The New York Rangers got a much-needed day off on Tuesday after back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday and Monday. Monday’s loss marked the end of an exhausting week for New York, in which they played five games in seven days.
Adrenaline is a big part of playoff hockey, especially when it comes to momentum swings, but the Rangers badly needed at least one day to recharge before an immensely important Game 4 in New York. The Rangers are attempting to send the best-of-seven series back to Pittsburgh knotted up at two games apiece.
The day off may also give the Rangers a chance to work on their lifeless power play that has a seven percent success rate in the playoffs. New York has failed to score on their last 34 power plays. The worst part is that the Rangers have had every opportunity to convert with a man advantage. Of the remaining teams alive in the playoffs, New York has the most power play chances and is tied for the least amount of power play goals.
The day off will also be extremely important for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who’s started every playoff game for the Rangers, including those five in seven nights. The blueshirts need “The King” to be at his best, as Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has surprisingly outplayed Lundqvist to this point. The day off should assure that Lundqvist is rested enough and ready to go in Game 4.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault also had a day to decide which lineup he wants in Game 4. Derek Dorsett, Daniel Carcillo and John Moore were all removed from the lineup in Game 3 after dressing for the first two games of the series. That was mostly to keep a fresh group in the lineup with the second game of a back-to-back coming, but expect Vigneault to make some more changes before Game 4.
Dorsett has played very well on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Brian Boyle, so there’s a good chance he’ll replace Jesper Fast or J.T. Miller in the lineup. Raphael Diaz replaced Moore on defense in Game 3 and looked decent on the power play. Considering how bad the power play has been, Vigneault might leave Diaz to try and contribute with a man advantage.
Overall, the Rangers hope to play a fast-paced game and the day off will certainly bode well in that regard. Speed has been a key to New York’s success throughout the season, and they’ll need plenty of energy in a Game 4 that is virtually a must-win for the Rangers.