It’s time to put your big boy pants on Rangers and take it to Pittsburgh in game 4.
1 – I’m just going to get this out of the way and say that NHL officiating, specifically with this series, is an absolute joke. No, this isn’t the homer in me, this is the watching hockey for 25+ years me and seeing how abundantly clear it is how much the officiating has favored the Penguins. Whether it be the Kaapo no goal, the Trouba 5v3 call, the Nemeth gentle crosscheck, the Braun phantom call and the hundreds of other penalties called in the first of game 3 or the missed delay of game late in the third – it is crystal clear that the Rangers are not only playing the penguins but also playing the NHL. It has never been more important to do whatever you can to try and stay out of the box. You won’t go an entire game (let alone 2 minutes) without taking a penalty so the Rangers need to button up on the Kill. Active sticks, fill lanes, pressure when pressure is needed. Do what you can to stay out of the box but when a penalty is called, do your job.
2 – The Rangers need to continue to play physical on the Penguins. Reaves, Rooney and Hunt need to do whatever they can to continue to make life miserable for Letang, Marino and company. Every chance you get, finish your check and go get someone else. Give a hit, take a hit and continue to be a pain in the ass to play against. Every chance you get a run at a guy like Zucker, Rust or Jakey boy, take it. Zucker was a much needed boost for the Penguins depth in game 3 and I wonder what would happen if he was running his mouth while he lay on the ice after a big hit. Like Valliquette said, stay physical on Crosbys wings, try your best to contain 87 and make the Penguins go 200 feet.
3 – Igor needs to be Igor. We can all agree, game 3 was not the best for the Vezina favorite. He’s also a guy I’d never bet against and if the Rangers need their guy to steal a game, tonight might be it. All this talk that the Rangers net minder is the best in the league? Prove it. Also, just a side note, i would take Louis Domingue over Georgiev every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I can’t wait for a new back up goalie who can stop a puck that stays on the ice.
4- Maybe Mika will decide to grace us with his presence tonight? Zero goals in 3 games? That’s not going to work DJ. I couldn’t be more thrilled to see the Springfield Rifle Frankie Vatrano and next years second line center Andrew Copp rip it up, but for the Rangers to do any sort of anything in the playoffs, the guy making over 8 million for 8 years better start putting the puck in the back of the god damn net. He has been a big game player in his past and its time for 93 to start doing that, but this time for the Rangers.
5 – This might be the game that the kids line break out. It’s been fun watching these three play with each other consistently here and boy do they look like they’re enjoying it. Laf has been physical with a purpose, Chytil has been flying and even Kaapo has been mixing it up. The Penguins took game 3 because of their depth (along with the refs wearing black and gold stripes) and the Rangers might need that same sort of effort from their guys. You won’t win games with Evan fucking Rodriguez scoring 3 goals but you will if this line can pot a couple.
Looking at this series as a whole – the Rangers won game 1 and 2 and took it to the Penguins for a majority of game 3. This series isn’t over but if they want a fighting chance in hell, tonight is as close to a must win as it gets. Lets go Rangers. Lets go Braun. And to the officials officiating tonights game, if you believe in heaven and hell maybe just MAYBE you should think about that before making up some phantom call 2 minutes into the game against the Rangers — just a thought.
Here’s 8 minutes of Justin Braun to help you get through your day.