-We're not really concerned about what kind of effort the Penguins will give tonight. While they don't have the greatest history of being consistent, they should probably offer something close to what they put on the ice 24 hours ago.
-The Rangers on the other hand, clearly need to offer something completely different.
-Given the lack of composure shown by Derek Dorsett and Dan Carillo last night, particularly Dorsett, there are some suggestions by those who know the Rangers far better than we do that the Rangers could sub in Pittsburgh area product J.T. Miller in place of Dorsett or Carcillo. With this team being fairly worn down, subbing in the quick legs of a fresh Miller cold give this team a boost of energy. Considering the Penguins are his hometown team, one would anticipate him having even extra hop tonight.
-Miller has appeared in two postseason games and has recorded two assists, each in the first round against the Flyers. He's shown an ability to handle things at this level in the postseason.
-Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has been putting it to his players the past 24 hours hours. After last night's game, he essentially said if goaltender Henrik Lundqvist isn't tired, his other players shouldn't be. Earlier this evening, he called out his best players:
Vigneault on Nash, St. Louis needing to step up: "(Pittsburgh's) big boys put on the big boy pants (last night). I need mine to do that."— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) May 5, 2014
-With Games 3 at home and their coach taking them to task publically and, presumably, privately, we would expect the Rangers to come out tonight like a train.
-Speaking of trains, we took one from Greensburg to New York. One of our friends asked us if we thought it was 1910 but our reasons were practical. With the lack of a travel day between Games 3 and 4, trying to get some work down such as today's Empty Netter Assists, this Q&A with Matt Niskanen and the game preview would have been impossible in a car. With the train - Amtrak in this case - we were able to sit in a business class seat, use the WiFI as well as the power outlet. It was a pretty relaxing ride through the Pennsylvania countryside. While the WiFi would konk out every once in awhile in the mountainous areas, it was a pretty enjoyable experience. The train went right from downtown Greensburg to New York Penn Station underneath Madison Square Garden. It was extremely convenient. It took nine hours to get here, but we had nine hours of work to get done.
-On a sadder note, former Penguins left winger Ross Lonsberry passed away today at the age of 67. Lonsberry was far more renown for his time with the Broad Stree Bully Flyers than the three seasons he spent in Pittsburgh at the end of his career. A member of the Flyers' Stanley Cup championship teams, Lonsberry came to Pittsburgh in the late 70s. The Penguins brought him in thinking his experience with the Flyers, who had been a far more successful team than their cross-state rivals to that point of their existences, could rub off on the struggling Penguins. Lonsberry had a few average seasons. He topped out with 24 goals in 1978-79 and helped the Penguins reach the playoffs in each of his three seasons with the Penguins. Primarily a second-liner with some scoring touch and physicality, Lonsberry was the second player to score a playoff goal for the Flyers and Penguins. Rick MacLeish was the first.
-We caught up with broadcaster Mike Lange in the press room tonight and he shared a funny story on Lonsberry who was bald. One night at one of the airports in Chicago, the players were boarding the plane from the tarmac. The every persistent wind in Chicago picked up and blew his toupee off and carried it away several yards. Lonsberry took off in a sprint to catch it. According to Lange, all of his teammates gave him a lot of grief and Lonsberry laughed right along with them.
-A Lonsberry goal from the 78-79 season:
(Photo: Penguins Hockey Cards)
-Some sights. The "World Famous" Horseshoe Curve near Altoona:
-The mighty Susquehanna:
-A dark, dark place:
-These placard are being distributed:
-This father from Philadelphia (by way of Pittsburgh) is bringing his sons to their first hockey game:
-He said he will never take them to a game in Philadelphia. We told him he was simply being a good parent.
-Henrik Lundqvist Sweden:
-The always rare Jean Ratelle/Brian Leetch combination:
-Brent Gretzky played for the Rangers?
-The t-shirts and towels being distributed:
-There are a few Penguins fans. Sidney Crosby:
-The Penguins' "Le" French connection, Mario Lemieux and Kris Letang:
-This gentleman was awfully proud of his Tyler Kennedy jersey:
-(Bury) Adams Graves:
-We did not anticipate seeing a Bary Beck jersey when we woke up today:
-Former Penguins/Rangers (and Canadiens) forward Alex Kovalev:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Lee Stemniak, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Chris Conner, Deryk Engelland, Tanner Glass, Jayson Megna, Brooks Orpik, Taylor Pyatt and Tomas Vokoun.
-The Rangers' starters are Carl Hagelin, Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist.
-Their scratches are Connor Allen, Ryan Bourque, Dan Carcillo, Derek Dorsett, Justin Falk, Tommy Hughes, Chris Kreider, Danny Kristo, David Leneveu, Oscar Lindberg, Dylan McIlrath, John Moore, Darroll Powe and Danny Syvret.
-The national anthem:
18:49: Using Olli Maatta as a screen, Benoit Pouliot snaps off a tricky wrister from above the right circle. Fleury eats it up.
18:34: A re-direction by Pouliot is wide of the cage.
17:23: Off a terrible turnover by Maatta from behind his net, Dan Girardi jumps on a puck at the right point and rockets a one-timer on net. Fleury knocks it dead and covers.
14:50: Racing for a puck dumped into the Rangers' zone, Raphael Diaz takes a spill into the end boards thanks to a shove in the hip by Brian Gibbons. Diaz crashes into he end boards as Lundqvist covers the puck. A few Rangers look around for a penalty but nothing. Gibbons, an Diaz for that matter, got lucky there.
14:44: Maatta recovers a puc in the Penguins zone, Goc and Dominic Moore get tied up in the the neutral zone. Moore sort have has his stick tangled up in Goc's legs. Goc gives him a shot up high and Moore goes down. That's an easy roughing penalty, especially after Gibbons got away with a shove.
14:07: Derick Brassard can't quite control a puck in tight and fails to get a shot on net.
13:37: HUGE save! Derek Stepan can't quite control a puck on the right wing wall of the neutral zone in front to the Rangers' bench. Kunitz out races him to the puck and races in on net. Kunitz cuts across the front of the crease and goes backhand. Lundvist stick with hit and kicks out the puck with his right skate. Wow! That's the second time in 24 hours he has stoned Kunitz on a breakaway.
12:44: Goc's minor is killed. The Rangers are now 0 for their last 30 on the power play.
12:05: Matt strokes a shot from the right point wide of the cage.
12:01: A one-timer by Kunitz from the right circle sails over Lundqvist's head.
10:16: A re-direction by Martin St. Louis is kicked out by Fleury.
8:16: Niskanen plays a puck out of the neutral zone and is thumped down by Brian Boyle. Oof. That elicits a rare cheer from a mostly quiet crowd.
7:24: Off a turnover by Scuderi deep in his own zone, Stepan chucks aw rister from ther ight point which is wide of the cage.
6:42: Maatta dumps Zuccarello to the ice with a shoulder check on the Penguins right wing wall. Zuccarello loses his stick and gives it back to Maatta.
6:22: Malkin smothers a loose puck in the crease. Malkin and Marc Staal mix it up a bit.
5:54: SO close. Stealing a puck off Richards, Crosby sneaks a pass from the left circle to Gibbons to the right of the crease. Gibbons pokes the puck wide. Crosby recovers the rebound and tries to tuck it in but loses it in the crease.
5:42: A one-timer by Raphael Diaz from the left point is fought off by Fleury.
4:01: Ryan McDonagh chips a puck on net from the left wing. Fleury kick it out.. The Penguins clear the puck out of danger.
2:42: Big save! Pouliot pushes a puck into the offensive zone on the right, pulls up over the right circle, gets Letang and Paul Martin to commit and deals a pass to Zuccarello on the left wing. Zucarrello has an acre of ice to work with and rips a wrister to the far side. Fleury stretches out to snag it.
1:45: Oof. Neal races up the right wing and leaves a drop pass for Malkin above the right circle. As Neal cuts to the slot, he lifts his stick and clips Jesper Fest int he mouth with his stick. Fast falls to th ice bleeding from the mouth. Neal is called for a double minor. Sutter, Adams, Scuderi and Adams take the ice.
1:33: Nash tries to sweep a puck in from the right of the cage but puts it wide of the crease.
0:55: Diaz swats a one-timer from the right point.
0:12: A one-timer by Pouliot from the right circle is off the cross bar. Egads.
0:06: Kunitz pushes the puck deep down the Rangers slot and lifts a wrister which deflects out of play.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 0, Rangers 0.
-It's hard to imagine playing three games in four nights and putting the third on a chippy rink would produce such a boring display of hockey.
-That was ugly. Neither team had any sort of jump or any flash of energy. Each squad looks gassed.
-If the Rangers got any boost from the three players they inserted into the lineup - Diaz, Miler and Fast - it was minimal. Fast did draw a penalty however.
-The Rangers power play still looks flat.
-The Penguins really haven't blown the world away either. They're just kind of holding pat.
-Each goaltender has been sharp thus far.
-The Rangers have a 10-7 lead in shots on net.
-The rangers have a 19-14 lead in attempted shots.
-Diaz leads the game with three shots. None of the Penguins has more than one shot.
-Martin leads the game with 8:51 of ice time.
-McDonagh leads the Rangers with 8:01.
-The Rangers have an 11-7 lead in faceoffs (61 percent).
-Richards is 5 for 8 (63 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shot.
20:00: The Rangers will star the period with 2:15: of power lay time on fresh ice.
18:37: Girardi chops a one-time from the right point. Fleury kicks it out. St. Lous tries to recover the rebound but is stripped by.
18:16: Nash lifts a wrister from the right circle which Fleury gloves.
17:49: A wrister by Brassard from the right circle is kicked out by Fleury.
17:27: As Neal's second minor expires, Richard rips a wrister from the right circle which Fleury snags.
17:26: Finally. Bortuzzo settles a puck in his own left circle and zips a stretch pass down ice to Crosby on the right wing. Crosby blows by Staal and rips a wrister from the left circle through Lunqvist five hole for his first goal of the playoffs. That has to be a relief. Oh by the way. IT WAS A ROBERT BORTUZZO STRETCH PASS which did the trick. Bortuzzo and Kunitz get assists. Fans boo. Penguins 1-0.
12:42: Off a feed by Neal, Jokinen flips a forehand shot from the left circle which glances off the far post.
12:21: Stempniak has a chance in tight but can't beat Lundqvist.
11:58: Off a faceoff win in the Penguins' right circle by Brassard, Zuccarello rips a wrister from the slot. Fleury kicks out. Zuccarello beat Maatta to the rebound and and swats it on net. It hits off the cross bar and bounces out. The Rangers sort of celebrate. Play is blown dead. Officials review the play and confirm the puck did not cross the goal line.
11:35: Zuccarello races in off the right wing and tries to skate by Letang. Letang chases him down and swat the puck away with his stick. Great play.
10:58: Rangers fans begin "Fleury xxxx!" chants.
10:37: Moore blows by Scuderi in the right circle and from the right circle, he lifts backhander which is denied by Fleury. Boyle has a chance at the rebound but can't bury it.
9:41: The Penguins will get their first power play as Kevin Klein cross checked Beau Bennett in the New York end boards. Letang, Martin, Kunitz, Crosby and Malkin take the ice.
8:59: Martin chops a one-timer from center point wide of the cage.
8:10: A slap pass by Niskanen off the right wing is off the mark.
7:41: Two minutes later, the Penguins' power play doesn't look much better than the Rangers'. Fans offer a rare cheer for the effort.
7:20: Maatta makes a poort pass out of his own left wing corner. Pouliot steals it and races in on net. Niskanen closes in and knocks the puck loose. Jokinen chucks it down ice to get it out danger and ices it. The Penguins call time out to get a breather.
7:00: Zuccarello whips ap uck out of the right wing corner owards the cera.s It hits a skate and hops up. Fleury fights it off.
6:48: Jokinen is nabbed for holding the stick of Brassard behind the Penguins' net. Goc Adams, Martina nd Scuderi take the ice.
6:07: As Rangers fans chant" SHOOT THE PUCK!" at their troubled power play, Derek Stepan does just that rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights off.
5:36: Diaz rips a wrister from the right circle which Fleury fights off.
5:30: A wrister by Diaz from the right wing is denied by Fleury. He's tuned in right now.
5:19: A one-timer by Girardi from the right point is blocked out of play.
4:41: Jussi Jokinen. Free agent. After Zuccarello fumbles a puck at the right point of the Penguins' zone while battling Sutter, the puck slides out to the neutral zone zone. Jokinen races in on net and attacks. He goes forehand/backhand and tucks forehand shot by the blocker of undqvit o give the penguins a two-goal lead fo the second consecutive night. The goal is unassisted and gives Jokinen a seven-game scoring streak. You think he knows his free agent status after this season? Penguins 2-0.
3:14: Letang loses a puck on the Rangers' right point. Carl Hagelin barges by him and aces up the left wing to create a scoring chance. His slapper is kicked out by Fleury. Martin clears the rebound out of danger.
2:31: Stepan rips a wrister from the right circle but has it blocked by Letang. The puck skids in on net and Fleury smothers it.
1:29: Crosby flips a puck over the net from the right circle with a backhand shot.
1:22: Richards chops a slapper from above the right circle.
0:51: A slapper by Miller from the right wing is over the cage.
0:00: End of period. A last second wrister by Moore from the left point is snagged by Fleury. As the horn sounds, Moore tries to start something with Niskanen behind the net but falls over. that's how it's going for the Rangers right now. Penguins 2, Rangers 0.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was tuned in that period. Everything was hitting him in a meaty part of his body. He looks unbeatable right now.
-How opportunistic has the Penguins' offense been tonight? They have been waiting for the rangers to have something like a bad line change or a loose puck in the neutral zone to strike.
-The Rangers' power play is a deep hole of despair right now. They looks completely befuddled with the man advantage.
-He wasn't perfect but Letang had a pretty strong period defensively.
-The Penguisn have been doing a pretty good job of smothering the Rangers anytime they venture through the neutral zone.
-The Rangers have a 26-14 lead in shots on net.
-The Rangers have a 45-33 lead in attempted shots.
-Diaz leads the game with six shots.
-Jokinen leads the Penguins with four shots.
-Martin leads the game with 19:07 of ice time.
-Girardi leads the Rangers with 17:23.
-Faceoffs are even, 21-21 (50 percent).
-Richards and Crosby are each 8 for 14 (57 percent).
-St. Louis and Marth each lead the game with thee blocked shots.
19:14: Off a feed by St. Louis, Stepan rips a shot from deep on the right wing wide of the cage.
18:08: A wrister by miller from the right circle is wide of the cage.
17:51: A brief but loud "Let's-Go Rang-Ers!" chant begins.
14:50: The Penguins have just suffocated almost every single attempt at a puck entry by the Rangers. It's impressive.
12:57: Nash circle around in the right cirlce and whips a wrister on net. Fleury kicks it out.
11:55: A one-timer by Diaz from the right poitn is blocked.
11:16: Off a turnover in the neutral zone by Letang, the Rangers have a bit of at two-on-one. Sepan pushes it up the right wing and deals a centering pass to Nash int he slot but Martin lays down to block it with his stick. Great play.
8:36: After a few stagnant minutes, Richards tees up a slapper from the right point wide of the cae to the far sidel.
8:19: A one-timer by Klein from the right point is blocked by Gibbons who is hobbled.
7:16: Circling around the net, McDonagh emerges to the right of the cage end whips a wrister wide to the far side.
5:54: Richard rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights it off as Hagelin and Miller crash in hoping for a rebound.
5:01: A wrister by Gibbons from the right wing is blocked by Diaz.
4:23: Staal blocks a poke check attempt by Sutter at the Ranger blue line. Staal leans down to do it but looked completely gassed in trying to get to his skates.
3:00: Bennett rips a wrister from the right circle which is blocked out of play.
2:45: Lundqvist sprints out of his cage for an extra attacker.
2:32: Stalman hs a slapper from center point blocked by Stempniak.
1:58: Last chance here for the Rangers. Zuccarello races in off the right wing and fires a wrister which Fleury denies. Martin hooked up Zuccarello on the play. That's two minutes. Adams, Scuderi, Sutter and Letang take the ice. This is do or die for the Rangers.
1:39: A one-timer by St. Louis from the right circle flutters over the net.
1:24: Girardi chops a one-timer from the right point which breaks Sutter stick.
1:11: Adams steals a puck from Diaz and backhands it down ice.
0:34: Letang takes a tumble on the right boards after getting tangled up by a few Rangers players.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 2, Rangers 0.
-That was somewhat similar to a few games the Penguins played nearly a year ago. In last season's Eastern Conference final, the Bruins played a game like this against the Penguins. Tonight, the Penguins were the Bruins. The smothered and contested nearly every single possession the Rangers had in the neutral zone and forced the worn-down rangers to dump and chase pucks all night. The Rangers, having played far too many games in far too short of a time span, simply didn't have the energy to compete and battle with the Penguins.
-Rangers coach Alain Vigneault made a remark about his team having to play a "stupid schedule" after the game and that kind of comes off a sour grapes but it's reality. Marc Staal's skating ability in the third period resembled one of those World Strongest Man contests where some hulking Scandinavian is dragging a bus behind him. He and most o his teammates looked worn out.
-The Penguins' looking at the Rangers' fatigue as an excuse either. They see it as a scab and they are picking at it with a jackhammer. They are daring the Rangers to skate and exposing their fatigue.
-Oh yeah, by the way. Marc-Andre Fleury recorded another shutout. It's the first time in franchise history a goaltender has had back-to-back shutouts in the postseason. Was Fleury tested? Sure. He saw plenty of rubber but most of the shots he faced were fairly pedestrian. And there was little traffic of note in his way. He saw every puck as if it issues a press release informing him of their arrivals. The Rangers kept him busy but didn't make things difficult.
At what point does new goaltending coach Mike Bales start getting some credit for Fleury's success this postseason? Aside from a late meltdown in Game 4 at Columbus, Fleury has been very consistent in these playoffs.
-Once the Penguins got their two-goal lead, they just trapped. They tied up things at their blue line and contested every attempt by the Rangers to skate the puck in or dump it in. They created a nebulous web of sticks, bodies, skates and everything else at their disposal to prevent the Rangers from really getting the puck into the offensive zone for anything substantial. It was arguably the best defensive effort by this team all season.
-Those old Penguins from recent years who wanted to keep pressing things and taking chances? They were no where to be seen tonight. These were Kevin Constantine's Penguins.
-Sidney Crosby finally found his name on the score sheet. It was a pretty nasty shot too that he sent through Henrik Lundqvist's five hole.
-Jussi Jokinen keeps making the most out of his opportunities. The craftiness he has shown on many of his goals this postseason, including tonight, have displayed the intelligence he plays the game with. He has such a good feel for the game in virtually any situation.
-He also has a good feel for his status as a free agent this summer. He will get paid.
-We still can't get over the stretch pass Robert Bortuzzo made to spring Crosby loose on his goal.
-Kris Letang didn't have a perfect game. He didn't even have a point coming off his three-point effort in Game 2. But he was a really strong player in his own zone. He won so many one-on-one battles with tired Rangers forwards. He looked like a much larger man at time with how physical he was. His game has gotten quite a boost from being teamed with Paul Martin.
-Brandon Sutter played another strong game. He helped force the puck free on a Rangers turnover leading to Jokinen's goal. It would have been nice to see him get an assist on that play.
-Whatever the Rangers got Martin St. Louis for, he's not providing it. He has looked so ordinary this series. It's been disappointing. There's little chemistry evident between him, Rick Nash and Derek Stepan.
-The Rangers' second line of Derick Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot once again was the Rangers' most dangerous trio. They had the bulk of the Rangers' quality scoring chances.
-Raphael Diaz was probably the most notable of the Rangers "new" guys. He popped six shots on net, several of which came on the power play.
-Speaking of which... ick. New York's power play is now 0 for its past 34. Oddly, it looked pretty sharp at times tonight by peppering Fleury with a ton of shots. But again, there wasn't much in the way of traffic to hurt his view of the puck.
-The Penguins got fairly careless with penalties tonight. Marcel Goc, who didn't have as good of a game as he did in the previous four, took a foolish penalty early in the game. And James Neal's double minor for high sticking was careless. The Penguins did quite a few things to help boost that Rangers power play.
-Henrik Lundqvist was pretty good but not great. The goal he allowed to Crosby was preventable. The Jokinen breakaway is tough to pin on him. He did rob Chris Kunitz of a breakaway early. Lundqvist only faced 15 shots. He probably should have stopped 14 of them.
-The Rangers led in shots on net, 35-15.
-The Rangers had a 69-38 lead in attempted shots.
-Diaz led the game with six shots.
-Jokinen led the Penguins with four shots.
-The Penguins had a 33-26 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Sutter was 11 for 19 (58 percent).
-Brad Richards was 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Martin and St. Louis each lead the game with three blocked shots.
-Fleury recorded his eighth career postseason shutout.
-This was the second time the Penguins recorded two shutouts within the same postseason series. They recorded two against the Islanders in last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Fleury won Game 1, 5-0, while Tomas Vokoun won Game 5, 4-0.