Blueshirts look to avoid the series sweep against Carolina tonight
Well, this is going just about as bad as it can go for the Rangers. After dominating the regular-season series, the Rangers have dropped two straight games to Carolina. New York now finds itself down two games to none and on the brink of heading home. I think the Rangers will be able to stave off elimination today, but I don’t have confidence in them to turn come all the way back and win the series.
Carolina was in the driver’s seat the whole game when the Hurricanes and Rangers faced off yesterday. They did take an early one nothing lead, but Artemi Panarin came alive to tie the game up at one apiece a little over midway through the first period. After that, it was all Carolina all the way through. The Hurricanes’ Andrei Svechnikov chose an excellent time to have his first NHL hat trick, as the 20-year-old winger recorded a goal in every period. It marked the first postseason hat trick in Carolina Hurricanes’ history. Jordan Marinook also added a goal of his own to give the Canes the eventual 4-1 win.
There were a few encouraging things the Rangers did in that game yesterday as well as a few discouraging things. Unfortunately, Henrik Lundqvist was given very little help from the Rangers’ defense. King Henrik was only able to make 30 out of 34 saves for a save percentage below 90%. Furthermore, the Blueshirts were held to even fewer shots on goal then they had in game one. I was sure that the Rangers’ offense would take a step back in game two, but I didn’t think they would end up being that bad.
One of the positive takeaways from the game was that the Rangers look to have found a little bit of rhythm on the power play. New York went 1/4 on the Power Play yesterday, a vast improvement from when they went 0 for 7 on the power play opportunity on Saturday. Beyond that, there were very few positive results from yesterday’s 4-1 shelling.
At the moment, the spotlight looks too big for New York. I am confident in Henrik Lundqvist. The goalie has recorded the most postseason starts in Rangers’ history, so he is no stranger to playing in meaningful games. Also, Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad do have four points in the last two games, but the rest of the team has been lackluster on both offense and defense.
Unfortunately, the Rangers have not been as tough as the Hurricanes have been. Carolina has been able to dictate the pace of play and is forcing the Blueshirts to play Carolina-style hockey rather than New York’s brand of hockey. The Hurricanes do a good job of crowding the net on defense so that every shot feels like it is contested or blocked. While I believe the Canes have the gameplan to win the series, I don’t think they close out the Rangers tonight.
I am picking the Blueshirts in this game. Before play started up again, I thought that the Rangers would win the series in five games because of offense. However, I changed my prediction following game one. I now believe the Hurricanes will win the series three to one in four games. I think the Rangers will snag their only win tonight. New York is desperate, so I expect them to come out and hit the Canes hard and play fast like they have something to prove. Plus, I love the idea of having Henrik Lundqvist in net for an elimination game. His past playoff experience will pay off for the Blueshirts as they win their only game of their series without hitting the over-under that is set at 5.5.