The Blueshirts will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in game three with hopes of avoiding being swept (8:00 P.M. ET, MSG, NBCSN).
|Rangers||Post Season Leaders||Hurricanes|
|Zibanejad, Panarin, Staal – 1||Goals||Svechnikov – 3|
|6-way tie – 1||Assists||Aho – 4|
|Zibanejad, Panarin – 2||Points||Aho – 5|
|Lundqvist 64/71||Saves/Shots Against||Mrazek 47/50|
Game two didn’t go according to plan like game one. Unlike game one, the Rangers played a very good first period and came out tied 1-1. However, once the Canes went ahead 2-1, it was much of the same by Carolina. Henrik Lundqvist made the start once again and stopped 30 of 34 shots. Igor Shesterkin was deemed unfit to play for the second straight game. Andrei Svechnikov registered a hat trick for Carolina; the first hat trick in the playoffs in Carolina Hurricanes history.
While Lundqvist, did allow a goal or two he wishes he could have back, he also made a few stellar saves and kept the Rangers in it for most of the game.
“I thought Hank was solid,” said head coach David Quinn. “Listen, we got one goal. We’re not going to win scoring one goal.”
The lone goal in the 4-1 defeat came from Artemi Panarin on a 5 on 3 powerplay. The Blueshirts still need to generate more offense and they will need their top six to step up. But besides a few individual performances, everyone had an off game.
“I don’t think it was our bottom-six forwards that have to be better,” said Quinn. “I think our top-six forwards have to be better. If you’re going to win, your best players have to be your best players – and our best players have to outplay their best players.”
“I don’t think it’s a drastic change,” Quinn continued when asked about changes for game three. “I just think every guy in there has to be better.”
With being up 2-0 in the series and a chance to sweep the Rangers, the Hurricanes will likely run the exact same lineup and continue to let Dougie Hamilton heal up. With the Canes allowing just one five-vs-five goal in two games, rushing Hamilton back wouldn’t be wise.
The biggest bright spot of the playoffs thus far for the Rangers has been 19-year-old Kaapo Kakko. Despite having no points, Kakko has played with a lot of confidence, making good plays and is stronger on the puck. He has been the most noticeable forward for the Rangers.
In both games, the Rangers have fallen behind extremely early into the first period. The Blueshirts have to jump out to a lead in game three and force Carolina to not play to their strength in protecting a lead. With Carolina have to play a more offensive game, they’ll have more gaps in their defense leaving the Rangers more gaps and chances to score. The longer the Rangers lead – the better.
Some good news for the Rangers is they will get the return of Brendan Lemieux. Lemieux was suspended for the first two games and will provide some depth. Expect Steven Fogarty to come out of the lineup. Jesper Fast is not expected to be available.
It is likely that Quinn will make other minor changes including possible line changes and even a goalie change. While Lundqvist is not the reason the Rangers are currently trailing 0-2 in the series, changing the goalie to try to spark the team isn’t a bad idea. If Shesterkin is still unfit to play, Alex Georgiev has a chance of getting the start in game three.