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Rangers Vs. Penguins: Summer Is Coming

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Notes from the Rangers Game Four loss to the Penguins.

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- Ever read Game Of Thrones? I don't really watch the show because they deviated from the books in the beginning -- major personal violation in my book -- although now that I know they did it because they're passing the books I might get into it. Anyway, I digress. Remember in the beginning when Ned Stark talks about how The Citadel sent a raven that confirmed winter was coming? This site has been sending ravens (yeah, we're the Rangers Citadel) all year warning about this. We were "too negative," "fanboys," "nerds" and whatever else idiots decided to call me in nicely written notes and e-mails. Welcome to the world of reality, peeps.

- The first thought I had when the Rangers went down 4-0 was "this is very similar to what we felt like in 2014." That team was also dead in the water, coming off a listless loss in an enormous Game Four and just had nothing. Leaving The Garden that night felt like a funeral, too. Two major differences: 1) The horrible passing of Martin St. Louis' mother provided an event that really bonded that room together. 2) That team was far more skilled, had more character in the room and was built to win. The 2014 New York Rangers would sweep the 2016 New York Rangers and not a single game would be in question. Maybe not even a period would be in question, either.

- The Rangers came out to play Game Four the same way they came out to play Game Three. Not a single adjustment. The defense to offense transition sill tried those long stretch passes down the wing, the offense was too fancy, they passed up shots and the power play and penalty kill continued to be a disaster. This looks damn similar to John Tortorella's final series against Boston. No adjustments, no accountability, a locker room that doesn't answer the call and doesn't hold each other to the old standards, either. It's a disaster, and it starts at the coach.

- That shouldn't give the guys on the ice a pass. Thursday night the Rangers best players weren't their best players. The first goal was a horrible Henrik Lundqvist rebound, the second goal came on a bad (but also very soft) penalty on Rick Nash and the third goal came off a really stupid offensive zone decision by Kevin Klein. Just like that, the Rangers were down 3-0 in a must-win game. If your best players are making mistakes it's going to be a problem.

- Vigneault's response to that? Nothing, really. The fourth line kept taking offensive zone draws, Keith Yandle wasn't playing every minute of the power play and the Rangers kept trying those deep stretch passes down the side. If the Penguins watched all of five minutes of film on the Rangers they would have mastered their system and strategy. Vigneault was more than happy to allow that to happen.

- Oh wait, I'm sorry, there was an adjustment. Kevin Hayes sat for Oscar Lindberg. Why is Hayes sitting? He's lazy, I guess. Not good enough? Not enough offense? What a joke.

- So Tanner Glass plays and, well, yeah. Clips Matt Cullen for a four-minute double-minor (to be fair the game was long over midway through the second anyway) after getting an offensive zone start down four goals and doesn't miss a shift. If Hayes or Lindberg did that they might as well head into the locker room. Can't have youth doing that, only trusted veterans can.

- Lundqvist wasn't good. The man deserves every accolade he can be given, the Rangers would be nowhere without him and if we're being honest he was unfairly asked to be a God in the playoffs for the Rangers to go anywhere anyway. He'd want goals one and three back, though. And it kills me that he takes these so hard because it sure doesn't look like anyone cares half as much as he does. Putting any blame at all on Lundqvist should revoke media credentials immediately.

- The offense has been a no-show three of the four games. Playing against a backup goaltender coming off an injury in Game Three the Rangers took 17 total shots. The Rangers backed that effort up with a six-shot second period down 3-0 (then 4-0). Derek Stepan and Nash have been the only top players to show up every night. Mats Zuccarello has been on and off. I don't think Derick Brassard played in either game at MSG in this series.

- The only thing Vigneault has done right in this series is give Brady Skjei massive reps. Skjei is playing against top pairings, getting power play and penalty kill minutes and is seeing over 18 minutes of ice time a game. It's a good move to get him acclimated to this level to help the transition. And he's proven he's going to be a real player.

- On the penalties, the NHL's officiating in this series has been an abomination. Nash gets called for an interference penalty in the first, then Chris Kunitz does the exact same thing (only worse because he cross checks Marc Staal in the back), pushed the Rangers net off the moorings, goes to the penalty box on his own and the officials tell him to go back to the bench. Kris Letang trips up Jesper Fast and the official watching it shakes his head. This comes after the Derek Stepan boarding no-call in Game Two and the Letang decapitation attempt against Viktor Stalberg without penalty or hearing. The Penguins have gotten, quite literally, every single questionable call in this series and the NHL has backed them. I don't believe in the conspiracy crap, but this is getting ridiculous.

- The Rangers play for their lives on Saturday at three. Is that going to be Keith Yandle's last game as a New York Ranger?