Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final was much like Game 1, an absolute grinder as both teams struggled to find open ice. It seems the whole series is going to be decided by one goal games, as both the Rangers and Panthers are balanced with strong goaltending. Depth will play a big role, as Barclay Goodrow wound up being the different maker with the overtime winner.

Goodrow has been the center of many hot takes during his time as a New York Ranger. I am not writing this to proclaim that those takes at the time were wrong, or that they weren’t without merit. That doesn’t matter right now. The only thing that matters is his overtime winner and that he has proven why the Rangers acquired him in the first place. He’s a true 16-game player.

Teams need their Artemi Panarin’s, Vincent Trocheck’s, and Adam Fox’s to be a top tier contender. Lost in the shuffle is the guys that will push the team forward once they’re in a dogfight in the playoffs. These are your 16 game players, and Goodrow is looking an awful lot like the Goodrow that was on that famous 3rd line for the back to back Tampa Bay Cup teams.

With the injury to Jimmy Vesey in the 2nd period, Peter Laviolette had to make some rotations with his forward lines to distribute the ice time, and give the man his flowers–I have absolutely no idea what he saw in Barclay Goodrow to put him on a scoring line for a shift. But somehow Goodrow ended up with Trocheck, who made an absolutely gorgeous pass to Goodrow above the circle, and Goodrow of all people sniped the game winner past Bobrovsky.

Igor Shesterkin continued his amazing play in goal these playoffs, now going 19 straight playoff games at home without giving up 4 goals or more. It’s no secret that an elite goalie makes the overall job easier, but it is on the Rangers to make Igor’s job as easy as possible too. For the most part, the Rangers have done just that for most of these playoffs.

The Rangers are simply not in a position for Goodrow’s winner without Shesterkin playing the way he’s expected to. The only goal being surrendered on a Panthers power play was from a perfect screen. From that goal on, he never looked back and remained locked in all the way to the end of the game with a 26 save performance. The Panthers are by no means the Carolina Hurricanes when it comes to shot volume statistics, but Florida really mimics the Rangers where they look for and capitalize on their high danger looks.

If there is one takeaway, it’s you can rattle the Panthers. They took 4 penalties, and while the Rangers could not convert, they will at some point soon. The coaching staff to make proper adjustments after studying the film on this game. Florida won the special teams battle, but luckily did not end up winning the game.

The fan in me says they now go to Florida after this and take it to the Panthers on the road in both games, but the reality is this series is likely be tied 2-2 coming back to New York for Game 5. This series was marketed as a war, and by golly do we have a war on our hands on the ice.

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