Rangers Forwards Will Have To Show Up At MSG For Pivotal Game 4

Three games & three Stalberg teeth ago when this matchup was made official, not too many were giving the Rangers a shot against the streaking Penguins. It’s been a close one through so far. After splitting a pair in Pittsburgh they returned to MSG for another disheartening home effort to let the favorites pull ahead again. I’m very aware of how they’ve erased a 3-1 deficit in each of their prior two postseasons – but expecting the Blueshirts to replicate their 2013-14 series against these Pens is asking a hell of a lot. The team that finished the regular season with the second-fewest home losses needs to show up in full effect tonight & make this a best-of-3.

You know what would help? ANYTHING at all from the deadline deal some said filled exactly what the Rangers needed. Instead, Eric Staal has been exactly what I expected – useless. Offensively, he managed to put himself on the score sheet in just 4 of 20 games after arriving from Carolina. He’s yet to be on the ice for a Rangers goal in the playoffs (not that there’s been a ton) but has been there for 7 of 10 Penguins tallies. Worst possession numbers for any forward not named Glass. I understand expectations weren’t for the elder Staal to turn back the clock 3-4 years but he’s brought very little to the table. His role in NY is much simpler than it was as “the man” for the Canes. He had enough left in the tank to thrive with less responsibility. A return to the postseason for the first time in 7 years was gonna spark the veteran & squeeze some good hockey out of him. Those projections couldn’t have been more wrong. Staal has gotta dig deep tonight & find a way to make the Blueshirts more than a two-line squad.

That’s not to take any of the onus off of their top six. FOUR third-period shots on goal (three by defensemen) down one on home ice is absolutely inexcusable. After answering the bell in Game 2 the Rangers scoring lines went silent & Matt Murray could’ve slept through a majority of his playoff debut. Obviously that can’t happen again. They’ve got to be smarter with their zone entry, better on the forecheck & make the 21 year-old Murray have to earn his game pay. When they’re not colliding with each other, NY has been solid defensively these past two tilts & that’s supposed to have been the hard part. If the offense can’t get it done again tonight, this series might not make it through the weekend.