The “Broadway Hat,”awarded by the New York Rangers players to the team’s player of the game after a win, resided in the hands of Marc Staal for far too long. After receiving the hat following Game One, the Rangers lost three straight games. After Friday’s game, the defenseman could not get rid of it fast enough. Stall gave it to an inspirational Martin St. Louis, who still decided to play after losing his mother the night before. After New York took an early series lead, taking one on the road in western Pennsylvania, the wheels had fallen off quickly and the Rangers were left on the brink of elimination after only four games. The headlines in this series, however, continue to confuse after five games as both the Rangers and Penguins fans have been left sounding a lot like Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell, questioning- “hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?”
Crosby has One Goal, Nash Still Scoreless?
The New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins thought they would need a big series from their two star players in order to advance to the Conference Championship. The Pittsburgh Penguins are winning without goals coming from their leading scorer in Sidney Crosby. The fact is, Crosby has not had to score goals in order for Pittsburgh to win. With the re-emergence of the talented Evgeni Malkin in this second round and the offensive explosion from Jussi Jokinen, Crosby has gotten it done through assists. Crosby may only have one goal this postseason, but he came into Friday’s game with eight assists. Malkin, after scoring a hat trick to close the Columbus series, has erupted again in this series. He has scored six points in five games (three goals, three assists) and, after turning into “beast-mode” in the second period, registered the only goal for Pittsburgh in Game Five. Jokinen would also appear to be a major catalyst in Pittsburgh wins in this series, as the Pens have won every game where Jussi has scored a goal and lost every game that he has not.
Rick Nash of the New York Rangers, although leading all players in this postseason with shots on goal, has zero to show for it. The chances have been there for Nash to put the biscuit in the basket, but he has failed time and time again to capitalize. The top line is still struggling for the Rangers in this series, but Coach Alain Vigneault and the Broadway Blueshirts have still been able to win games thanks to other players like Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello.
Heading into Game Five, the Rangers had an abysmal 0-for-36 streak on the power play, tying the longest NHL postseason streak ever by the 2007 Anaheim Ducks. The worst part about not scoring on the power play in that many chances is the Rangers also gave up a short-handed goal. So not only were the Rangers going 0-for-15 on the power play in this series, they were being outscored, constantly shifting momentum back the other way as the Pens would kill off another penalty. Thankfully for New York fans, the Rangers were able to kick that nasty habit by scoring two power play goals in Game Five. The fans in the Big Apple hope to see that trend continue on home-ice on Mother’s Day.
Fleury on Fire?
Not entirely after giving up five goals in Game Five, but Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did have two straight shutouts against New York in Games Two and Three, outshining the “King” in net for the Rangers. In Game Two, Fleury was practically a man among boys turning shots away left and right and ended up with a 35-save shutout. Game Three, however, was not as much about Fleury’s brilliance in net as it was more about the ineptitude of the Rangers offense, which only mustered 15 total shots to go along with 25 giveaways. The Blueshirts hope to see the Game Five versions of Fleury and the Rangers offense show up in New York on Sunday and force a Game Seven.
Coming into this Game Six, the Rangers are trying to avoid a series sweep at home to the Pens. Madison Square Garden has always proved to be one of the toughest places to win a game for an opposing team, but the Penguins have considered MSG home-sweet-home. As the odd headlines that have surfaced continue to surprise, making for extremely good fodder for “water-cooler-talks” at work, none of them will end up mattering. In the postseason, the only thing that truly matters to fans is not how a team can get to the ‘W’, but rather to just get the win itself.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
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