The Wraparound: Can Rangers slow Penguins down?

The Wraparound: Can Rangers slow Penguins down?
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The Wraparound is your daily look at the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down the NHL playoff games today with the all-important television information.

• Catch up with all of Tuesday’s Stanley Cup playoff action with the NHL Rink Wrap right here

• The Canadiens won the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery, and thus the right to the No. 1 overall pick. While they didn’t get the top spot, the Devils’ run of luck continued by jumping from the fifth-best odds to No. 2.

• After 23 years in the NHL (enough to set a new games-played record), Patrick Marleau has retired.

Igor Shesterkin, Juuse Saros, and Jacob Markstrom were announced as the Vezina Trophy finalists.

After a lopsided Game 4 win for the Penguins, people were debating which Rangers to blame.

Do you drop it mostly at Igor Shesterkin’s feet? It would certainly be comforting. If it’s the goalie’s fault, then you can at least picture a turnaround. Maybe that means Shesterkin turning things around. Failing that, perhaps a goalie change could make a difference.

It’s more troubling when the truth is that you can spread the blame wide. The Rangers only have so much time to find answers, as the Penguins can eliminate them in Game 5 (7 p.m. ET — ESPN (PIT leads 3-1]).

That said, it’s probably best that the Rangers aren’t being delusional: the Penguins have been all over them during this series.

“Total team disappointment,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said after Game 4. “It’s a team effort. [Shesterkin] will be back in there ready to win the next game on Wednesday night. I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him.”

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

That was especially true in Game 4, but look closely and you’ll see it’s a series-wide problem.

Aside from Game 3 (where the Rangers generated a 55.92 expected goals percentage), the Penguins have absolutely dominated at 5-on-5. Overall, the Penguins have more than a 70% share in high-danger chances at 5-on-5 (78-33).

Leaf through a wide variety of stats at a site like Natural Stat Trick, and you’ll see that these are the sort of disparities that a goalie will struggle to offset. Even one on a historic run like Igor Shesterkin.

During the regular season, the Rangers were frequently a team that put up alarmingly bad even-strength stats, but kept winning based on Shesterkin, a lethal power play, luck, and more Shesterkin.

It must be unsettling, really, that their power play’s at least been decent (22%), but certainly not dominant enough to make a difference. It begs the question: are there even answers to find? Maybe they can find some of that wild, dangerous energy from the first period of Game 1?

Or maybe Igor Shesterkin can regain his superpowers and get them back in this series?

NHL PLAYOFF GAMES TODAY

Game 5: Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers, 7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN2 (Series tied 2-2): There’s a lot of good news for the Panthers. After being minute(s) away from getting pushed to the brink of elimination, they instead come home with a 2-2 series tie. They also dominated shot share.

But there are still reasons for concern. For much of Game 4, the Capitals greatly limited the Panthers’ high-danger chances. Florida is still struggling to look like the team that won the Presidents’ Trophy. This feels like their chance to “impose their will” — really, their style — on this surprisingly close series.

Game 5: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames, 9:30 p.m. ET — ESPN (Series tied 2-2): Speaking of surprisingly close, the Flames have not had an easy time with the stingy Stars. That said, Game 4 looked more like what we expected from this series: the Flames overwhelming, the Stars hanging on for dear life. Johnny Gaudreau even broke through. Yet, the series is tied, and the sometimes-home-dependent Stars have already beaten the Flames on the road in this series.

Chances are, this will be another grinding affair.

THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 6: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. ET — TNT (CAR leads 3-2)
Game 6: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET — TBS (TOR leads 3-2)
Game 6: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues, 9:30 p.m. ET — TNT (TOR leads 3-2)
Game 6: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings, 10 p.m. ET — TBS (LAK leads 3-2)

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
• Penguins vs. Rangers
• Panthers vs. Capitals
Blues vs. Wild
Oilers vs. Kings
Flames vs. Stars

First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.