-In game 3, the puck was bouncing a lot. It looked like a Superball at times. We simply assumed that visual evidence and the notorious nature of the ice in this building meant the ice was poor. Chatting informally with three members of the Penguins today, we learned that was not necessarily the case. All three said they felt the ice was fine. Not good. Not bad. One acknowledged the ice was probably better for skating than puck handling. Either way, we ripped the ice in our Game 3 game blog without really getting a first-hand account of it first. Allow us to rescind those earlier comments.
-We're not sure what to make of Brooks Orpik's full participation in a morning skate. He looked fine. There weren't any visible signs of a limp or anything in his skating. During Game 3, he was spotted in the press box and appeared to have a pretty stiff walk. Frankly, we're not sure there's a huge need to rush him back to the lineup. He was fairly good in the four four games of the first round series against Columbus. Since he's been absent, the Penguins defense has been better.
-That's not a knock on Orpik mind you. It's more a byproduct of the team shuffling it's defensive pairings, particularly teaming Kris Letang and Paul Martin together. In years past Martin and Letang haven't always meshed. In the past handful of games, they look like a perfect pair. They have read the play off one another pretty well and it seems to have boosted Letang's game quite a bit.
-Robert Bortuzzo has been a welcome addition. He's just been a steady, physical presence who loos remarkably confident for someone playing and NHL playoff game for the first time. He's been teamed with Rob Scuderi who has been more stable with lesser minutes of five-on-five play.
-A lot of things are pointing towards Chris Kreider returning to the lineup. He has been sidelined for quite some time due to a hand injury and finally participated in a full practice today in a non-contact jersey. Kreider played it coy when asked about his status tonight after the morning skate but hard trouble holding back some smiles. Head coach Alain Vigneault was wishy-washy over his status and seemed to go out of his way to cloud his status for the media. If he plays he's what this team needs. A fresh body which goes to the net. By this team's own admission, they did not go to the net enough and create havoc for Marc-Andre Fleury in Game 3. If nothing else, Kreider has the track record of going to the net.
-The cross-check to the back of the head of Sidney Crosby by Marc Staal has drawn a lot of attention and understandably so. It's the league's best-known player - who happens to have a history of concussions - being struck in the head with a stick. That's always going to get attention. To us, that play, while very dangerous, wasn't nearly as dangerous as Brian Gibbons' sneaky shove in the hit of Raphael Diaz while racing for a puck in the Rangers' zone which sent Diaz crashing into the end boards awkwardly. Diaz is lucky he didn't severely injury anything below the belt. Gibbons is lucky he wasn't even penalized let alone fined or suspended.
-We took in a few sights of New York the past two days. We won't overload the blog with them because virtually every form of media has documented this city. It's big, fast, stinky, exciting, rude, expensive, overrated, electric, diverse, flowing with people and full of options. It's New York City:
-They have a bikeshare program in New York:
-The Rangers' power play has taken its toll on the faithful:
-Madison Square Garden with the Empire State Building in the background:
-The World's Most Famous sugar packet:
-(Bury) Adams Graves:
-A non-Brilliant jersey:
-A few 412ers are here. Kris Letang:
-A tucked-in (sigh) Mario Lemieux:
-These two lone Penguins fans look marooned in the "cheap" seats:
-We keep running into Bruins fans on the road in Columbus and New York. Tyler Seguin:
-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins and Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr:
-Orpik warmed up. Their lines and defensive pairings in warm ups were:
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Lee Stempniak
Jussi Jokinen - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Beau Bennett - Brandon Sutter - Joe Vitale
Brian Gibbons - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams
Kris Letang - Paul Martin
Olli Maatta - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Rob Scuderi
-That Orpik-Scuderi pairing is... interesting (to be kind).
-The Rangers' lines and defensive pairings in warmups were:
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash
Benoit Pouliot - Derrick Brassard - Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin - Brad Richards - Martin St. Louis
Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Dan Carcillo
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Anton Stralman
Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Chris Conner, Deryk Engelland, Tanner Glass, Taylor Pyatt and Tomas Vokoun.
-The Rangers' starters are Derick Brassard, Benoit Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist.
-Their scratches are Conor Allen, Ryan Bourque, Derek Dorsett, Justin Falk, Tommy Hughes, Danny Kristo, David Leneveu, Oscar Lindberg, Dylan McIlrath, J.T. Miller, John Moore, Darroll Powe and Danny Syvret.
-The national anthem:
19:55: Almost immediately, a rousing "Let's-Go Ran-Gers!" chant circles the building.
19:17: Chris Kreider touches the puck for the first time and is greeted with cheers.
19:06: Stepan get loos eon the left wing, gets a step on Matt Niskanen and fling a backhander from the right circle which Fleury rejects.
18:59: Nash chips a puck from the left circle on net. Fleury holds it out and smother it as a handful of bodies crash around him.
18:25: Orpi announce shis eturns by thumps Richards to the ice in front of he Penguins' bench with a meaty check as the hops out of play. Orpik kind of stand on top of him for a few moments after wards. Richards takes offense, gets up and shoves Orpik. A few pleasantries are exchange before officials breaking things up.
17:29: After a terrible turnover by Stralman at his own blue line, the Penguins strike first. Malkin stake he puck in the neutral zone a race up the right wing and zips a cross-ice feed to Crosby. Crosby forces a feed to Kunitz in the slot but it hits off the leg of a sliding Staal. The puck deflects right to Malkin to the right of the cage. He settles the puck and sneaks in a spinning backhander by Lundqvist's left leg. It's a briliant goal but it was set up by two cruddy passes - Crosby and Stralman's. Crosby gets the only assists. Penguins 1-0.
15:36: Martin snaps off a wrister from the right point. Lundqvist eats it up despite a little traffic.
15:28: A wrparound attempt by Gibbons is denied by Lundqvist.
14:01: Off some sharp passing, Zuccarello snaps off a shot/pass from the right wing wide to the far side.
12:23: The Penguins get the first power play. Stempniak steal a terrible pass by Girardi in the neutral zone. he pus it up the right wing, dekes McDonagh out of his joke and attacks the net on his backhand. Lundqvist denies him. Eventually the Rangers settle the puck. Hagelin is nabbed for hooking Stempniak. Part of the varsity power play (Martin and Niskanen) take the ice along with parts of the J.V. squad (Jokinen, Sutter and Neal)
11:17: Niskanen chops a slap/pass from the left point to Neal position to the right of the cage. Neal re-directs it wide.
10:46: Short-handed Neal push the puck the right wing an dflings a wrister from the Penguins' blue line. Fleury taps it wide with his blocker.
10:23: The Hagelin minor expires. The Penguins did not do much with that chance. They had their J.V. unit out for most of the two minutes.
10:08: Big save. Scuderi chops a slapper from the left point off the end boards. It ricochets to Bennett to the right of the cage. Bennett tries to settle the puck and jab it in the net by Lunqvist' left leg denies him. Wow.
9:49: Zuccarello races for a puck in the Penguins' right wing corner and tries to cut away from a perusing Letang but tumbles awkwardly into the boards with Letang on top of him. Thankfully, everyone appears to avoid injury.
7:51: Off a quick draw faceoff win in the Ranger's right circle by Sutter, Neal is position behind the dot and rips a wrister wide of the cage.
6:48: Carcillo races up the right and fires a slapper wide.
6:23: Zuccarello jostles Orpik with a hard hit in the right wing corner.
612: A wrister by Kreider from the right circle is blocked by Orpik
5:51: Giardi chops a one-timer from the right point wide of the cage.
5:22: Brassard trie to fire a spinning wrister left circle but Scuderi, limping slightly, blocks it.
5:07: Richards taps a backhander from the right corner at the cage. Fleury smother it to get his team a much-needed stoppage in play. The Rangers dominated the puck that shift. A scrum develops behind the cage. Staal gets nabbed for slashing Fleury. Knitz, Martin, Letang, Crosby and Malkin take the ice.
3:07: Two minutes later the Penguins accomplished little with that chance.
2:47: A wrister by Bennett from the right circle is blocked by McDonagh.
1:08: Big chance her effort the Penguins. Kunitz is smashed into the boards in front of the Rangers' bench. he gets up and whacks Girardi on the right leg. Girardi sells it a bit. That's two minutes for slashing. Scuderi. Sutter, Adams, Scuderi and Martin take the ice.
0:53: Short-handed, Sutter pushes the puck up ice and chops a slapper from the blue line. It hits Lundqvist high. He smothers the rebound and is shaken up for a moment. He takes a few moment to collect himself but remains in the game.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.
-The Penguins were pretty much in control of this game until the power-plays started. At that point, things kind of stalled out for both teams and a lot of the flow evaporated.
-So far so good for Brooks Orpik. He's been plenty physical and hasn't be afraid to mix it up. He has 5:15 of ice time on nine shifts and two blocked shots.
-Kreider seemed to inject a little life into the Rangers' first line. He had a hand in a few spurts of offensive activity they displayed. He had 5:03 of ice time on nine shifts.
-Crosby has not had a particularly sharp game thus far. His puck decisions weren't great.
-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 7-6.
-The Penguins have a 21-14 lead in attempted shots.
-Sutter leads the game with two shots.
-McDonagh leads the game with 10:52 of ice time.
-Martin leads the Penguins with 9:15.
-The Penguins have an 11-6 lead in faceoffs (65 percent).
-Crosby is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Brassard is 2 for 4 (50 percent).
-McDonagh leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Scuderi and Orpik each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Rangers will have 52 seconds of power-play time on fresh ice. Martin, Scuderi, Adams and Sutter take the ice.
19:21: Kreider rips a wrister from the left wing. Fleury rejects it.
19:16: Nash snaps off a wrister from the left circle which Fleury boots away.
19:08: The power-play expires. The Rangers are now 0 for their 35 on the power play.
17:13: Bennett rips a wrister from the left wing wide of the cage.
16:03: Kreider drives to the net from the right wing and crashes in. Fleury holds it out as he's shoved out by Kreider.
15:01: Bennett is skating with Neal and Sutter.
14:30: McDonagh carries a puck out hos zone and snaps off a stretch a stretch pass to Hagelin in the neutral zone. Hagelin burst into the Penguins' zone between Scuderi and Niskanen who was inexplicably attempting to leave the change. Scuderi slides down for ... we can't even explain why. Hagelin takes the real estate in the Penguins' zone and snaps off wrister by the glove hand of Fleury on the far side to tie the game and give the Rangers first goal in two games. What a pretty shot but what a horrid display of defense by the Penguins. McDonagh gets the only assists. Rangers 1, Penguins 1.
12:55: Kreider re-directs a puck wide of the cage.
10:48: Neal deals a pass from the left wing corner to Jokinen in the right circle. Jokinen snaps it off. Lundqvist smothers it.
9:37: After a turnover by Letand deep in the offensive zone, Nash a rush up the right wing and lifts a wrister over the cage. Hustling back, Letang crashes into the net.
9:20: We apologize for overlooking this but Orpik never returned to the from the dressing room after the first intermission.
9:26: Maatta pushes a puck up the right wing out of his zone and ishamse into the bards by Kreider. Oof.
6:41: Malkin races up the right wing and puts a wrister wide of the cage.
5:41: McDonagh chucks a wrister from the left point wide of he cage.
5:10: Martin chops a slapper from the right point. Zuccarello blocks it and is greeted with "Zooooooo" chants.
4:57: Nash races the puck up the right wing on a partial two-on-one with Kreider against Letang. Nash rips a wrister which Fleury fights off. Kreider is the side of the cage but can't get a stick on the puck.
2:41: The Rangers get a power play. Brassard steal a puck off Malkin behind the Rangers' net and is tripped up by Malkin. Brassard sell it a little bit. This is a huge two minutes. Adams, Sutter, Scuderi and Martin take the ice.
1:33: Things go from bad to worse on the Rangers power play. Off a terrible turnover by Nash from his own neutral zone Gibbons sashes on net on a breakaway with a series of dekes but loses the puck right above the blue paint. Lundqvist is on his stomach after reacting to Gibbons but can't get the puck before Sutter follows up on it and lifts it by Lundqvist right leg of a prone Lundqvist. Ugh. What an ugly play. What in the world was Nash doing there. He fell over in the neutral zone and just sort of laid there after the turnover. Gibbons and Letang get assists. Penguins 2-1.
0:41: The Rangers' power play fails to score once again. Boos ensue.
0:08: A loose puck bounces to Malkin the right circle and he whips it wide of the cage.
0:00: End of period. Fans boo the Rangers off the ice. Penguins 2, Rangers 1.
-First things first no official report on Orpik's status.
-What a bizarre period. Both teams played badly. The Rangers just happened to be worse.
-The Penguins sort of went into "hang-on-for-dear-life" mode after Oprik left. It led to the Rangers' lone goal. They were lucky to regain the lead.
-This Rangers' power play is so bad you can't unsee it. If that makes sense.
-The Penguins have a 17-11 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins have a 48-26 lead in attempted shots.
-Sutter leads the game with four shots.
-Nash leads the Rangers with three shots.
-The Penguins have a 24-11 lead in faceoffs (69 percent).
-Crosby is 7 for 10 (70 percent).
-Brassard is 3 for 8 (38 percent).
-McDonagh leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Scuderi and Orpik each lead the game with two blocked shots.
20:00: Still no Orpik.
19:26: Malkin rockets a one-timer from center point wide of the cage.
15:19: After a few stagnant minutes, Zuccarello jostles Stempniak in front of the Rangers' penalty box with a solid hit.
14:29: Crosby tries to jam in a wraparound attempt and is denied by Lundqvist. Staal comes in with a high forearm/elbow on Crosby. Crosby appeared to duck most of the head and take most of it in his upper back. That was pretty dangerous. Crosby looked pretty mad after the hit.
13:15: Nash chucks a wrister on net from the right wing. Fleury smothers it.
12:58: Game. Set Match. After Neal steals a puck off Staal on the right point of the Rangers' zone, Jokinen chips a backhander from the right circle. Lundqvist kicks it out. Jokinen recovers his rebound and whips it from the left circle towards the cage. It hits off Staal's skate and deflects by Lundqvist. It's another key goal for Jokinen and extends his scoring streak to eight games. That really deflated this place. Neal gets the only assist. Penguins 3, Rangers 1.
10:25: After icing the puck, the Penguins call a time out.
9:14: After Crosby forces Kreider into a turnover at the Rangers' blue line, he ends up high sticking Crosby. The puck ends up on Malkin's stick in the right circle and he rips a wrister which Lundqvist snags it. Kreder is called for high sticking. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Niskanen and Martin take the ice. With the Penguins holding onto a two-goal lead, the Penguin will use the safer defensive pairing.
8:01: Jokinen races up the right wing and rips a wrister fromt he left circle. Lundqvist kicks it out.
7:19: Off a drop pass from Malkin, Neal rips a wrister from the left circle. Lundqvist fights it off.
7:14: The Kreider minor is killed.
6:53: Not so fast. The Zuccarello-Pouliot-Brassard line strikes. Zuccarello weaves his way across the slot with the puck on his backhand and motors by a diving poke check of Martin, he goes deep on the right wing and sneaks backhander between Fleury's left arm and the goal pipe for a pretty goal. Fleury needed to stop that. This is a one goal game once again. Stalman and Staal get assists. Penguins 3-2.
5:56: The Penguins respond immediately. Crosby chips puck in from the neutral to Malkin who casually gathers it, circles around the back of the net and deals a backhanded pass to Kunitz in the left cirlce. Kunitz snaps off a pretty easy one-timer which beats Lundqvist on the near side. McDonagh and Girard looked completely flat-footed there. St. Louis appeared to be out of position on the play as well. The Penguins regain a two-goal lead. Malkin and Crosby get assists. Penguins 4-2.
3:30: A wrister by Staal is blocked by the great Joe Vitale.
2:26: As Lundqvist is pulled for an extra attacker, Hagelin hustles up the right wing and lifts a wrister on net. Lundqvist snags it.
1:29: A wrister by Girardi from the right point is blocked out of play.
0:48: A wrister by St. Louis from the right circle is kicked out by Fleury's left leg.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Rangers 2
-First things first, Brooks Orpik suffered a separate undisclosed injury from his previous undisclosed injury according to Dan Bylsma.
-Having watching these three games, it's almost staggering the Penguins were ever trailing in Game 1 let alone lost it. This is a bad Rangers team. The Penguins haven't necessarily beaten them these past three games as they've simply haven't been bad.
-In other words, the Penguins haven't done that much to be on the verge of winning this series other than no be terrible like the Rangers.
-The Penguins' stars have been somewhat inconsistent in these playoffs. In comparison, the Rangers' stars have mostly been missing in action.
-Things have gotten so bad for Rick Nash, he was booed when he touched the puck tonight... at home.
-Martin St. Louis has been another non-factor. You rarely notice him on the ice with the exception of that someone that small on an NHL rink somewhat catches you eye.
-The Penguins' blue line did a pretty good job of rallying once Orpik was injury. Everyone picked up a few more shifts and responded pretty well for the most part.
-Brandon Sutter and Jussi Jokinen continue to break out this postseason. Sutter was once again key to the team's defensive efforts and cashed in on lucky power play goal. Jokinen might price himself out of he Penguins' offseason plans the way he's playing.
-While not as sharp as Game 3, Fleury was solid. he maybe could have stopped Derick Brassard's goal but that's nit picking.
-Brian Gibbons has been huge - not literally - to this team's defensive efforts since his return.
-Chris Kreider gave him team a boost. He went to the net and created a few things off the rush. It's a shame for the Rangers his teammates didn't offer anything similar.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 27-15.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 66-38.
-Sutter and Nash each led the game with four shots.
-Martin led the game with 30:05 of ice time. Yeesh.
-Ryan McDonagh led the Ranges with 26:07.
-The Penguins led in faceoffs, 31-18 (63 percent).
-Sidney Crosby was 10 for 15 (67 percent).
-Brassard was 5 for 11 (45 percent).
-Marc Staal and McDonagh each led the game with four blocked shots.
-Orpik and Scuderi each led the Penguins with two blocked shots.
-Jokinen now has an eight-game scoring streak.