s– and you have a guy that is exactly what the Rangers need.