Can NY Rangers, Lundqvist clamp down Lightning again?

Can NY Rangers, Lundqvist clamp down Lightning again?

The New York Rangers have given up 12 goals in the last two games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Prior to that? They hadn’t given up more than four goals but once, in the second game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1. They had given up one goal in eight of their previous 13 playoff games. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist had a save percentage of .944 entering the series. It’s now down to a mortal .926.

So what happened?

Game 2 was a gong-show. Twelve power plays between the teams turned the game on its ear, and the Rangers couldn’t exactly evaluate what went wrong because if it. Those games happen, and the Lightning simply converted their chances.

Game 3 was a little more concerning. The Bolts won the 5-on-5 possession game in the first and third period. It was more fire-wagon than the Rangers have played or would like to play, which was a function of needing to rally and New York opening up its offense. Tampa Bay’s speed was starting to become a determining factor in the series.

The result? A second straight loss.

“It's really challenging for me the way they move the puck. The way they find open ice in the slot, and scoring chances right in front,” said Lundqvist. “I just need to dig deep here to try to be more consistent with my game plan, try to challenge the shooter, then they pass and sometimes you stay back. As a team, if we can be a little bit better, but also I have to be better. Honestly, you're not going to win if I give up six goals."

Can the Rangers get back to the defensive basics of the rest of their run to the Eastern Conference Playoffs? Are they going to slow it down for Game 4?

“Honestly, I don't know. How do you slow a game down with two really fast teams?  I don't know. I've watched a lot of their games in the playoffs and when they tried to play fast, I mean, they were trying to play fast,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

"I don't think the games against Pittsburgh were really slow.  The Washington game was a fierce battle for seven games, where I thought Washington carried a lot of the play sometimes and the Rangers carried a bunch of the play sometimes.  There was, I don't know -- I think it's just two hockey teams trying to win a game, whether it's 6-5 or 2-1, they're still trying to win the game.  This was an overtime game, so it's a one-goaler, and it's just two teams battling.  I don't know if they tried to slow the game down.  I don't know if they have that in their game, maybe they do.  But we've played some pretty high-scoring games against them.  Not just us, but they score as well.”

The Rangers used their speed to clamp down teams in the neutral zone during the playoffs, but the Lightning’s speed and breakouts have really opened up the offensive creativity in the last two games. Combine that with some human efforts from Lundqvist, and you get 12 goals in two games.

Which is something Cooper doesn’t expect to see again in Game 4.

“Do I expect it 6-5 again? No, I don't.”