NEWARK, NJ - MAY 19: Chris Kreider #20 and Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers celebrate Kreider's third period goal in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
- It's games like this that really make you realize just how many different players have stepped up for the New York Rangers throughout these playoffs and the regular season. First, Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh are the two most important Rangers on the ice in the first period, both making some remarkable plays to keep the game tied at 0-0. The penalty kill unit comes up big in the second period for the Rangers to keep the score tied at 0-0. And then finally, Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan come through in the third period to give the Rangers a critical Game 3 victory. That's what I've been saying from the beginning. There is no one player who consistently steps up and is the hero, it's been everyone, and that's why the Rangers are where they are.
- Speaking of Lundqvist, my word he was brilliant again Saturday night. Simply brilliant. The save he made on Ilya Kovalchuk when he was in all alone, the diving glove/arm save (although that puck might have squeezed wide if Lundqvist was't there) was spectacular. The other series of glove saves he made throughout the third period were equally jaw-dropping and equally important. He has been so good this season. So good. As in, find a positive adjective to describe his play and you wouldn't be giving him enough credit. That good. And they have needed him to be.
Join me after the jump for more.
- Chris Kreider is doing such remarkable things this postseason it's almost unbelievable. Saturday afternoon he scored his fifth goal of the playoffs (an NHL record for most goals by a player in the playoffs before playing in a regular season game), which was his third goal in three games and also happened to set a record for points (seven) by an NHL player in the playoffs before playing in a regular season game. He's score in every game against the New Jersey Devils in this series. Every goal has been a big one, although the Rangers couldn't hold onto the lead he gave them in Game 2. What he is doing in these playoffs is insanity. It really is. The kid just turned 21, has never seen a regular season game before and this is how he plays? He's gotten better as the pressure has risen. Simple as that. He's special, a very special player, and will be for a very long time.
- Once again, McDonagh was a huge factor in the win. If we're going to give Kreider credit for getting better and better as the playoffs have worn on, then we have to give McDonagh the same props. Yes, Kreider is a rookie who first experienced NHL action in the playoffs, but McDonagh has been solid all year. He's another reason why the Rangers are doing what they're doing. And he's another guy who will be doing it for the Rangers for a very long time.
- I though Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards were great today. As was Girardi, who scored his third game winning goal of these playoffs -- he only has three goals to boot. Gaborik used his speed and really seemed like he wanted to shake his performance from Game 2, it worked. Richards also won the draw that lead to the Girardi goal.
- Going back to Kreider and McDonagh, what a brilliant play for the goal. Kreider circling in front of the net (which he does a lot. And go figure, he scores goal because of it too. A lot of them.) right before the shot and putting a pretty little deflection on the puck for a much-needed insurance goal for the Rangers. Again, just wow.
- So much for the "Protect the Red," even Martin Brodeur made a comment about how many Rangers fans were in the crowd.
- As for Brandon Prust, he's going to get suspended, and he deserves it. I agree, there's been no precedent this postseason and that hit wasn't worse than what other guys (Alex Ovechkin, Shea Webber, etc.) have done without getting booked, but it doesn't matter. Prust deserves to get suspended for the hit, plain and simple. I'm not saying it was intentionally dirty, or that he was headhunting (he wasn't that's just a dumb comment to try and stir things up), but he deserves a game.