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Rangers look to put stranglehold on Penguins in Game 4

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs penguins game 3 faceoff 4-20

The Rangers are hoping to jump out to a 3-1 series lead, something they have not been able to do in past seasons. A win tonight would put them in a good position heading back to MSG. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

In past seasons, the Rangers have struggled to put space between themselves and their opponents in playoff series, but they are presented with the opportunity to do exactly that tonight against the Penguins in Game 4 at the CONSOL Energy Arena tonight.

After a strong showing in Game 3 that led to a 2-1 win for New York, the Rangers and Penguins are back at it tonight in another very important game for both teams. A win tonight would put Pittsburgh in a stranglehold with the series heading back to Madison Square Garden.

Game 3 saw a much better effort from the Blueshirts, a game that was centered around strong defensive play, puck management and possession, and an aggressive forecheck which led to just 11 shots on goal from Pittsburgh in the first two periods. When the Penguins made a strong push in the third period, Henrik Lundqvist stood tall in net for the Rangers.

The Penguins will surely look to start the game strong, and will come out very aggressive. The Rangers will need to get out to a quick start again in the first period, like they have done in the first three games of the series. The Blueshirts have outscored the Pittsburgh 4-0 in the first period in this series, which makes sense considering they had a league-leading +30 goal differential in the first period during the regular season.

carl hagelin goal celebration 4-20

Carl Hagelin’s first period goal on Sunday was the team’s fourth goal of the series in the first 20 minutes. The Rangers need to get out to a quick start again tonight. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

 

As far as the Pittsburgh lineup goes, it doesn’t look like there will be any changes in the lineup. That means that defensemen Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot will not be back in the lineup, although Pouliot is “really close to returning” according to Pittsburgh head coach Mike Johnston. Taylor Chorney has done a solid job as a replacement, and Rob Scuderi and Ian Cole have done a good job with the increased minutes.

The Rangers have done a very good job of limiting the quality shots for Pittsburgh, and shutting down a lot of their depth players, including star center Evgeni Malkin, who has no points in three games this season. Although he may be playing injured, the Penguins really need him to provide production. Goal scoring has been an issue for the Penguins down the stretch of the regular season, and Malkin is one player that they really need to start scoring.

Kevin Klein was on the ice for the morning skate today, but was skating as an extra with James Sheppard, suggesting that he is out of the lineup. Keith Yandle was not on the ice, but was in the building this morning. He was under the weather on Monday, so this is probably just more recovery time. Expect him to play.

The fourth line, consisting of Dominic Moore, Jesper Fast, and Tanner Glass, has become increasingly more effective for the Rangers, with perhaps their best game coming on Monday night. Their forechecking pressure was remarkable, allowing them to spend a lot of time on offense, and pinning guys like Sidney Crosby back in their own half. Glass came close to scoring on a screened shot in Game 3, and it’s a matter of time before all of their pressure leads to a goal.

Mats Zuccarello didn’t crack the scoresheet on Monday, but he played very well for Alain Vigneault’s team. Despite his small stature, Zuccarello plays much bigger than he actually is, as was evident in Game 3. He led the team with eight hits, recorded five shots on goal, blocked two shots, and pressured Pittsburgh all night. Derick Brassard, Zuccarello’s linemate, said that his performance is evident of how a player can impact a game when he isn’t scoring. The Rangers will need Zuccarello’s aggression and forechecking to counter a guy like Chris Kunitz from the Penguins.

mats zuccarello 4-16

Mats Zuccarello was one of the best skaters on the ice for the Rangers in Game 3, leading the team in hits and recording 5 shots on goal. He should have a big impact tonight as well. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The power play was much better for the Rangers on just two opportunities, despite not scoring. Puck movement was better, and they had some quality chances. New York needs to turn this into a weapon, and start punishing Pittsburgh for being undisciplined. Look for guys like Ryan McDonagh, Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle to provide shots from the point and pressure Fleury.

The Rangers and the Penguins will faceoff at the CONSOL Energy Arena at 7 PM. The Game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Martin St. Louis

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on April 22, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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