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Rangers hand game four to Pens; Hayes a healthy scratch; Penalty kill back to old struggles

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Today's New York Rangers morning notes

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

It was the exact opposite of the performance expected from the Rangers following a game three loss. After stealing a game in the Steel City, New York blew their opportunity to gain home ice advantage by losing the first game at MSG. When it looked like it was shaping up to be a back forth series, the Penguins had different plans.

The Blueshirts suffered a 5-0 blowout to the Penguins on Thursday night and now trail the series 3-1. Some recaps on the loss [Blueshirt Banter] [NY Post] [Newsday] [Blueshirts United] [Ranger Rants] [NHL] [ESPN]

Receiving a little over eight minutes of playing time on Tuesday night, Kevin Hayes sat out as a healthy scratch in game four. Alain Vigneault opened some eyes by finally giving Oscar Lindberg a chance. [NY Post]

Earlier in the season the Rangers went through a multi-game trend of struggling on the penalty kill. These struggles came back to haunt New York on Thursday night as the Penguins were 3-6 on their power play. It did not help that Pittsburgh's talented PP quarterback Evgeni Malkin was able to find his groove. [NHL] [NY Post]

Despite continuing to be one of the Rangers' forwards ice time leaders, Eric Staal has yet to make his presence felt, failing to live up to his trade expectations. Here is Staal's stat line from his last four games.

Eric Staal's last four games. NHL.com

While Staal's stats might not exactly tell the story of his play, his numbers (or lack of) cannot be excused. As someone who gave Staal the benefit of the doubt after a mediocre regular season finish with the Rangers, it's hard for me to sit by and say he is still adjusting to his new team. If this is where he wants to be, [Sportsnet] he's going to have to show it.

Staal and the Rangers will have their chance to climb out the hole they have dug themselves during game five on Saturday. [Rangers vs Penguins coverage] [PensBurgh]