By now, anyone reading this site is painfully aware that the Rangers were embarrassed at the Garden last night, 5-0 by the Penguins and now stand on the brink of elimination. Combing various recaps, Twitter, the comments section, etc., has given me a (somewhat frightening) glimpse into the current psyche of the Ranger fan community.
In seeking out a topic for this post, once the dust settled, I found myself coming up empty. I really enjoy writing “thoughts” posts, but I don’t think I could really organize my thoughts in a way that would make for worthwhile reading. I feel like it would just read like a laundry list of complaints.
Instead, I think I’m just going to write, and see what comes out of my brain that is Ranger-related and see how that goes. Work for everybody? Good.
Per Brett Cyrgalis, it looks like Eric Staal might be a healthy scratch tomorrow. Staal is not rotating with the top-six, and the bottom-six does not have him in the rotation. This could just be a coy maneuver by Alain Vigneault, however. The top-six are the same, and the bottom-six look like this:
If Eric Staal is sitting for Tanner Glass, I have no idea what to say.
The Penguins destroyed the Rangers last night before the first period was over. It was 1-0 a minute into the game. Then before we blinked it was 3-0. They added another in the second. But the game was over before all this. It was over before the Rangers even took the ice.
The Rangers just didn’t show up. They lost every puck battle. They lost every race for the puck. They gave the Pens room. They didn’t bother to try and generate offense. They just didn’t bother trying.
This game hurts as a fan. The players shrug it off as a job, because that’s what last night looked like. A job. Fans, on the other hand, this isn’t a job. For some, this is an escape. This is hope for joy. And the Rangers let everyone down. There is no excuse for this kind of effort.
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.
Yesterday the NHL suspended Andrew Shaw one game, fined him $5,000, and mandated sensitivity training for his use of a homophobic slur during Game 4 of the Chicago Blackhawks/St. Louis Blues first round playoff matchup. With regards to the suspension, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said, “While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions. The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player.”
I wanted to address this incident because I did not want to remain silent and have that silence misconstrued as any kind of ambivalence or apathy. What Shaw said was unacceptable on a basic societal level, and more specifically within the context of our beloved game. Shaw’s transgression concerns all of us because the hockey community is something shared that we are all stewards of, and if anyone in our community is made to feel unsafe or unwelcome we are all in some way responsible. I’ve always found joy, meaning, and at times refuge in the great game of hockey, and it pains me to think that a love of hockey might be foreclosed for some because of the words or actions of another.
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.
– That was a tough, tough loss. When Chris Kreider’s goal was called back, it seemed like a lot of wind was taken out of the team’s sails and the Rangers couldn’t recover. The Blueshirts battled tooth and nail all night, but they had a very difficult time gaining the offensive zone and creating any sustained pressure.
– That said, I’m far from panicking. Despite what many believed heading into the series, there’s not much separating these teams. I expect New York to come out flying in Game Four and send the teams back to Pittsburgh tied 2-2.
– Can the Rangers give Brady Skjei a real number? The kid might already be the team’s fourth-best defenseman after Ryan McDonagh, Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein. He’s been a savior on the blueline and has demonstrated remarkable poise with the puck and compete level. Between him and Pavel Buchnevich, I have a hard time listening to the annual panic about the window closing. Will the team be different next year? Sure. But if the organization makes smart personnel decisions, there’s no reason the Rangers can’t extend this run.
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.