In less than an hour, they’ll drop the puck for a huge Game Three at MSG. The Rangers need to respond.
After losing the first two games at Carolina, it’s imperative that they come out strong and get a win today.
That means finding more offense. Thus far, only Filip Chytil has scored on Antti Raanta on a good pass from Alexis Lafreniere. That goal came early on in Game One.
The game they’re kicking themselves over. They led for nearly 50 minutes until Sebastian Aho tied it with 2:23 remaining. Ian Cole got the overtime winner.
Game Two saw both teams again clamp down defensively. There wasn’t much room for high end players to make plays with the puck. The shots and scoring chances were down.
As it turned out, a four-minute power play proved costly. Failing to even test Raanta due to lousy puck management and sloppy turnovers, the Rangers gave up a crushing shorthanded goal to Brendan Smith. It proved to be the game-winner.
They did have chances to score. Notably Ryan Strome. He couldn’t bank in one from am impossible angle. Then had an open net on a delayed penalty. But shot the puck right into Tony DeAngelo’s backside. He leads the team in shots this postseason, but only has one goal.
With the Hurricanes blanketing Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, Gerard Gallant teased line tweaks for Game Three. As usual, he did it with a smile and laugh.
What does it mean? Probably that the third line will be broken up in search of more offense from the struggling top six. What could I see Turk possibly coming up with? Lafreniere up with Zibanejad and Kreider. Either Kaapo Kakko or Tyler Motte moved up.
Frank Vatrano has cooled off after a good start to the postseason against the Pens. He can still be used in the top nine. He’s a shoot first right wing with speed. I also could see Motte being elevated due to his combination of speed and grit. He’s created some chances.
The game will be televised on ESPN at 3:30 PM. Roughly two hours after Panthers and Lightning which began at 1:30 on TNT. Why would the schedule makers do that? I have asked it. So has JD of our chat thread.
He’s been on a roll lately. So, he makes the blog for a third consecutive time. Call it a hat trick! Exactly what we’re all hoping for this afternoon. Offense!
Whatever Gallant decides, it’s up to the players to raise their level a couple of notches. Ditto for the power play. I believe four goals gets it done. We’ll see if they have the resolve to make it a series.