Rangers get ready for Game Six at Penguins, Gallant hints at Motte return, No discipline for Trouba, Update on Crosby, Shesterkin up for Hart Trophy

With a day off before another do or die elimination game to be played Friday night in Pittsburgh, there was plenty of discussion from the Rangers earlier today.

After practice, Gerard Gallant spoke to the media on a few hot topics. One of course was the Jacob Trouba play that injured Pens superstar Sidney Crosby. He said they hope he’s okay and can return soon.

Asked about the status of Tyler Motte who skated, Gallant seemed optimistic. It’s possible that Motte could play in Game Six. He termed the key depth forward a game-time decision. If he is back, that could provide a boost to the fourth line along with the penalty kill.

The thing about injuries in the playoffs is nobody likes seeing players get hurt. Having viewed the controversial play several more times, I agree with Gallant’s assertion that there was no intent.

Frank Seravelli had an interesting viewpoint on Twitter. He also provided some better angles of Trouba and Crosby that paint a different picture entirely. It looks like a hockey play that was unfortunate. A tough one to call.

Not surprisingly, there was no supplemental discipline for Trouba. To his credit, he discussed it more at length with reporters. The main point he made is he was going for the puck.

“At the time, I didn’t know that was the play [Crosby] got injured on,” he said. “I tried going stick on puck when he was gonna shoot. But the stick kinda went between his legs and kinda hit his thigh and I kinda pushed my arm up.

It was kinda of a fluky play. It wasn’t massively hard contact. Unfortunately, you don’t ever want to see a guy get hurt. I don’t know exactly what the injury is. But I hope he feels better soon.”

Speaking of Crosby, the update doesn’t sound good for the Pens. Mike Sullivan indicated that he’s still being evaluated for an upper-body injury.

The Penguins recalled forward Radim Zohorna from the minors. That might be a hint that Crosby might not be available tomorrow.

As Gallant and Chris Kreider noted, that doesn’t change things. The Rangers still trail the best-of-seven first round series three games to two.

Kreider mentioned how hard the Pens have competed by bringing a strong offensive game to the net. That’s something that can’t be underestimated. In this match-up, all four lines have created and contributed offense.

In the biggest news of the day, Igor Shesterkin was nominated for the Hart Trophy. He is indeed up for league MVP following a special season that saw him win 36 games with a 2.07 GAA, .935 save percentage and six shutouts.

Shesterkin led the NHL in goals-against-average and save percentage. Having already been nominated for the Vezina as the league’s top goalie, he’s up for the Hart against Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.

Elite company. It’s special anytime a goalie is recognized as one of the game’s best players over a season. It’s a credit to how well Shesterkin’s played. He’s been the Rangers’ rock. The team MVP still has a big game or hopefully more to play in the postseason.

Gallant, Kreider and Trouba heaped plenty of praise on Igor. It’s well deserved. Considering how tough Games 3 and 4 were in the Steel City, you know he’ll want to give his absolute best to force a seventh and deciding game.

Whatever happens remains to be seen. I’ll have more tomorrow. Until then.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of Hudson administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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