New York Rangers Blueshirt Beat 4/21/17: Game 5 Recap, News, and Notes
Apr 20, 2017; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; The New York Rangers including goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) react after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime in game five of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

ESNY recaps the New York Rangers’ Game 5 win over Montreal plus some news and notes on a potential new signing.

The New York Rangers have opened up a new side to their game these last two nights of the series. Called out and plagued by “soft” play, the Rangers were consistently trying to be too cute in the neutral zone and seemed unwilling to chip the puck in deep and forecheck. But they seem to have righted the ship and big credit to the players for adjusting. Now, things aren’t all peaches and cake and there is still much work to be done, however, the team is trending in a much better direction than after Game 3.

Jimmy Vesey‘s work along the wall and Rick Nash taking the puck to the net led to the game-tying goal for Brady Skjei. This is just one of the examples of the Rangers changing the narrative in their play.

Let us not forget how angry Ryan McDonagh played last night. The captain was incredible all night, per the usual, and leveled Andrew Shaw and Brendan Gallagher on clean hard hits.

Brendan Smith has shown capable ability as a top four defenseman. He’s been an absolute warrior all series, and seems to be more fleet of foot than Girardi (who’s been outstanding) and Marc Staal who’s costly turnover led to Montreal’s first goal. But Smith is providing some physical play and has meshed nicely, despite playing on his off side.

And obviously, the much maligned Mika Zibanejed finally made his presence felt with the OT goal. Mika took a deflected puck off a shot attempt from Chris Kreider and buried it home for his first of the playoffs.

The Rangers now head back to the Garden for Game 6 and a chance to close out the series. Expect to see the same lineup for Game 6 as well.

As well as the Rangers played, they’re still some serious issues. It’s amazing to me that a couple of our leading scorers have not made any impact at all. Kevin Hayes looks slow and passive and he seems to be trying to use his stick to reach everywhere on the ice, instead of moving his feet. Hayes is no burner, so when he’s not using his feet, he’s useless. Now, I get he has been great in the faceoff dot, but we need more. JT Miller has also been a no-show. Miller is known to play a grittier game, but at this point, Jimmy Vesey seems to be playing grittier than Miller. Miller needs to take a deep breath it looks like. His turnover at the blue line at the end of a shift, followed by his ill-timed slashing penalty in the third, was just an absolutely brutal series of events. If there’s one place you can’t turn the puck over, it’s at any blueline. Chris Kreider however, became more apparent this game and made himself more known. He was better below the goal line where he was a stronger physical presence and obviously contributed the Game Winning assist. If these three can find their games, there’s no reason this team can’t make a run.

Defensive Help Coming?

Alexei Bereglazov has been rumored to be signing with the Rangers at the conclusion of his KHL season. Bereglazov is a towering 6’4″ defenseman who moves well for his size according to reports. He has represented Russia at the World Junior Championships. Bereglazov is a left-hander who is 23 years old.

Check out this small scouting report on Bereglazov here.

Neal Purcell has a tremendous passion for New York Rangers hockey and the sport of hockey in general. A graduate of SUNY Cortland in Upstate NY, Purcell coaches both a high school hockey team and a travel team in the winter. Purcell is also a part of a small family business in the Central New York Region.