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Handy Dandy Playoff Notebook: That’s The Way She Goes

  • The New York Rangers last made the playoffs in 2017, and it certainly seems like they are trying to cram everything they’ve missed about playoff hockey over the past five years into one series.
  • Game 1 was a triple-overtime extravaganza in which Igor Shesterkin set a franchise record, in a loss, because that is seemingly how things go for this organization.
  • Game 2 saw the Blueshirts respond in a more decisive fashion, and the new toys from the trade deadline made an impact.
  • And then there was Game 3, which was only three periods in length, but each period felt like an entirely different game.
  • Period 1 was a tough watch, but if I am being truthful, I’m not really surprised with what transpired. And I’m not all that upset either???
  • The first goal against is a pure example of “shit happens.”
  • Luckily the Rangers responded, and it was really great to see Kaapo Kakko get his first playoff goal. The Kid Line was involved in the entire play, and Alexis Lafrenière set it up by making a smooth cross-ice backhand pass which Kakko confidently fired on goal.
  • The Rangers will need this line to continue producing if they want to be successful going forward, and here’s to hoping the line takes the confidence they gained in Game 3 and keep running with it.
  • The Penguins’ second goal was a bit annoying given how it squeaked through, but it is hard to get overly upset over power play goals. Especially considering the goaltending the Rangers have in net.
  • The third goal legit had me laughing. It was a “are you fucking kidding me?” laugh akin to Mark Hamill’s Joker.
  • And the fourth goal was a rookie mistake. Braden Schneider made a big oopsie after he got pressured by former friend Brian Boyle, and once again Evan Rodrigues was there to put the puck past Igor Shesterkin.
  • And that ends the first act of a three act play that was Saturday’s Ranger game.
  • The start of the second act brought some intrigue, specifically the introduction of understudy Alexandar Georgiev. Shesterkin was given the rest of the evening off, even though it was just a 4-1 game, and it was later explained that Gerard Gallant wanted to give Igor a breather given the amount of hockey he’s played already vs. Pittsburgh. Fair enough.
  • The Rangers took a bit to make their push back, but once it started, you got a sense that the game was going to end up tied sooner rather than later. Frank Vatrano picked up his second goal at 6:51, and Artemiy Panarin followed up 1:07 later. And just when the momentum was all on New York’s side, the Penguins started getting it back.
  • They went to the power play toward the end of the third, but their first unit was unable to generate anything of note. Kevin Rooney eventually made a solid defensive play which saw Kris Letang’s pass attempt get deflected, and it ended with Andrew Copp batting in a dropping puck as the net was being dislodged which in a way was a bit of a makeup for the Penguins’ first goal of the game.
  • The Rangers would get another power play which would carry over to the third, and so ended the second act of the game, It was at this point the Blueshirts had all the confidence in the world, and the opportunity to come out of the intermission still on the power play and take their first lead of the game.
  • But as well all know now, that didn’t happen for the Rangers. The first 10 and change of the period saw the game remain tied, and then Georgiev gave up a goal he is praying he could have back, and it is quite unfortunate given how well he looked in relief of Shesterkin.
  • Then there were two empty-net goals, the first of which was more egregious because it came after the Blueshirts did nothing off a faceoff win following a timeout. The second was scored by Jeff Carter... because that’s just the way she goes....
  • So to summarize... the Rangers lost Game 3. They went down 4-1, came back to make it a 4-4 game, surrendered a cheap goal to make it 5-4, and two empty netters. Igor got pulled, and the power play went 0 for 3.
  • When laid out like that, it’s easy to read that and go... wow this fucking sucks. But if you allow me to be a bit optimistic, because surely that won’t come to bite me in the ass, I don’t think Shesterkin or the power play will be as “bad” in Game 4 as they collectively were in Game 3.
  • We’ve seen Igor rebound from losses and poor performances all season long, and he had a strong showing in Game 2 after a tough loss in Game 1. The Rangers were in a position to win this game, and there are many things to be learned after watching the game tape. I wonder if Mika Zibanejad will take some extra looks, because he’s come up close a few times this series, but is still searching for his first goal of the playoffs.
  • If the pattern of this series continues, the Rangers will win Game 4, but it also means that at some point they will have to win two in a row if they are going to win this series. But again, no reason to look too far ahead.
  • Game 3 is a game that will be frustrating until the puck drops on Monday night. I don’t care how anyone decides to feel about it, but I personally think it was just a really weird game that was arguably a toss up, especially when you look at how the first two periods went.
  • We are going to learn a lot about this young team on Monday, and here’s to hoping that there will be some new bodies in the lineup. And I hope Zac Jones is one of them.