A commanding first period set the table for a convincing 4-1 victory and the Blueshirts are a win away from getting the series back to even at two-all. Led by Mika Zibanejad’s best game as a Ranger and Mats Zuccarello being “Zucc,” the Rangers got goals from all four forward lines and points from 10 different players.
The game was another example of just how important it is that there’s an equal distribution of offensive wealth for this Blueshirts team. Henrik Lundqvist was not overworked and that will serve as a benefit the longer this thing goes. Lots of good stuff in Game 3, and the Rangers must take that good stuff into Game 4. Another day, a new game, and let’s remember it is the first side to win four that moves on.
At the trade deadline, the Washington Capitals made a deal to acquire defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis.
What does that have to do with the Rangers, one might ask? Well, what that move did was force the Rangers to make a deal to bolster their defense core and Brendan Smith was acquired from Detroit. Smith has been a tremendous addition. He has brought mobility, puck smarts and most importantly a bite to the Rangers blueline. An unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, Smith has done nothing but increase his market value and the Rangers are a better team with Brendan Smith in their lineup.
3 KEYS TO GAME 4
1. Quick to the Puck
The success in the first period of Game 3 was a result of the Rangers getting to the puck quickly in the offensive zone and not allowing Ottawa time to make a play. Beyond Erik Karlsson, mobility is a bit of an issue for the Senators defensemen and the Rangers must continue to expose that vulnerability by getting to the puck quickly in the offensive zone.
Over the course of any game and especially so come playoff time, where all opponents are of a worthy caliber, there will be a shift in momentum. It is important to manage the ebbs and flows of momentum. Then, to capitalize when it is with you. Keep the head above water when it turns against you.
3. Anderson Puck-Handling
To varying degrees, every goaltender in the league today will attempt to help the cause by handling the puck. Some are better at it than “others.” The Senators’ Craig Anderson would be considered one of the “others.” Being alert and aggressive when Anderson makes an attempt to play the puck will create opportunity for the Rangers.
Join Don LeGreca, Kenny Albert and myself for all the action of Game 4 tonight on ESPN 98.7 FM New York. Pregame at 7:00. Puck drops a little after 7:30. MSG Network will have complete postgame coverage!
Should be fun. Check it out.