Who: New York Rangers (1-2) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (2-1)
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern
How to Watch: ESPN anywhere in America (also available on AT&T Sportsnet in the local regional viewing area).
Opponent Track: It’s got to be gut check time for the Rangers after a near comeback didn’t quite have enough in a Game 3 that will go down in the books as a poor one for them. If they can pull the split in Pittsburgh, it’s a best of three and NYR re-gains home ice advantage again. If not, they’ll head home for Game 5 with their season on the line on Wednesday night.
Pens Path Ahead: As mentioned, Game 5 will be Wednesday at 7pm, in Madison Square Garden. Game 6, if necessary, will be back in the ‘Burgh on Friday night.
Hidden Stat: Pittsburgh is 18-8 (.692) in playoff series all-time when entering Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead, which includes a 5-2 series record when starting that series on the road. (h/t Pens PR).
SBN Counterpart Blog: Blueshirt Banter
Game 4 Lines
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Frank Vatrano
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Andrew Copp
Alexis Lafreniere - Filip Chytil - Kaapo Kakko
Dryden Hunt - Kevin Rooney - Ryan Reaves
K’Andre Miller / Jacob Trouba
Justin Braun / Adam Fox
Patrik Nemeth / Braden Schneider
Goalies: Igor Shesterkin (Alexandar Georgiev)
Scratches: Julien Gauthier, Lauri Pajuniemi, Greg McKegg, Johnny Brodzinski, Tim Gettinger, Nils Lundqvist, Zac Jones, Jarred Tinordi, Libor Hajek, Matthew Robertson, Keith Kinkaid, Ryan Lindgren (game-time decision), Barclay Goodrow (week-to-week)
IR: Sammy Blais
—Sunday was a day of rest for both teams, mostly. The Rangers were off the ice and confirmed that fourth line spark plug forward Tyler Motte did not make the trip in Pittsburgh.
—The Rangers also indicated that Ryan Lindgren (who has missed the last two games with a lower body injury) remains day-to-day and to watch for if he can skate in the morning skate today in the lead up for Game 4. NYR could use it, as some of their lower defenders — namely Patrik Nemeth — have had a lot of trouble either staying out of the penalty box and or giving up a lot of scoring chances.
One area coach Gerard Gallant has liked is his third line, composed of young former first round pick in Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil. They’ve had some bright spots, including combining for the Rangers’ first goal of Game 3.
Coach Gallant on the #NYR kids: “I’m really happy with those young guys. We talk about experience - the way they’re playing, it hasn’t affected them one bit. They’re all getting better, they’re all confident. The growth in those players is really satisfying to me.” pic.twitter.com/Qxos439H5o— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) May 8, 2022
New York is probably going to need more tangible offense out of these players if they want to get back in the series. NYR’s best players have been their best players (Panarin, Fox, Kreider). That next level of support is right there in this line.
Up and Down
Now four games in, who are some of the Rangers players standing out in good and bad ways? To me, most of the top players have been as advertised.
Adam Fox, last year’s Norris winner, is kind of now an afterthought nationally, even though his season in 2021-22 (11 goals and 74 points in 79 games) is probably even better than it was in 2020-21 when he won the Norris (5G and 47 points in 55 games). Fox has been on ice for 4 GF to just 1 GA at 5v5.
K’Andre Miller has been a real tower of power on the back-end with two assists in the three games and averaging 29:13 in the three games (that 3OT game throws everything off still). Miller has been on ice for 4 Rangers goals, to only 2 against at 5v5.
On the downward slope, Nemeth has been a disaster, and youngster Braden Schneider have struggled mightily. The Rangers’ fourth line has also been badly out-chanced and run off the ice aside from a hot start in the first period of the first game.
And now for the Pens..
Jake Guentzel - Sidney Crosby - Bryan Rust
Danton Heinen - Evgeni Malkin - Kasperi Kapanen
Jason Zucker - Jeff Carter - Brock McGinn
Brian Boyle - Teddy Blueger - Evan Rodrigues
Mike Matheson / Kris Letang
Marcus Pettersson / John Marino
Mark Friedman / Chad Ruhwedel
Goalies: Louis Domingue (Alex D’Orio)
Scratches: Drew O’Connor, Tristan Jarry (foot), Nathan Beaulieu, Rickard Rakell (day-to-day), Casey DeSmith (out for the season), Brian Dumoulin (day-to-day)
—Like the Rangers, the Pens were given the day off the ice on Sunday to recoup and recover for tonight’s game. Coach Mike Sullivan said that Rakell was the only player who got some on ice work yesterday, which seems to be a nice sign. Given the nature of a (possible) concussion, it remains to be seen when Rakell is able to make it through protocol, but at least he’s been well enough to get on the ice regularly over these last few days.
—And that includes Tristan Jarry, who was said to have a planned day off yesterday. Who knows what that says about Jarry’s current status, he has only been on the ice for one day (Saturday) so far in his recovery. There were some outside whispers that he might be targeting or hopeful for a possible Game 5 return on Wednesday in New York, but the clock is ticking loudly. Jarry skated again on his own Monday morning, but has yet to face shots against him. (Update: Jarry did take a few controlled shots from goalie coach Andy Chiodo on Monday).
Random fun facts
A lot of trivia to get to today:
- With 127 career playoff assists, Crosby is now tied with Jari Kurri for 7th place all-time in NHL playoff helpers. Crosby is one behind Doug Gilmour and only two behind Nicklas Lidstrom in 5th place.
- Crosby now sits in 6th place in career playoff points (197). Next up on his list is the great Jaromir Jagr (201).
- Mike Sullivan (43) has tied Dan Bylsma for most playoff wins all-time for a Penguin coach.
- Evan Rodrigues’ three point period in Game 3 was impressive. The only Penguin player to ever have more points in a period is Mario Lemieux, who has two four-point playoff periods on his belt (1989 and 1992).
- The Pens’ record in the first round series of the playoffs is 19-14....Which seems really odd to believe that almost half the franchise’s playoff history is in the Crosby era, but here we are.
- Pittsburgh’s all-time record at PPG Paints Arena in the playoffs is now 32-27