Don’t discredit what the Penguins are doing in this series by saying the Rangers suck. Because they don’t.
All that’s happening is that the Rangers are a one-dimensional team, and they’re a horrible matchup against the Pens like the Pens are a horrible matchup against the Flyers.
In Game 4, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin paved the way for the Penguins again. And again, it was Rick Nash slowly realizing he just isn’t capable of getting his game to that level. It was Marty St. Louis not willing to pay any type of price.
And for their efforts, Nash and St. Louis were booed out of the world’s most famous arena. As for Malkin and Crosby (and a rising Fleury), they now have the Penguins within one game of where they were last year.
But this isn’t all about Malkin and Crosby. It filters down. Brandon Sutter has been enormous in the role of the second-line center. The chemistry he has with James Neal and Jussi Jokinen makes this all work. Stempniak is showing a spark of offense on the third line. Gibbons is a dick every time he’s on the ice.
And the defense, playing without Brooks Orpik for the final two periods, shut down the Rangers all night.
What the hell are the Rangers doing?
- The Rangers had 25 giveways. 25.
- The Rangers had 15 shots. 15.
- The Rangers haven’t changed their lines. Alain Vigneault looks puzzled.
- The Rangers have now turned the power play into the Power Pray. They put up another goose egg and even decided to give up a game-changing shorthanded goal.
Game 5 on Friday and a chance to bury the Rangers. It’s almost a sure thing at this point. Rangers are done. For now, Game 4 recap:
This tweet was dropped right before face-off. It’s one of the strangest things the Internet has ever seen, which means it’s excellent.
Orpik was back into the swing of things, hitting Brad Richards and his teeth.
Then Joe Vitale fell on his first shift.
Fleury vs. Lundqvist
The fine line in the playoffs. The Rangers came out of the gates with some jam. They got some good chances on Fleury. They weren’t great saves, but they were saves Fleury needed to make, and he did.
But at the other end of the rink, when the loaded baked potato line got some action, they got a lucky bounce, and Geno did a mini spin-o-rama and beat Lundqvist on the backhand.
That is a save Lundqvist needed to make. The goal set the tone for the game.
Probably could blow up every face in that. Best picture of the playoffs thus far.
What a terrible turnover by the Rangers to enable that whole play.
( CBC showed that chart of goals MAF has given up in the playoffs. He’s been Thriller’d once over the shoulder, and that seems about right. Probably that shorthanded goal Columbus scored way back in Game One. )
It was pretty unfair with Malkin and Crosby on the ice. They weren’t even letting the Rangers play. Chris Kreider returned to the lineup to repeatedly give the puck to the Penguins. That line kept up the pressure until they went off for a change. Stempniak jumped on, teabagged McDonagh, and the Pens were going on the PP.
That PP didn’t do anything, and the Pens’ best scoring chance came right after when Beau Bennett was apparently waiting for an act of Congress to shoot a loose puck past Henrik. The King had ample time to get over and make the save.
Malkin and Boyle continued their mini feud.
The Rangers wake up
The Rangers’ only sustained pressure all period came with Scuderi and Orpik on the back end with Adams-Vitale-Gibbons up front. No real surprise there. It was shaky for a while, but the Rangers just couldn’t score. After a clear and a change, MAF stopped the music, and Marc Staal got a weak slashing penalty. Pens did nothing on that PP.
Rangers got a PP after a horrible non-call when Girardi boarded Kunitz…
Kunitz retaliated with some limp-wristed slash and went to the box for it. Killed.
Other stuff that happened
– Jokinen-Sutter-Neal continue to shine. Neal is due for a goal here soon.
– Late in the period, Lundqvist took a shot in the throat, and the medical trainer had to come on the ice and check him. Looks like that Rhino is finally wearing him down.
The Penguins lost Brooks Orpik very early in the second, and he wouldn’t play for the rest of the game.
Vitale fell again.
The game got into a lull, and then the Rangers finally decided to score. Carl Hagelin beat Fleury after Matt Niskanen didn’t see Hagelin get the puck in the neutral zone.
The Rangers got a shot of adrenaline from that goal, but it quickly disappeared because Malkin and Crosby got the next shift and had fun with the Rangers for the next minute or so.
Vitale fell again.
About the midway point, Crosby and Malkin were just getting so much room, and they were working. Letang jumped up in the play, and no one covered for him, so the Rangers went the other way on a 3-on-1.
How not to run a 3-on-1 by Rick Nash:
What is Nash doing? Hit the net or make a pass. Maybe Nash is nervous he won’t be ready for the world championships if the Rangers win any more games. Letang had to leave the game for a moment because his skate went into the post when he knocked it off.
Vitale line was on the ice, and he sucks. Rangers had a 4-on-2 the other way, but they wasted it by going offside.
No idea what this $2 bill is all about, but that woman doesn’t look like she gives a shit what any of us think:
Vitale fell again.
Malkin got whistled for a trip, and the Rangers had a power play. It would not end well.
SWEET MARRY MCGIBBONS. Letang sprung Gibbons on a breakaway, and he walked in all alone. He couldn’t score (hell, one of his skates almost fell off), but Sutter was there to follow up.
2-1. Monster goal.
The Penguins almost scored at the very end of the period, but Malkin hit the crossbar.
The MSG crowd had completely turned on Rick Nash by the third period. He was being booed with the same ferocity that Crosby gets booed in Washington.
Speaking of which…
Marc Staal cheapshot on Crosby
PUCK DON’T LIE
Marc Staal doesn’t play clean, so it was only a matter of time before he got jobbed. And it came when Jussi Jokinen harmlessly put a puck on net. It hit Staal’s leg. Sucks to suck. 3-1.
But that wasn’t the end of the game. The Rangers got a break when Mats Zuccarello put a puck on net, and it beat Fleury. Wasn’t the best thing to happen. 3-2.
Pens got away with one on the shift after the goal when Bylsma put out Vitale’s line. Maybe he had a gut feeling because it was really the best shift from that line on the night.
The next shift took the air out of MSG’s sails. Kunitz left all alone in front after Malkin swooped out from behind the net.
It was time for the MSG faithful to start packing it in. The boos came raining down on Nash and St. Louis. Vigneault pulled Lundqvist with like 10 minutes left, but the Rangers didn’t threaten.
- Joe Vitale. My God. We’re not gonna torture ourselves by watching all of shifts again to count his falls, but he flirted with 5 in this game. Too comical to even care anymore. When he scores a GWG OT and slides through the net this will of all been worth it.
- Watching Ranger fans meltdown over at TheRangersBlog is fun. [ NYRBLOG ]