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Blame whoever you want: Penguins push Rangers to brink of elimination

Blame whoever you want: Penguins push Rangers to brink of elimination

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - MAY 09: K’Andre Miller #79 of the New York Rangers skates by as the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrate a goal by Mark Friedman #52 during the second period of Game Four of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena on May 09, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

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In Game 3, we saw the Penguins fumble a big lead against the Rangers, eventually holding on to win. In Game 4, the Penguins never opened that door, pushing the Rangers to the brink of elimination by winning 7-2.

The Rangers’ season will be on the line as the series shifts back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET).

Crosby, Penguins overwhelm Shesterkin, push Rangers to brink of elimination in Game 4

With Game 4 of Rangers - Penguins far out of reach, we shifted to a more subjective game: the blame game.

To start, the Rangers aren’t quite getting the not just Vezina Trophy-worthy, but possibly Hart-worthy goaltending from Igor Shesterkin. Certainly, Shesterkin carries some blame after being pulled from consecutive playoff losses.

All things considered, the Rangers would probably be lucky if Igor Shesterkin was the root of their problems against the Penguins. Instead, he merely is unable to bail his team out like he did so often during the regular season.

By just about any measure, the Penguins have dominated the Rangers during this First Round Series. It almost seems to be getting worse as things go along.

Generally, people gravitate toward blaming star players for playoff disappointments. Beyond Shesterkin, you can voice concern about someone like Artemi Panarin going through periods where he doesn’t make much of a positive impact.

Yet, when you’re under water to the extreme the Rangers have been against the Penguins, it’s foolish to blame any one player.

Crosby at the peak of his powers

Maybe it’s better to focus on some excellent Pittsburgh performances?

When things were tighter, Sidney Crosby was delivering. Crosby already came into Game 4 with six points in three playoff games, looking like he’s very much in his prime. Crosby became just the sixth player in NHL history to collect 200+ playoff points in this, his 178th career postseason contest.

Crosby led the way with those three points (1G, 2A), and Kris Letang collected two assists. But this was as much of a team win as anything else. Note, among other things, that both Mark Friedman and Mike Matheson scored goals in this victory.

After the trade deadline, New York cleaned up some of its glaring 5-on-5 issues. The Penguins have exposed the Rangers’ structural issues once again, however. Is there enough time to turn this around? Is the personnel really there?

If nothing else, maybe home cooking might do the Blueshirts some good.