PHT Morning Skate: Rangers looking for Game 4 rebound

10 Comments

The New York Rangers are hoping a day off will do them a world of good.

After a run of playing five games in seven days and falling behind 2-1 in the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a simple day of rest might be the cure for what ails the Broadway Blueshirts.

The Pens are hoping that’s not quite the case as they’re looking to head back home for Game 5 with a 3-1 lead.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $750 Fantasy Hockey league that includes Wednesday and Thursday night’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $200. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Game 4: New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins [Pittsburgh leads series 2-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

One thing the Rangers have to hope for heading into Game 4 is that Sidney Crosby getting the goal-scoring monkey off his back in Game 3 isn’t a sign that there’s more to come. Crosby has had an outstanding playoffs even without scoring, but now that he’s got one it could mean the dam is about to break open.

One change Pens coach Dan Bylsma made that’s benefited the team is having Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz work together as a line to turn up the pressure on the Rangers defense. At times that line has been dominant for Pittsburgh, and guys like Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi have had to spend a lot of energy to slow them down. That on top of playing a manic schedule has made life hard for New York, but they’ve got their own problems to figure out.

The Rangers power play has been a mess all playoffs long and it’s been costing them against the Penguins. The number of chances they’ve had with the man-advantage have been enough to turn the tide in the series, but instead it’s giving Pittsburgh the chance to seize the day.

If the Rangers are going to even this series up, they’re going to need points from Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis. Those two are the biggest offensive threats they have but don’t have much to show for it this round. Nash in particular could use a goal as he’s yet to score one in these playoffs.

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

Leave a comment

Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

Leave a comment

Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.

Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

6 Comments

BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

Leave a comment

Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

“Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

***

In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.