Pittsburgh Takes Game Four; Are the Rangers Losing Every Battle Or Is Pittsburgh Winning Them?
A boring series? You bet it is.
At this point, it is safe to say that the game one overtime loss to the Rangers was the only resemblance of competition in this series.
Since then the Pittsburgh Penguins have won by a collective 9-2 score. They have clearly been the better team, they have had the better drive, and they certainly have been the more composed team. The Rangers have had 45 giveaways in the past two games; compare that to the Penguins 16. The Rangers have zero power play goals in this series and have had maybe two chances all series.
The problem in trying to break down all of this information is that you cannot get a legitimate read on how this series is being won and how this series is being lost. Pittsburgh is carrying the puck possession at disgustingly good levels, their goaltending has been great, and their team defense is frustrating the opponent.
On the other hand, you have a lame duck team that refuses to outwork the competition even when they have a man advantage. You have Martin St.Louis playing a perimeter game and Rick Nash playing something, I guess, but none of the big guns have made an impact. The defense has even been bad.
Girardi has now become a bit of a liability on the ice. He is being burned through the neutral zone and hasn’t been getting the physical match ups that he favors. McDonagh is apparently hurt, which if he is playing 26 minutes a night hurt it must be a hangnail.
Even Pierre McGuire called it out in the third period of game four with his ludicrous statement that “Evgeni Malkin could not make that power move past a healthy Ryan McDonagh”. This is total and complete bull squat. Evgeni Malkin has made these power moves on every defender in the league at least once and it has nothing to do with health.
We are talking about an MVP, Conn Smythe, Art Ross winner here Pierre, not some scrub.
Then we have Marc Staal, which is my biggest peeve of the series thus far, doing what he feels is fine. In three straight games, Staal has taken a shot or a run at Sidney Crosby’s head from behind. In game two it was a slash behind the play that the ref somehow missed. Game three saw a crosscheck, as clear as day, in front of the net. In game four, Marc Staal threw an elbow at a stationary Crosby in front of the net after the whistle had blown.
Nothing has been done about this and, unfortunately, nothing will get done. When James Neal pulled this crap against the Flyers he was rightfully punished; well, he was punished but I certainly wouldn’t call just a single game the right call. None the less Staal is getting away with dirty hits targeting the head of an opposing player. It is not right.
Staal is frustrated and taking it out in a way that should have been penalty worthy.
I’m not actually sure why the Rangers were even picked to win this series and yes, the majority of the major media sites (including ESPN, THN, BleacherReport, SB Nation, NHL (Official), Yahoo) all had a majority of the New York Rangers winning the series. They all saw the schedule and knew that it was rough, didn’t they?
Either way, the Pittsburgh Penguins have taken away any edge the Rangers could have had. The Penguins are playing fast, timely, within themselves, and composed. They Rangers might not have had everything going, but the Penguins saw that and pounced on it. They have the killer instinct again, the ability to find a weakness and exploit it.
Pittsburgh now has the mentality of a winner. They are confident and they are showing it. The Penguins right now are literally the antitheses of the Rangers. If it wasn’t for a sloppy first period in game one, the Penguins would have swept the Rangers.
Now, they have to end it in five games and move on. There is no reason to let this series continue for another game. The Rangers are just not mentally prepared to take the next three games in order to win a series.
Pittsburgh is going to end this series at home and the will do so in a similar fashion to the last three games. The Rangers have no answer for the Kunitz-Crosby-Malkin line, they have almost nothing left in the tank, and Pittsburgh is confident.
The Penguins take game five with a 4-1 win on home ice. The freight train that is Kunitz-Crosby-Malkin will once again tip the scales for Pittsburgh. Fleury was not happy with the two goals that he let up in game four and I expect him to have a huge performance in game five.