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Rangers look to even series at two at MSG tonight

May 24, 2022, 7:45 AM ET [286 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers look to continue the good vibes from Sunday and even their series against the Hurricanes at two. New York relied early on a newly-constituted first line and Igor Shesterkin throughout to notch a 3-1 win in Game 3. The home team has won the first three games this series, continuing a overall pattern for Carolina in the playoffs to date. Game 5 will be 7pm on Thursday.

A few thoughts:
1) Lines - does coach Gerard Gallant start Game 4 as he did Game 3 or switch back to the normal trios that we saw in the third period? One other option is additional juggling in an attempt to get the second and third lines going as the fourth line is pretty locked in. Gallant has a pretty significant decision to make, but as we have seen, this could change mid-game depending how the contest is progressing.

Sunday, the move of Filip Chytil to the top line helped unlock Mika Zibanejad’s and Chris Kreider’s game. Part of that was aided by New York having the last change coupled with the contest being more wide open than the first two. That switch paid dividends with the first two goals being scored by the Batman and Robin. But the impact to the remainder of the middle-six was negligible.

Artemi Panarin was a bit better than we saw the first two games but still not at his usual level. Maybe the conservative mindset he has had to avoid making a mistake - or least an egregious one - is playing on his mind more than we know. My view on this is that Gallant needs to empower the elite players to be elite and not lose their creativity or it will stifle their games. If Panarin makes a mistake, he needs to recover and prevent a scoring chance against. This happened in Tampa last night.

On the power play, Nikita Kucherov misplayed the puck in the offensive end, giving the Panthers a 2-on-1 short handed. Kuch busted his rear to catch, helping prevent a golden scoring chance by forcing Sam Bennett to shoot high and wide. That one play encapsulated the heart and desire of a champion and willingness to do whatever it takes. That needs to be the mindset each and every shift but also shows that elite players need to be allowed to be elite but make up for mistakes.

I would start the game tonight the same way Game 3 started. Then adjust if need be depending on the flow. Maybe moving Kaako Kappo up will pay dividends this game, the same with Andrew Copp sliding down. The fourth line remains the same, which might be key given what transpired as the buzzer expired Sunday.

2) Maintain your cool - Gallant and the Rangers were less than happy how Game 3 ended. Max Domi’s cheap shot to Ryan Lindgren’s back and Tony DeAngelo doing one of the things that he does best - chirp - were not well received. Gallant made his thoughts known rather clearly in the post-game while Ryan Reaves double down yesterday.

But the response likely has garnered more attention than the original act with the league office. Meaning, the officials will be on the look out to make sure nothing blows up. This could result in early penalties being called to maintain a semblance of order. New York needs to be smart and not get caught up in any of this.

Respond during the play and don’t take any unnecessary penalties. Hopefully the presence of Reaves will be enough of a deterrent to avoid any additional impact. If not, then retaliate in kind but don’t give Carolina any power plays that could allow the game to tilt in their direction.

3) Keep the power - special teams won Game 3. The power okay came through early when need be while the penalty kill shut down the Canes. Shesterkin was brilliant, as the Rangers slightly limited high danger chances. He thrives on the additional work, or at least appears to, but they can’t allow him to wear down as he did early in the Pittsburgh series.

The Rangers won the first 40 minutes in Game 1 before faltering. Game 2 they were outplayed but it was still a one-goal game. Sunday, New York had the better of the chances. When the contest is more freewheeling, it plays to their advantage as we have seen. if tight checking, Carolina has the edge, given their team make up. That’s not to say either team can’t win playing the other style but each squad has their strengths and the goal, like always, is to play to that strength.

Get the crowd engaged early. Make the garden a jungle, like it was Sunday. Get a lead and make the environment even tougher for the Canes. Win and send it back to Carolina tied at two and a best-of-three series.

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