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

More NHL News

NHL Rink Wrap: Star power saves Leafs, but Kings overcome McDavid Left for dead, top Maple Leafs stars push Lightning to brink Canadiens win 2022 NHL Draft Lottery; Devils luck into 2nd pick

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Wraparound: Can Rangers slow Penguins down? originally appeared on NBCSports.com