Rangers Recap and Thoughts: Game 4

WHAT A WIN!!! That is how you play New York Rangers Hockey!!!!

I was pretty nervous for the entire third period,, especially after the game 2 debacle. Hank stood up and once again was the best player on the ice and was spectacular the whole game. He stood on his head in the 3rd period clinching the 2-1 victory.

In my opinion, the Rangers completely outplayed the Habs throughout the game. They controlled play in the offensive zone and locked shit down in the neutral and defensive zones, exactly like game 1 and 2.

There were a few moments where I was extremely nervous (couple scrums in front of the net and the Shea Weber clapper off the post), but Hank again and again answered the bell.

The tone of this game was COMPLETELY different than game 3. Game 3 was a complete embarrassment. There was no jump, no aggression, no emotion and the Garden crowd reflected that. Game 4 was the opposite, lot of aggression, lots of emotion, a LOUD Garden and a lot of hitting. I don’t think a physical series fits the Rangers playing style but in game 4 it worked. The game was extremely chippy and physical, normally that would lead to a lot of penalties but the refs swallowed their whistles and let the boys play. Credit to the Rangers for stepping up and for also not taking dumb penalties (obviously the refs had a lot to do with that as there were about 10 different times I thought a penalty should’ve been called on either squad).

McD and Nash were unbelievable. McD played like the top defenseman that Ranger fans know he is, controlling play in the defensive zone and being patient and smart in the offensive zone. His assist to Nash was a thing of beauty, it was patience and skill personified.  Nash drove to the net and was in front of Price all game. His first “goal” was a result of him driving to the net and his second (and one that counted) was right there as well. This Nash is completely different than ones in playoffs past, he is now using his size instead of relying on trying to rip a wrist shot from 20 feet away. I remember seeing Nash last year come down the right side and try and pick a corner, this Nash drives to the front of the net, creating more opportunities. Nash is the best forward on the ice in this series.

Zibby and Step played well up the middle, though Step needs to win some more faceoffs. He got worked in the faceoff circle winning only 27% of draws, not good. Step will need to step that up in game 5. The Habs have a clear advantag in the faceoff circle, but the Rangers need to mitigate that advantage as best they can.

Brendan Smith is playing exceptionally well. I was a little hesitant when that trade was made, but he has quickly shut me up and made me into a Smith fan. The guy was hitting everyone out there and was our second best defenseman on the night, in my opinion.

What else can you say about Brady Skjei? He is quickly developing into a top pairing defenseman. He has learned from his mistakes from earlier this year and has stopped taking dumb penalties. I am loving his development and hoping that he gets more than 18 minutes a night. I think if he should be getting 20 minutes a night while limiting Staal and Girardi to 19.

Zucc was all over the ice once again, and this time didn’t get called for some shitty penalties. He is one of the best forecheckers in the offensive zone and is so creative with the puck, look for him to get an assist or a goal in game 5.

Kreider needs improvement,. He played well this year but that hasn’t translated to the playoffs, yet. I would like to see him drive to the net and get in the dirty areas. If he plays like he did in the regular season, watch out.

Nick Holden needs to figure it out. He played really well for a stretch of time in January and February but his played has really diminished. He only got less than 15 minutes of ice time so clearly AV is recognizing his deficiencies.

I really like the forecheck and clogging up the neutral zone, if they keep up that same style of play then I think they can take game 5. The style of play seemed a lot different than game 3, maybe it was the aggression, but I think it was a coaching change. The Rangers clogged up the neutral zone, not allowing Montreal to gain speed into the offensive zone. They also dumped the puck a lot more effectively than in game 3. They didn’t let Price play the puck and they didn’t get shut down at the Montreal blue line. I’m not sure about the shift length, but it seemed that the Rangers weren’t getting short-shifted this time, leading to more pressure on the forecheck.

On to game 5, LET’s GO RANGERS!!!!

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