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Rangers even series at one on Goodrow's OT tally, look at Game 3 keys

May 26, 2024, 4:44 AM ET [269 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers evened the Eastern Conference Finals series against the Panthers at one with a 2-1 overtime win. Barclay Goodrow netted the game-winner for his fourth goal of the postseason, matching his regular season total. Vincent Trocheck scored the first goal and assisted on the second to continue his fine play while Igor Shesterkin made 26 saves in the victory. Game 3 is Sunday at 3pm in Florida. 

Game recap:

Rangers lineup for Game 2 vs. Panthers:




Scratches: Kakko, Wheeler, Brodzinski, Jones, Ruhwedel, Edstrom and Domingue

A few thoughts:
1) Lines: Kaapo Kakko was scratched with Matt Rempe sliding in the lineup in his stead. Kakko was last scratched in Game 6 against Tampa in 2022. I gave my views on this in the prior blog but will say I still don't love the move. Not the Rempe in the lineup piece but Kakko scratched instead of Jack Roslovic. 

With the change, Filip Chytil moved to top line wing with Roslovic on the third line and Rempe in the fourth line. Chytil, who played 20:09 in his first game in 13 days, had five shot attempts and might have scored the game-winner if Oliver-Ekman Larsson's posterior hadn't gotten in the way. In addition, when on the ice Friday, he had a 9-5 edge in scoring chances for the Rangers, according to Natural Stat Trick. Chytil is trying to learn to play wing on the fly with the move in general designed to lighten his defensive load while leaving him less vulnerable to open-ice hits as a center. To add to the complexity, he has moved from left to right wing these playoffs. 

Coach Peter Laviolette could keep Chytil there Sunday and re-insert Kakko for the injured Jimmy Vesey or move Chytil back to the third line with Kakko or Blake Wheeler sliding onto the first line. My guess is Kakko gets back in and Chytil skates on the first line.

Rempe acquitted himself well yesterday while seeing the most time on ice he has played in the playoffs and second most in the NHL. He did not look awed by the moment and provided a physical presence. On the flip side, as Vince Mercogliano noted, the Rangers were out-chanced, 6-0, with the 21-year-old on the ice, according to Natural Stat Trick, but he did have a noticeable impact with a game-high nine hits while avoiding costly mistakes or penalties. With Vesey out, Rempe, who got the crowd going everytime he was on the ice and saw time late in regulation and in the OT, should remain in the lineup.

2) Goodrow - after Jacob Trouba, Goodrow is likely the player Rangers fans love to hate most. His advanced metrics were brutal, which would only be part of the story if he wasn't making 3.64 million per season for two more seasons after this one. But in the playoffs, a player like Goodrow is almost invaluable.

He kills penalties, matches up defensively against top-line centers and is one of the top-two penalty killing units. Yesterday, he went 10-for-13 between the dots (77%), including the winning draw on the sequence where he scored the game-winner, while also dishing out five hits and contributing four blocked shots. Goodrow played a complete game Friday.

3) Vesey was injured on what looked to be a clean check from Ryan Lomberg. The video doesn't show where the puck is, but if just released, the hit is legal as it was shoulder to shoulder. Vesey certainly suffered from whiplash and maybe a separated or dislocated shoulder. He is listed as week-to-week, so he could be done for the playoffs. 

Lomberg is a physical player. He was running around hitting everything at the end of Game 1. The hit on Vesey was clean but I do expect some kind of response from the team Sunday to send a message.

4) Shesterkin was brilliant again. Beaten just once in the game, Igor got even better as the game wore on. Shesterkin stoned Anton Lundell with a blocker save in the third, then got the knob of his stick on Aleksander Barkov in overtime to keep the score at one. If - and yes, it's if - the Rangers do end up winning the Cup, Shesterkin and Trocheck have to be the two early favorites for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Keys to Game 3:
- More of what we saw in Game 2: Mercogliano summed up well what we saw in Game 2. "They made smarter plays with the puck to cut down on turnovers, looked more engaged in 50-50 battles and upped their intensity on the forecheck, with that assertiveness leading to more sustained offensive-zone time." In essence, the Rangers brought their A game effort wise. Granted, Florida carried play during the contest, but New York didn't give an inch. This is how the games likely will go. The Panthers dominate for sections but the Rangers parry every thrust forward and stay in striking distance. 

- Get the PP going:  After going 0-for-2 on the man-advantage in Game 1, the Rangers were 0-for-4 Friday. Florida is limiting time and space by getting aggressive in the neutral and defensive zone. New York has to dump the puck softly to the far corner, then get in on the forecheck. In addition, when they gain the zone, like they did against Carolina, bring Trocheck higher in the middle to create an off-man situation down low. Plus, shoot quicker to get pucks on net where Chris Kreider can screen or tip the shot.

- Weather the initial storm: Florida last played at home May 14. The Panthers crowd will be chomping at the bit to welcome their team and try and spur them to a win. I expect Florida to come out strong and attempt to grab an early lead to put New York on their heels. Withstanding that early foray may be key to the win.

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