New York Rangers Stars Wilting In Florida Panthers Heat

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

What’s funny is how it almost happened again. The stars in white jerseys were almost given another free pass.

Akin to Game 3, the New York Rangers were the Florida Panthers punching bag in every facet of Game 4 on Tuesday. Over the final 40 minutes of regulation, following an opening frame in which the Blueshirts dictated the play and led 1-0 on a Vincent Trocheck power play snipe, Florida controlled the contest. The shot attempts in the latter two regulation frames were 67-17 for the Panthers. Shots on goal? 27-10 Florida. Scoring chances were 34-8, while high-danger chances finished 15-2 for the Cats, and the expected goals were 3.29-1.78. Yet we had a 2-2 contest and were in overtime for the third straight game, primarily thanks to the Igor Shesterkin show. He was spectacular between the pipes again, which gave you hope the Rangers would emerge victorious as they did 5-4 in overtime on Sunday, despite the shot attempts being 108-44 in favor of Florida. 

This time, the game-winner wouldn’t be from Alex Wennberg but Alexis Lafreniere. 

Lafreniere, after his two-goal game on Sunday, came up big again in this one. Adam Fox pulled off a sweet spinning backhanded pass, sending the puck to Lafreniere, who was charging towards the far post. Lafreniere managed to redirect the puck out of the air and into the net, tying it up at 2-2 with 16:32 left in regulation.

Related Post: Florida Panthers vs. New York Rangers Game Recap | 05/28/2024

Only this time, the Blueshirts finally got what they deserved and were defeated 3-2 overtime. Why did they deserve this? Because it’s hard to win when your top three players are taking trips in Invisible Town.

The fatal blow came off the stick of one of the culprits. Following a brutal turnover at the top of the offensive zone from Mika Zibanejad, his pass to Blake Wheeler was intercepted. It sprung Selke winner Aleksander Barkov and caught Wheeler, who was admirably noticeable in his return from a four-month injury, flat-footed. He was forced to take a penalty. It led to the Sam Reinhart game-winning goal, which has squared this series headed back to Madison Square Garden for a pivotal Game 5 on Thursday. 

No Mika Magic:

Zibanejad has been a no-show in this series. He has no points in four games and has struggled defensively, even though he did save the game by breaking up a Florida chance late in regulation. The effort is there, but the execution isn’t.

However, he’s not alone. His linemate, Chris Kreider, seems to have left his mojo in Carolina and has been bested at his power play net front game by Reinhart. It also doesn’t help that the trade deadline piece Jack Rosolovic was so bad he was removed from the top line for the second time this series. Granted, they have faced Florida’s powerhouse trio of Carter Verhaeghe, Barkov, and Reinhart, so there’s little room to operate. 

With Kreider and Zibanejad on in Game 4, the Rangers were outshot 21-5, and scoring chances were 11-2.

Kreider nor Zibanejad has managed to tally a single point in this series so far. It’s a tough pill for the Rangers when two top players come up short like that. They spent most of Game 4 stuck in their defensive zone, barely able to generate any offensive pressure. Yet even when they have chances to prove themselves on special teams, it hasn’t worked. The Rangers are 1 for 11 on the man advantage, though it looked better in their three attempts on Tuesday. However, the penalty kill has yielded five power-play goals in the last three games, technically six if you count Sam Bennett’s rebound tally to get Florida on the board as their first one expired. The second was a batted-down man-advantage marker from Verhaeghe before Reinhart won it in overtime. 

Stale Bread:

Below the top line’s downfall, Artemi Panarin has reverted to the bread we saw in last year’s playoffs, where he went scoreless in seven games against the New Jersey Devils. Yet this year, with his new bald head and shoot-first mentality en route to a career-high 120-point season, those ghosts seemed to have left. Even through the first two rounds, he was impactful. However, the $11.5 million man has been held in check through the first four games of this series, and even though he had two assists in Game 4, he didn’t do much outside of that. That is even more shocking, considering Trocheck and Lafreniere have soared.

Defensively, there’s the captain Jacob Trouba, who, after taking three penalties in Game 3 and being fined $5,000 for his elbow on Evan Rodrigues, made the mistake of leaving Reinhart wide open in overtime. Trouba, like his fellow defenseman, has been overwhelmed by Florida’s forecheck, especially when they’ve had the last change. 

Stars Need To Shine:

In the two games played in Florida, the Rangers were out-attempted 154-65 at even strength yet have outscored them 5-3 and 7-5 in the series. The difference is on special teams, where Florida leads 5-2. That’s where your “special” players need to shine. The Panthers stars have shown up, but the Rangers haven’t. Depth scoring by Barclay Goodrow has been great, and the Shestekrinator is authoring a series for the ages, but both factors can only get you so far in a seven-game series. New York is fortunate to be tied in this series, but that’s the power of a super goaltender.

Yet, the way these Blueshirts have been playing, being forced into too many chaotic man-on-man situations in the defensive zone, and losing puck battles along the boards, it’ll be hard to win one more game, let alone two and even six. 

Eventually, your best players have to be the best ones, which starts now in the latter half of the series, which has become a best of three. 

As Mark Messier says, “You make your money in the regular season, but in the playoffs is where you make your name.” Each series is a clean slate because it’s a new opponent. However, it’s also a new opportunity to rise to the occasion as the stakes rise, yet the Rangers stars have only fallen. 

In this weeks episode Will Wright from Blueseatblogs comes on to discuss the Trouba situation, Prospects, Mika and more.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Guest Will Wright
  2. There's more to come……….Right ?
  3. Guest Colin Stephenson
  4. Guest HockeyStatMiner
  5. Many Directions, One Goal

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