As legend has it, Rip Van Winkle slept for 20 years in New York’s Catskill Mountains before his wife finally awakened him and Rip blinked, “Just five more minutes!”
By contrast, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby had been snoozing through 19 playoff games with but a single goal. That was the situation … until Game 2 Saturday when Crosby found his scoring touch against the Blueshirts and tallied twice.
Uh-oh. Sidney is wide awake and there may be more trouble for the Rangers in the Steel City Monday night.
Yes, sir, the Pens’ top gun is firing on all cylinders. More bad news; his team heads home with the Pittsburgh-New York series tied at one and the Rangers stunned to the core over their 4-3 loss Saturday night at The Garden.
Imagine if the other slumbering Penguin, playoff-scoreless Evgeni Malkin, opens his eyes, finds his scoring stick and does a reasonable facsimile of Sid-The-Not-So-Kid in Game 3 at Consol Energy Center.
Pitt’s erudite coach Mike Johnston must decide whether he wants to unite his franchise’s Gold Dust Twins — he did that occasionally at The Garden — or spread the wealth in pursuit of the lead in this suddenly compelling tournament.
The other element Johnston wants more of is the peripatetic goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury. Coming off one of his most adroit seasons, Fleury has sucked up pucks as if he has a vacuum cleaner on his fat goalie stick.
What helps Fleury is that his captain is now making life easier for him by illuminating the red light.
With two goals on his first two shots — Crosby had only three shots overall in Game 2 — Sid suddenly found himself on a roll that he’d like to resume on his home ice. A hot Crosby could result in a cold Rangers team.
“Guys with Sid’s kind of talent,” said teammate Blake Comeau, “can only be contained so long.”
Looking ahead to Monday, you have to wonder when the Rangers’ power play will explode with goals. The home team had seven — count ’em seven — power plays to the visitors’ one at one point.
“We weren’t getting the job done on the power play,” said Rick Nash whose goal in the final seconds was essentially meaningless. “Now, [heading to Pittsburgh] it’s on us.”
That’s true enough but what do the Rangers have to do on the ice to regain the series lead? Here’s The Maven’s outlook:
- GOALTENDING: “Their goalie is seeing a lot of pucks,” said Nash. His point is this: get bodies in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. The fact is that Fleury has had to be the Penguins’ best player and he was Saturday. Henrik Lundqvist was not, allowing four goals on only 22 Pitt shots. The King must out-goal Fleury Monday or the Rangers may fall behind in the series.
POWER PLAY: The Penguins batted .500 (2-for-4 with the man advantage) while the Blueshirts had were just 1-for-7. “They clogged up our speed,” said Derek Stepan who scored the game’s first goal on Saturday night. “We were a little frustrated.” It comes back to Fleury who was their best penalty-killer. Solution: “We have to win more face-offs,” said captain Ryan McDonagh. Then there’s the matter of solving Pitt’s penalty-killers. “Our PK guys did a great job,” noted Crosby. “We were more aggressive.”