Down 2-1, am I worried? Ha! I laugh at that. The Rangers have battled all season long and there is no reason to think they’re done yet. The Lighting are the most beatable team the Rangers have faced yet and without some dumb mistakes this series could just as easily been 2-1 Rangers.
This team has been through way more than being down a game to a team that they clearly are better than when they play their best. This is the same team that lost their all-world goalie for over two months and stepped up and played just as well, if not better, without him! I said it all season, this Rangers team is all about stepping up for guys who aren’t playing, or aren’t playing at their best. There’s no reason to think this team can’t handle any adversity that’s coming their way. The Lightning are not unbeatable, in fact I think that they’re a more vulnerable team than the Capitals or Penguins. They turn the puck over way too much, they take way to many dumb penalties and haven’t been able to keep up with the Rangers speed at all this series. They’re getting lucky off some dumb bounces, guys slipping all over the ice (looking at you Marty) leading to breakaway chance after breakaway chance. Alain will have those fixed up real fast. I doubt you see one breakaway all game on Friday. Remember folks, this is a team that was down 3-1 to a Caps team that far and away better than the Lightning and the Rangers found a way. They’ll find away here, it’s a long, long series.
Right now the Rangers biggest problem is how bad Martin St. Louis has been. The Rangers need a finisher like St. Louis, they need a guy who can snipe a shot by the goalie so that they aren’t relying on bounces around the net. St. Louis is at his best when he just gets the puck and fires shots at the net, but he isn’t doing that. What he’s doing right now is over thinking everything. He’s useless on the powerplay because the Lightning, and everybody else in the world, know that the last very thing he wants to do is shoot. He wants to hang around and pass it of every time he gets it. It’s the equivalent to what happened to Jason Kidd when he was with the Knicks in 2012-2013. He shot lights out from 3-point range almost all season long and was a leader in the locker room, but towards the end of the season he lost all confidence in his shot and just refused to shoot, and when he did it wasn’t even close. That’s what’s happening to St. Louis right now. His problem is 3 inches inside his head. He has to change something and change it fast.
Let’s go to last night’s game. The Rangers came out of the gates HOT and quickly got up 2-0 and were dominating because they were playing the way that they wanted to. They were controlling the puck, setting the tone with their speed and finishing their chances, finishing their chances being the most important stat. The Rangers were awful around the net, squandering 18 shots that missed the goal completely. 18!!! That is unacceptable.
The Lightning got two back, one came about a minute after the Rangers went up 2-0, and the other one was scored halfway through the second period. That hurt a lot and lost really reminiscent of the Stanley Cup final last year. The Rangers came out every game and got up two goals every game, but never were able to hold the leads and it came back and killed them. Two goal leads are the worst in hockey because you think you’re safe when really you’re one bounce or one penalty away from an entirely new game. The Rags found that out big time last night. They went into a shell when they went up 2-0 and the lightning put up four unanswered, to take a 4-2 lead. I was in Bryant Park for the game and when the Lightning scored that fourth one you could hear a pin drop at the place.
When the Rangers were able to climb out of their own two goal deficit, they looked like a new team. They were fast again, they were shooting again, and they were scoring again. They got their swagger back. Then Palat of the Lightning dangled his way through like a million defenders and put one past King Henrik to put the Lightning back up 5-4 with only six minutes left in the game. I’ll be honest, I thought it was over, I didn’t think anybody was getting one, not tonight, but then old man Boyle comes in and decides he wants in on the action with under two miniutes left in the game and we’re heading to overtime. Sure, they didn’t get the outcome they wanted in overtime, but that’s what happens when you can’t put a team away in regulation, overtime’s a crapshoot, you get what you get. But that’s one of the biggest reasons why I still have 1000% confidence in this series being all Rangers, they refuse to lose. They come out strong because they knew they had to and the fact that they came back from two goals down to tie it at the time where they could’ve either lied down and taken another rollover game like game 2. That resilience is why the Rangers will win game 4.
Hank was awful. It’s okay, you can say it, he’ll say it, he sucked. He sucked last game too. He made some increadible saves tonight, but he missed a lot of opportunities and let up way to many rebounds and some of those came back to haunt him. The Rangers aren’t here without Lundqvist and so even tough some people (I used to be one of them), think Talbot should start on Friday, you’re in crazy town if you think that’s happening. The Rangers won with Henrik and they’re going down with the ship if it takes them there.
These were some guys who did stand out last night:
1) Jesper Fast- Unbelievable game from the rookie. 2 goals and he was in on so many plays. Fast was always battling in the corner and getting the 50/50 pucks the Rangers needed when they were getting pressure on the forecheck. That’s when the Rags were successful, when they kept the puck in Tampa’s zone and kept pressure on the puck. That’s what Fast took advantage of, he’d battle and then go to the front of the net for scoring chances, and made the most of them.
2) Ryan McDonaugh- The Captain called out his team after game 2, saying they had to play harder and stop taking such selfish penalties. Well, Captain Mac did his part. He tied up the game at 4-4 in the third period and also had an assist on the goal that put the Rangers up 2-0 in the first. McDonaugh has been the Rangers most consistent player throughout the playoffs and is is playing both shutdown defense and great offense right now.
3) Keith Yandle- Even though the Rangers have lost the last two games, Yandle has finally begun to make his presence known on the ice. He’s noticably more aggressive, and that is turning into scoring chances for the Rangers. Yandle had 2 assists tonight and would’ve had more if the Rangers took care of their opportunities. If he can keep this up, that’s a huge advantage in the Rangers direction. He’ll finally show us the reason we traded away a future all-star for him. However, Yandle also took a penalty in the second period that led to a Lightning goal so it wasn’t all positive for him.
Like I said, this series is still all Rangers, don’t think for a second anything otherwise. It’s easy to see what they have to fix for game 4 and I’m positive that if I see it, Alain see’s it and it’ll be corrected. They did take a few more dumb penalties tonight so that has to be gone, they aren’t watching for guys cutting to the net on the backside and it’s leading to scoring opportunities and Lundqvist missed a few that he gets 9/10 times. The Lightning won’t score six for the third game in a row on Friday, I’ll guarantee that. If you’ve watched this team at all this postseason, you know that when something is wrong, they fix it. 2-1 is nothing, this series is far from being over.
Rangers in 7.