It took a jet flight to Pittsburgh for the Rangers to restore a sense of normalcy to their opening round playoff series with the Penguins.
Now that the Rangers have savored their third game marginalizing of Sidney Crosby and his virtually inert outfit, there’s more business to do. Then again, Game Four at CONSOL Energy Center should be the prelude to disposing of the futile Penguins.
The fear of a Crosby-Evgeni Malkin pincer movement subduing the Seventh Avenue skaters was defused 2-1 on Monday night, although, New York domination could have made it at least a 5-1 result.
Unless the Pens come up with a “show-cause” order to counter reality, there appears to be no reason to expect this series to go –as The Maven predicted at the start — no more than five games.
If anything has been learned by the Rangers, looking forward to Game Four, it is that: 1. Crosby cannot carry his team alone; 2. Malkin has done three re-runs of “The Invisible Man Returns.” 3. Marc-Andre Fleury can play mighty good goal but he can’t score. Eventually, the Rangers find holes in his armor.
That was accomplished by goals from Carl Hagelin (first period) and Chris Kreider (second period); all that was needed to seal the deal on the game and very likely the series.
And if there was any doubt about the game’s trend — and ultimate result — just take a look backward to the first period. For fifteen — count ’em 15 — minutes the home club didn’t have a single shot on goal!
Oh-for-fifteen in the first period at home before a roaring crowd is roughly equivalent to the Square Root of a Goose Egg.
Granted, a late Pittsburgh third-period goal by Patric Hornqvist inserted some drama into this mostly passion-less play. If anything the Penguins’ close-but-no-cigar rally served to offer the Rangers a few lessons for Game Four. For example:
- LET MALKIN SNOOZE: If Hornqvist is the only Pitt goal-scorer and Evgeni The Absent continues to be useless, there’s no way that the Penguins will amount to anything but a bunch of soon-to-be golfers. In the final seconds on Monday, with a chance for a shot, Malkin spent enough time to waste a capital chance.
- IMPOSE THE NEW YORK WILL: From the opening face-off in Game Three, the Rangers swagger returned and — poof! — just like that, home ice “advantage” metamorphosed into disadvantage for the Penguins. The Rangers’ puck control should continue to be decisive as the New Yorkers enjoy winning on the road.
- DON’T GET SUCKERED INTO UN-NESSARY ROUGHNESS: All the Penguins really have going for them is rough-house play as evident after the final seconds of their futile last second attempt to tie the game. But there’s just so much a Steve Downie can do, especially when ignored. Ergo: beware of Penguin hostile carry-over on Thursday.
- LET GENIUS WILL OUT: The Blueshirts are loaded with creative talent as the Marc Staal set up of Kreider’s winning goal proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Minus Pascal Dupuis, Olli Maatta, Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff, the Penguins are starving for stars.
Especially when Malkin remains among the missing persons — even though a number 71 in a Pittsburgh sweater kept skating around, aimlessly.
On the other side, the Rangers rebounded smartly from the Saturday night Penguins upset and now appear on the road to a series victory.
“We defended a lot better,” concluded captain Ryan McDonagh. “The win is a great sign for us.”
Not so good for Crosby, Ltd.