Rangers On Brink After No-Show In Game 4

All night I heard people at MSG say this was the worst performance they had ever seen in a playoff game. I immediately reminded them of games 3 and 4 versus these same Penguins back in 2014. The games everyone has blacked out of their mind because of everything that happened after them. I remembered them being horrible. But I came home and read my recap from that game 4 and laughed. Because everything I wrote that night (which you can read here) is what I feel like writing tonight.

The difference is there is no miracle coming this time. Or I sincerely hope there isn’t as I don’t want any of these guys to go through what Marty St. Louis did during that series.

Getting shut out by the Penguins is nothing new. They did it twice during that series and numerous times over the years in the regular season. What bothers me about tonight’s game wasn’t the score. It was the performance, or lack thereof.

There are a lot of ways to lose. Would I have felt better if they deserved to win and lost? Possibly, because at least I would have some glimmer of hope that they weren’t going out on a whimper. And then they would’ve lost with pride. Yes it’s still a loss but it’s one that you can hold your head up and say “we tried”. They can’t do that tonight. There was no pride in that performance. The Penguins scored just 1:09 into the game and the two teams could’ve gone home at that point. The Rangers basically did.

Two years ago, I wrote the following:

So I know the next question is how do we fix it? Honest answer is I have no idea. I really don’t. But I don’t see the cohesiveness and closeness that I saw of teams in the past. I don’t see that “we are one” mentality that says they are going to go all the way. I don’t know who or what the problem is. My guess is they know what it is in the room and in the organization. I hope they fix it over the summer.

I could’ve written that same paragraph tonight or at any point this season. The motto for this years’ playoffs is “family”. The players talk about how close they are and that the team is like a family. I see it off the ice in interviews they’ve done and events they’ve attended. I haven’t seen it on the ice at all and I most definitely didn’t see it tonight.

It was individual players on the ice for 60 minutes. I’m honestly shocked they didn’t take a too many men penalty or play 20 seconds with only four guys on the ice. I don’t even know how many times I watched a Rangers player pass the puck to a teammate who had no idea pass was coming nor knew puck was near them after it happened. I don’t know, maybe the entire team is playing with head injuries and it’s not just the mainstay on the blue line that was in the press box tonight that has one.

I really just don’t know what to say anymore. You will see a lot of people saying “I told you so” because stats and charts predicted this would happen. It predicted it would happen three years ago too so congrats to them for finally getting it right, I guess.

In past years I would be upset or angry after a game like I witnessed tonight. Instead, I sat in my seat in MSG (the same seat I’ve sat in all year and every year since the renovation) and laughed. I was actually laughing the entire game. I thought it was so I didn’t cry but as I left the building, I realized it was because it was the only emotion I could find. And once the game was over I had no emotions left. Nothing. On my ride home I felt completely empty as if I just lost a close friend or family member and wasn’t ready to process they were gone. This team as we’ve known them for the past few years is gone. This emptiness we feel probably won’t go away any time soon. But when it does, it is going to hurt a lot. I guess we really are a family after all.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

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Rangers Can’t Find Offense In 3-1 Loss

This series has been strange. Typically I can easily recap a playoff game. For the second time in three games, I can’t.

I can easily write about the third period and how the Rangers seemed to drift through the final twenty minutes as if a goal would just miraculously appear for the home team. I’m not sure the Penguins played much better but they did manage to stifle any offense the Rangers attempted to muster. (To be fair, there wasn’t a lot in the final frame.)

And then there was the game winner. As I watched Dan Boyle and Keith Yandle collide in the defense zone, I had no words. You expect miscommunication like that from two guys who haven’t really played together, not two guys who were paired for 19 playoff games last year. But they collided, Matt Cullen said thank you and even though there was plenty of time, no one had a feeling the home team would get the equalizer. And they didn’t.

I guess I’ll try to do this one backwards as that was basically the third period. In the middle frame, you could almost see where this was headed. The Rangers didn’t play a poor second period, but having only 13 shots through two periods against a rookie goaltender returning from injury and having had only one practice in almost two weeks was nothing short of pathetic.

The good news is they did get on the board first. (Well officially, but more on that in a moment.) Just 22 seconds into the period, Chris Kreider rubbed Hornqvist along the boards and was called for boarding. He questioned it, the fans questioned it but to the box he went. (To be honest, from my vantage point, it looked like a penalty that is called when officials are actually calling penalties but it was on my side of the ice so I didn’t have the best look.)

Just 17 seconds into the penalty, we had a goal…from Rick Nash. No really, Nash scored. Watch:

https://www.nhl.com/video/embed/nashs-shorthanded-goal/t-280310054/c-43611003?autostart=false

That was some shot and got the building alive. Surprisingly the Rangers were able to kill off the rest of the penalty after that. Not surprisingly, they weren’t able to build any momentum off of it.

The Rangers did have two power kills over the first half of the period but weren’t able to do anything with them. Then with one minute remaining, Marc Staal lost Carl Hagelin and took him down to the side of the Rangers net. Am I surprised Staal lost Hagelin? Not in the least and neither should anyone else who has watched the Rangers for years. The hook, as they called it, was a little light though and many believed the ex-Ranger took a little bit of a dive. Again, I just saw him go down so I’m guessing the official saw the same thing I did.

When you play with fire, you’re bound to get burned and the Rangers did as there was a goal 18 seconds in. This time it didn’t go to the team in the penalty box and we had a tie game.

But what about the first period?

Well neither team really came out flying but both had some chances. Then halfway through the period, Marc Staal took his first penalty of the game. With time winding down, Conor Sheary high-sticked Dominic Moore and drew blood leading to 4-on-4 and then an extended power play for the home team. (It was honestly the best thing Moore did all game. I usually don’t like to call out individual poor performances but Moore didn’t have a great game tonight.)

Shortly into the power play, Chris Kreider scored. He actually missed on his original shot but somehow found the rebound and buried it behind Murray to give the home team an early lead. Or so we all thought. Immediately Mike Sullivan was at the edge of his bench calling for the officials and I knew we were in trouble. The Penguins were challenging that the play was offside. It was and we were back to 0-0 and the Rangers proceeded to have over three minutes of power kill time.

Side note: I understand why these challenges were put in place and while I do want to get the calls right, I’m not sure these plays are what the league intended the rule to be. (It was the right call.) That said, the part that gets me is how many goals we’ve seen called back due to minute offside plays. How many past goals wouldn’t have been goals if this rule was in place before this season? And how many of these goals will still be goals when they change the rule next year?

Anyway, the Rangers killed the power play and the rest of the period which led to a scoreless game after one.

And now back to the end and a couple of stats that caught my eye:

17 shots. That’s how many pucks the Rangers put on rookie goaltender Matt Murray. I could probably write 1,000 words on why that is not good but let’s just say, that was not good.

12:56. That was the amount of ice time Marc Staal received, least amongst defensemen. I understand he hasn’t been great in the series and was having another iffy game but that’s ridiculous. Somehow Crosby was still invisible most of the night.

71. The number of hits in this game with the Rangers once again having the edge, 41-30. It’s no secret these two teams hate each other but if this series somehow goes the distance, the Capitals will be saying thank you.

2-1. That’s the hole the Rangers now face. Is it insurmountable? No. And that’s what they said after the game. They didn’t play poorly tonight, at least not in the sense of what we’ve seen from them this year. But they need to play better. They need to get that playoff intensity and play with it every night. We saw them have it game two. Here’s to hoping they find it in game four.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Use Late Second Period Push To Tie Series

There aren’t really must win games at any point unless your team would be going home with a loss so I’m not sure I could say today’s game was a “must win” for the Rangers. But it was probably as close to one as there could be without saying it was one.

The injury situation for both teams was well-known (Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi and Marc-Andre Fleury out, Henrik Lundqvist and Evgeni Malkin back in) so let’s just get straight to the game.

With the Rangers shorthanded on defense and the Penguins adding firepower, the visitors came into this game with one idea in mind – if you can’t beat them, then beat them. Through the first twenty minutes, every Ranger made sure to finish their checks (and shockingly didn’t take themselves out of position to do it) which led to this:

I’ve always held the belief that you don’t want to be the team that hits more as it means you have the puck less. For some reason, it felt pretty even through twenty even though the hits were 22-4. Maybe that’s because Henrik Lundqvist looked like himself and therefore the score was still 0-0.

Of course that didn’t last long as the teams started the middle frame at 4-on-4 with Hornqvist and Mats Zuccarello in the box. I guess Zuccarello liked it there as he went right back in ten seconds after he came out, only this time he went alone. There’s only so much teams can do against the Penguins power play and the home team had the lead. And then the home team took over and it started to look like it was going to be a long remainder of the afternoon.

Then with seven and a half minutes remaining in the period, the Rangers tied it as J.T. Miller found a pinching Keith Yandle for the put home. Exactly 18 seconds later, this happened:

https://www.nhl.com/video/embed/brassards-go-ahead-goal/t-280291404/c-43547003?autostart=false

The Penguins challenged saying Derick Brassard was offsides. Only one problem? He had control of the puck so that wasn’t possible. The officials agreed after watching on their little TV screens and the Rangers had their first lead of the series.

Thirty seconds later, the Rangers were given a power kill. The worst part of it? None of the guys on the ice after two minutes realized the penalty was ending and Bryan Rust had a breakaway out of the box. Fortunately it was Rust and not one of their superstars. Even more fortunate was Lundqvist made the save.

With a little over four minutes remaining it was Miller again, this time finding Zuccarello to make it 3-1 Rangers. In less than five minutes, the Penguins went from looking like an unstoppable team to looking like…the 2015-16 Rangers.

Miller couldn’t keep up the good period, taking a bad penalty shortly after the third goal. Somehow the Rangers killed it to take the two goal lead into the third.

I expected a push from the Penguins while the Rangers attempted to sit on their heals for the final twenty minutes. Instead, I got a Chris Kreider goal 39 seconds into the period to make it 4-1. It happened because of a horrible turnover by Daley in front of Zatkoff but it wouldn’t have if the Rangers hadn’t pushed to get the puck in the zone in the first place.

Then came the third period I expected. Was it as bad as other times this season? Not even close. But did I feel for even a moment that the game was under control? I still don’t feel that way and the final buzzer already sounded.

To put the third period in perspective, the Rangers got into some penalty trouble, leading eventually to a 4-on-3 and a Penguins goal to make it 4-2 with over 14 minutes remaining. I wish I could explain what happened over those 14 minutes other than all of New York holding their collective breath.

I do know the Penguins realized that the officials had swallowed their whistles and took full advantage. First it was Kunitz with a dirty slash to the back of the leg of Marc Staal. The officials apparently missed it but Kevin Klein didn’t and came to the aid of his defense partner leading to Kunitz and Klein both receiving seven minutes in penalties. (I’d say that was a win for the Penguins.)

A couple minutes later, Derek Stepan went back for the puck to negate an icing and was shoved into the board by Ben Lovejoy. The officials missed that one too as Stepan laid on the ice and the puck went up the other way. Stepan eventually made it back to the bench, stayed there for a few minutes and then headed to the locker room for the concussion protocol he has to know all to well by now. I’m guessing he passed as a few minutes later he was back on the bench.

But through all that, the Rangers rock was a rock as Henrik Lundqvist refused to let another puck past him and the series heads to New York tied.

And I should feel confident with that as the Rangers really did play 120 decent minutes of hockey in Pittsburgh. I’m just not sure how much longer this will last. I also expect Fleury back on Tuesday and while Zatkoff was admirable on Wednesday, he wasn’t great today. (Basically, he was today what Antti Raanta was on Wednesday – he didn’t cost his team the game but he most definitely didn’t win it for them.)

While the Penguins hope to get Fleury back, I’m sure the Rangers hope to get some defensemen back. Both Brady Skjei and Dylan McIlrath filled in admirably but the Rangers won’t win if they are permanently in the line up. (I did enjoy the NBC crew continually mentioning the Rangers “two best defensemen” were missing.) We’ll see if we get any updates on either over the next couple of days. Until then, at least we know we won’t be seeing handshakes in Madison Square Garden this week.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Lundqvist Hurt As Rangers Drop Game 1

There are games, especially in the playoffs, where I know exactly what I’m going to write as soon as the game ends. It’s been almost 12 hours since the final horn and I still have no idea what to think about last nights’ game one.

Seeing Jeff Zatkoff come onto the ice for warmups with Tristan Jarry as the backup both excited and scared me. The Rangers should have been able to take full advantage of that but we all know how the Rangers play against backups and backups to the backup. Surprisingly, they tried. And these didn’t look like typical Rangers shots where everyone knew they weren’t going in. But, because the Rangers have no luck against backups, Zatkoff saved everything. Then disaster struck.

And this is where I don’t know how to judge this game. Antti Raanta was not the reason the Rangers lost game one. But losing Henrik Lundqvist is never a good thing. And once again, he was taken out by friendly fire.

I have nicknamed Ryan McDonagh “Captain Murder” because he (accidentally) hurt two of his own teammates. So I guess Marc Staal is now “Assistant Captain Murder”? I don’t know, I just know that the injury looked really bad and I’m just glad he was able to get up and attempt to stay in the game. Although I think we can all agree he shouldn’t have.

The first goal, to me, looked like miscommunication. I don’t know if Lundqvist couldn’t see it or was afraid to try and leave the net cause of the eye issue but Dan Girardi didn’t seem to expect what Lundqvist did. That led to a scramble and a few seconds later what felt like a back-breaking goal.

But it wasn’t as the Rangers didn’t wilt in the second period, which was a pleasant surprise to see. Of course things are never easy so again with time winding down, a flubbed point shot led to a breakaway by the Penguins captain and Raanta had no chance. (I would say he was the only one you wouldn’t want in that situation but with the Penguins, I can probably list a few others.) That was probably the back breaker.

And then our old friend Carl Hagelin tried to help us out. He really tried as early in the third period, he decided to swing his stick at the face of Kevin Hayes and in doing so, drew blood. (I’ve always joked Swedish blood brings the Rangers luck because in past playoff series, when Hagelin has drawn a double minor, the Rangers always score on the ensuing power play so just hoped the opposite worked as well.) At the same time that happened, Ian Cole felt the need to cross check Eric Staal in front of the net. Somehow, although after seeing the other calls in the game I have no idea how, the referees caught both and the Rangers had a full two minute 5-on-3 plus an additional two minutes of 5-on-4.

(Side note: The first two calls of the game against Viktor Stalberg were atrocious. The first Penguins penalty might have been worse. There is no way that wasn’t a make up call as I still have no idea what they called Eric Fehr for.)

Anyway, back to the power play. That was the game. And by some miracle, the Rangers scored on the 5-on-3 when Dan Boyle found a wide open Derek Stepan to get the Rangers on the board. They still had 2:58 of power play time remaining at that point. Get one more and we have a game. Instead a complete brain fart by Miller, Boyle, Yandle, Nash and Eric Staal led to a shorthanded goal against and the game was over. (Honestly, calling it a brain fart is putting it nicely. Even Vigneault commented after the game how bad the play was.)

I can sit here and say the team pushed to get back in the game. They didn’t not try but almost everyone knew it was over. I say almost everyone as Derek Stepan tried to will his team to victory by getting his second of the game with nine minutes remaining. But there was only so much Stepan could do and game one went to the Penguins.

Am I worried? I’m worried about Lundqvist. I’m not sure the Rangers have a chance in this series but they will have even less of one if he is out. The only positive I see now? In the past six series between these two teams, the team that won game one as won the series. That has to change at some point, right? And considering since 2012 the Rangers are 2-2 when losing game one of a series, now is as good a time as any for that to happen.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Sleepwalk To Game 82 Win

While no team wants to go into the playoffs on a losing streak, it was no secret todays game meant nothing to the Rangers. It reportedly meant something to the Red Wings, but you couldn’t tell by their play as both teams seemed to just want to get the game over with.

For me, I just wanted no injuries. But as has been the case the past few games, we again didn’t get that lucky. This time it was Eric Staal who needed help off the ice late in the second period after a collision on an offensive zone faceoff. I didn’t see what happened, just the aftermath of him lying face down on ice. After the game it was announced he was taken out for precautionary reasons and should be fine. We can only hope. I would feel horrible for him if he couldn’t play in playoffs.

Other good news? During the post game on ice ceremony, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Mats Zuccarello were on the bench and came on the ice to give their jerseys. McDonagh had his drapped over his right hand but the other two looked perfectly fine. Viktor Stalberg, who also missed todays game, was not part of the events but he reportedly will be ready for game one as well.

As for the game, there’s not much to say. Both teams played like it was game 82 and the result didn’t matter. Fortunately for the Red Wings, the Bruins did the same thing against Ottawa so they still were able to clinch a playoff spot. It was interesting in the building as a number of Red Wings fans were in attendance and kept trying to start a “Let’s Go Red Wings!” chant. You could tell Rangers fans were reluctant to stop them cause many were secretly rooting for the Wings.

On the ice, the most noteable thing to happen? With Oscar Lindberg scoring the empty net goal, the rookie can say he scored the first and last goal of the regular season. That’s all I got.

And so the regular season comes to a close. If the Islanders win tomorrow (as they got a point tonight), the Rangers will be headed to Florida. Otherwise it’s another trip to Pittsburgh. While most fans don’t want that, Marc Staal was right in saying it is really bad hockey karma to play to lose. Problem is I’m not sure they played either of last two games to win. Hopefully playing as if you don’t care brings them luck.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Lose Isles + Penguins In One Sweep

It almost looked staged, as if the Rangers agreed with the fans and some of the media that they should intentionally fail so they could fall into fourth place. One period of evenly played hockey resulting in no goals. More than half of another period with great chances but “unable to solve” the opposing goaltender. A shot going ten feet wide “accidentally” deflected into their own net, two more quick ones after that and then going through the motions in the final twenty. Honestly, it couldn’t have been written any better if they wanted to fail without making it obvious.

Do I think that’s what happened? Not really. But in losing yet again to the Islanders, the Rangers not only were swept for the first time in franchise history by their rivals but they also probably lost third place in the Metro and a trip to Pittsburgh next week. It’s not the worst thing in the world…minus the fact the youthful ignorance mixed with a couple of savvy veterans on the Panthers could be the worst match up of all for anyone in the playoffs. Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

I could recap the game but that first paragraph basically says it all so let’s discuss everything else that happened today.

First, the newest injury update. While no one would’ve been completely surprised to see Dan Girardi somehow on the ice for practice this morning, it wasn’t all that shocking he wasn’t. After practice, Vigneault gave some possible good news:

I agree with Larry Brooks when he said there is no reason for Girardi to play on Saturday but the fact they are saying “day to day” instead of “out indefinitely” could be a good sign. I say could because you have to take all injury updates with a grain of salt during this time of year. Remember, we all thought there was a chance Zuccarello would play again last season and later found out there was no way that was happening. But let’s hope the iron man is well enough to be on the ice for the post game events on Saturday afternoon.

And in even better injury related news, no one got hurt against the Islanders tonight. There were close calls but to everyone’s knowledge, the team thankfully came out in one piece.

In other news, a couple of team awards were announced today.

Earlier in the day, the team announced that Henrik Lundqvist had been voted as Team MVP by the media while the players voted for Jesper Fast as the Player’s Player award.

Lundqvist being MVP is no surprise – when there is no clear MVP, just go with the goaltender. I’m going to assume that was the thinking of most of the writers who voted for that. But Fast being the players pick was a nice surprise. Vigneault has said that players like playing with him and he honestly was my MVP vote for the season. It’s just nice to see him get the recognition.

Speaking of the fans’ MVP vote, before tonight’s game Steven McDonald was on-hand to award the Extra Effort award. It’s always a highlight of the season as the ex-police officer always leaves the team and fans with words of wisdom. Tonight he started by asking “Are we ready to chase Lord Stanley’s Cup?”. The fans are, I just hope the players are as well.

He then went on to say that we all know “…there are no easy victories. That’s how they play the game. That’s how we live our lives. That’s how we like it.” Rangers fans probably don’t like it but we know there are no easy victories, and I expect that to be written on top of the Stanley Cup puzzle placed in the locker room next week.

As I previously stated, my vote had been for Fast. Since there was no clear cut favorite, the fans went with a fan favorite meaning it was no surprise to see Mats Zuccarello take the award again. I can’t really argue with the pick as he’s had a good year.

While the entire ceremony wasn’t as inspiring as previous years, the one thing that stuck with me was how he repeated there were no easy victories. The players know this all too well and learned it again tonight. Hopefully they will be able to gut out 16 more wins starting next week.

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)

Rangers Flip Script With Third Period Comeback

When I saw this game on the schedule, I thought maybe by April I would be over the bitterness of last May and therefore be able to handle seeing the Tampa Bay Lightning on MSG ice. Well, there’s always next season.

I make it no secret my feelings towards the Penguins and Canadiens. That said, I screamed more at the visitors tonight than I ever have at those two teams. I mean, they gave me plenty of reasons to do so but still not something I’m entirely proud of.

There’s a lot to get to so we’ll deal with Tampa in a minute. First, to the surprise of no one, Ryan McDonagh missed tonight’s game and was ruled out of the rest of the regular season with an “upper body injury”. He broke his hand. Every single person who saw the play knows what happened. There is no reason to be secretive about this. You don’t want to say how bad the break is, fine. But the team looks ridiculous calling it an undisclosed upper body injury.

Fortunately we have Larry Brooks who always manages to get the details:

“…sources have told The Post that McDonagh could very well be sidelined for at least the opening games(s) of the first round with what is believed a small fracture of the right hand the captain sustained blocking a Brandon Dubinsky shot at 14:47 of the first period of the Blueshirts’ playoff-clinching 4-2 victory in Columbus on Monday.”

That sounds about right. Hopefully it’s only a couple of games.

In his place, the Rangers recalled rookie Brady Skjei. By doing so, they were also able to give Dan Boyle a rest and allow Dylan McIlrath to get a game in as well. Both rookies weren’t great tonight but hopefully they will be able to get better the more they play. Vigneault also finally allowed Oscar Lindberg back in the lineup, giving Kevin Hayes the night off. (If the team had clinched earlier, those last two moves would’ve been made already.) For some reason, Henrik Lundqvist started in net. He’s the only reason the Rangers had a chance to come back in this game.

As for the first period, this quote says it best:

We’ll just leave it at that.

Oh and Tanner Glass got thrown for a late hit on Namestnikov. Depending on which side you look at will depend if a suspension is expected. I’m not even going to begin to guess. From replays I’ve seen, while Namestnikov was admiring his pass, the hit was late and may have been blindside so probably not good for Glass. Fortunately the Tampa power play is worse than most Rangers power kills.

The second period looked like it would be slightly better simply because it couldn’t be worse. Then with less than five minutes remaining, Derek Stepan gave me what I wanted. All I wanted was to hear the goal song. I couldn’t take another shutout to the Lightning. On the power play, Mats Zuccarello made one of his incredible cross-ice passes and Stepan rifled it in the net to get the Rangers on the board.

That gave the Rangers momentum until the last minute when they tried to give it back.

Then came the third period, where the Rangers finally turned the tables. Two and a half minutes in, right after another Rangers power play had ended, it was Derek Stepan again to tie the game with his career high 22nd of the season. I’m pretty sure Vasilevskiy will want that one back (but he can’t have it).

Two minutes later, Chris Kreider did this:

https://www.nhl.com/video/embed/kreiders-go-ahead-backhand-tally/t-279846678/c-43273003?autostart=false

Hi Christopher. We’ve missed you. It’s so nice to see you.

In all seriousness, that was an incredible move. I have no idea what changed but if he finally has his confidence, I will take it.

Unfortunately that left the home team over 15 minutes to try and kill. Fifteen minutes to not allow a goal and to stay healthy through. They were successful on the first part.

But with a little over a minute to go, Dan Girardi went to play the puck behind the Rangers net. Ex-Ranger Brian Boyle felt the need to check Girardi while he was headed behind the net, and not in the legal way. That combined with the fact Boyle had bowled over Lundqvist in the first period, left the Garden crowd not too pleased with the ex-Ranger.

Was it a hard hit from behind directly into the boards? While I want to say yes just so I have more of a reason to be mad at Boyle, no it was not. It was a shove. But it was a dangerous shove as the two were too close to the boards for that hit to be made. The ironman went down and didn’t get up.

A scrum ensued and after it cleared, Girardi was seen lying on his back talking to the trainers. He slowly was helped to sit up, talked to them a little longer and then somehow was able to skate to the locker room with only a little help from his teammates. But even from my seat upstairs at MSG, I could tell he looked dazed.

After the game, Vigneault gave some promising news:

“He’s being evaluated by our medical staff right now,” Vigneault said of Girardi. “But as far as I could tell when I left everything looked good.”

But did he lose consciousness?

“Uh, I didn’t get into the details,” Vigneault said. “I just asked if Dan was all right and everybody shook their head (yes).”

From what I saw, both in person and on replay, it didn’t look like he did. But he definitely looked dazed so it’s possible. The scrum also took place basically on top of him so if he had, there may be no video that would show that. It’s just never a good sign when Girardi stays down. Here’s to hoping the ironman is okay.

Boyle was thrown from the remainder of the game and while the Rangers didn’t make it easy on themselves, they did manage to hang on for the 3-2 comeback victory. Does it make up for last year? No way. Did I enjoy watching Tampa lose a game they were leading after two? Absolutely.

Now only two games left. I don’t even care what happens in the standings but can we please not have to give another injury update on Thursday night?

 

(Photo: Melissa Andus)