The New York Rangers were flying high after an OT win against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their second-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers essentially put the Penguins in a must-win situation in front of their own crowd in Game 2.
The score was 3-0 by the end of the game, but that certainly didn’t tell the whole story. What transpired immediately after the game pretty much gave fans a preview of what can be expected as the series shifts to Madison Square Garden. As New York skated off the ice, Brian Boyle and Evgeni Malkin exchanged some words near the benches. Malkin then reached over with the butt of his stick and swatted it near Boyle’s face as the referees separated the two.
The Rangers shouldn’t need any motivation to respond to the Penguins after a Game 2 loss in which the team couldn’t seem to hide their frustrations. Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi took an interference penalty where he veered a Pittsburgh player into the boards clearly out of frustration, a clear sign that Penguins are starting to get to the Rangers.
As the Rangers’ frustration mounted in towards the end of the third period, so did the goals against them. The team will go no where if they continue to play as they did on Sunday night.
The Penguins will continue to bother the Rangers until they are eliminated, so the Blueshirts must change their attitudes heading into Game 3. Alain Vigneault must find a way to keep his team playing a physical brand of hockey, but keep them from getting roped into petty scraps with Penguins’ players.
This is easier said than done in the heat of the moment, but at this crucial point heading into Game 3 and beyond, the Rangers’ season simply depends on it.