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Handy Dandy Playoff Notebook: On to Carolina

  • The New York Rangers are going to the second round of the playoffs! Despite trailing 3-1 after four games vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Broadway Blueshirts rattled off three wins in a row, culminating with Sunday’s Game 7 overtime win.
  • The team battled, believed in themselves, didn’t play the best possible hockey, but still found a way to win three in a row, and keep their playoff season alive.
  • Artemiy Panarin was the lucky goal scorer to close the series, and it was made possible partly due to an extraordinary performance by Igor Shesterkin to keep the Rangers in the game.
  • Come to think of it, it went just like I drew it up. If we go back to the last edition of the Handy Dandy Playoff notebook... “Game 5 was the Kid Line game. Game 6 was the Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox game. Game 7 represents another opportunity for individuals to step up, and it presents an opportunity for it to be the Artemiy Panarin or Igor Shesterkin game.”
  • Technically speaking, I said or as opposed to and, but that doesn’t matter because the Rangers are alive to fight another day.
  • In true Rangers fashion, Game 7 required the team to come from behind, and in the process they made NHL history.
  • There’s a couple things worth pointing out, and I’ll start with Igor.
  • Shesterkin had an amazing regular season where he started more games than he has ever done before. He played a marathon of a Game 1, backstopped the Rangers to a victory in Game 2, and clearly looked like he’d hit a wall during the two Pittsburgh games in which he was chased.
  • But to his credit, he rattled off three wins in a row, facing an increased volume of offense in each game, and held strong when the Rangers needed him to most. It was a valuable series of experience for Igor, and one he’ll be able to use to build off going forward.
  • Panarin scored the game-winning goal, but K’Andre Miller deserves an honorary assist. Miller scored the Rangers’ second goal of the game, and made a bigger play in overtime by driving hard to the net after forcing a turnover. That hard work put the Rangers on the power play, and the rest is history.
  • Another player who deserves some praise is Mika Zibanejad. Zibanejad had four assists through the first five games of the series, and turned it around from Game 6 on to finish the series with a line of 3-8-11 in 7 games.
  • Fox is 7th on the list with a line of 3-7-10, and he also has the distinction of being the fourth defender in NHL history to tally a point in each game of a seven game series.
  • Others notable name worth mentioning include Andrew Copp (4-3-7), Panarin (3-4-7), Chris Kreider (5-2-7), Ryan Strome (1-5-6), Frank Vatrano (2-3-5), Alexis Lafrenière (2-2-4), and the aforementioned K’Andre Miller (1-3-4).
  • Each stood out in ways when the team needed them, as did Kaapo Kakko and Filip Chytil even though they each only had a goal and an assist to their name. Braden Schneider also tallied 3 assists in the first round, and that’s a positive note for the rookie making his playoff debut.
  • That said, Round One is over, and the Rangers will face a tough opponent in the Carolina Hurricanes. There will be time to analyze and predict what could happen, but for now it’s OK to celebrate the series victory that was.
  • This team didn’t roll over and quit, and fought back multiple times along the way. Things certainly played out in their favor, but come playoff time the good teams find a way to win. The Rangers don’t need to apologize for taking advantage how they did, even if they made the series tougher than it needed to be.
  • There will be at least four more games left to play, and the Rangers have an opportunity to rest a bit, and rebound vs. the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina will be the heavy favorite, but at times this year the Rangers showed that they could hang with them.
  • With that said, let’s end this edition of the notebook with one final look at the final goal of the series.