First, we’re not going to be able to do the Live Chat with Dave Maloney today, so we will have our regular, usual Live Chat with me today after practice at the Garden, around 1:30 p.m. And we will shoot for a Live Chat with Dave later, maybe on Monday. Stay tuned.
Here is my column on the Rangers’ lack of discipline in Game 3, and how that can’t continue, from The Journal News and lohud.com:
By Rick Carpiniello
Henrik Lundqvist said the Rangers were “playing with fire” in Game 3 of the Rangers-Philadelphia Flyers series Tuesday night. He didn’t have to say that they did it right next to the open kerosene tank.
Having frittered away Game 2 with an effort that wasn’t terrible but wasn’t nearly good enough, the Rangers took four offensive-zone penalties, two of them negating power plays, one of them resulting in a Flyers goal in Game 3.
Lundqvist and the selfless shot-blocking penalty killers doused the flames and got out of town – literally, the Rangers boarded an Amtrak and returned to New York to sleep in their own beds between games – with a 4-1 victory and a 2-1 series lead.
It’s pretty obvious what Job 1 will be for Game 4 Friday night. Well, the discipline theme and, of course, being better, as each game in any given series demands.
Since the Rangers went up 3-1 on Washington in 2009 – a series in which they would then lose in seven – they have been a game up in a playoff series eight times, including this series, and have lost the next game every time.
And, unless you don’t pay attention, or have never seen Stanley Cup playoffs before, you know that what happens in one game means zilch about what happens in the next.
The Rangers will go into Game 4 with the road-ice advantage (they are 24-8-3 on the road since starting the season 2-6 on that opening trip; and road teams in the East were 8-5 in these playoffs before Wednesday), but not with anything momentum-wise that will help them.
They will face a new goaltender (Steve Mason ready to return from his upper-body concussion) and face Matt Read, whom the NHL for some reason felt didn’t need a suspension or a fine for a blatant head-shot against ex-Flyer Dan Carcillo in Game 3. They will face a Flyers team that ghostly captain Claude Giroux promised “will tie up this series.”
Carcillo, who played a significant and noticeable role after joining the lineup for Game 3, also took what he himself said was a “bad penalty” against Giroux in the offensive zone. Derek Dorsett took one. And Benoit Pouliot took a pair, both on the power play, one of which ended up a Flyers 4-on-4 goal.
Alain Vigneault gave Pouliot – who took a bunch of offensive-zone penalties early in the season – the benefit of the doubt. And didn’t give him the hook.
“He felt that the player (Andrew) MacDonald had taken a dive on both those occasions,” Vigneault said. “He felt he didn’t get a fair shake. Sometimes a situation might be that you need to sit down your player and address it and give him a couple of shifts off, and sometimes you’ve got to let your players work their way through it.”
Vigneault, who surely, but probably calmly, read the riot act between the second and third periods, knew that sitting Pouliot could be counterproductive. After the game he said Pouliot “needs to rein it in a little bit.”
Mike Keenan famously sat down Brian Leetch in the ’94 Eastern finals for a perceived lack of something, but the message he sent to his team was that his ego was more important than the game and/or the series. John Tortorella didn’t like Marian Gaborik’s game in Game 82 one year, and so he let Olli Jokinen lose the shootout in Philly that kept the Rangers out of the playoffs.
To Vigneault, you try to win the battles and the war. But the Rangers will make it harder on themselves if they continue the parade to the box. There are too many variables in winning and losing playoff hockey games already.
You can’t let something in your control burn out of control.
Photo by Getty Images.