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Official Rangers vs Thrashers Game 4 thread.


RaginCaucasian
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New York Rangers

-Sean Avery has been a major hit on Broadway, and drove Atlanta's Kovalchuk to such a state of distraction in Tuesday's Game 3 that Kovalchuk dropped his gloves. Avery cost the Rangers relatively little, and right now is looming as the best pre-deadline acquisition by any NHL club.

Lopsided doesn't begin to describe this playoff tilt

By E.J. Hradek

ESPN The Magazine

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NEW YORK -- It was death by forecheck for the Thrashers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The pesky New Yorkers, led by a dynamic performance by first-liners Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander and Marcel Hossa, scored three goals in the first 12:26 en route a stunningly easy 7-0 win over Atlanta.

 

 

Now, after a complete Thrashing (sorry, they earned it), these woeful Thrashers have less than 24 hours to find an answer to the Rangers' suddenly relentless attack. If they can't, the franchise's first trip to the playoffs will end Wednesday night.

 

"It was obvious they wanted it more," Thrashers veteran Bobby Holik said. "To play like this tonight, clearly something is missing. We have 20 hours to find it."

 

 

Good luck.

 

 

This game swung early on as the Thrashers' defensemen were clearly overmatched by the Rangers' forwards from the opening faceoff. I don't know if I've ever seen a group of defenders so overwhelmed in their own end during a playoff game.

 

 

Atlanta's six blueliners, the weakest part of their team, were under duress throughout the one-sided game. They couldn't move the puck cleanly to the club's skilled forwards, who didn't seem too interested in backchecking, either.

 

 

To make matters worse, embattled young goalie Kari Lehtonen looked lost in his crease. He was too often out of position, leaving rebounds all over the slot. Not surprisingly, Atlanta coach Bob Hartley will go back to veteran goalie Johan Hedberg for Game 4. Hedberg played well in a 2-1 loss in Game 2. But, despite that strong performance, Hartley tossed his kid goalie into the New York spotlight. Then, he left him there.

 

 

"Kari didn't deserve that," said Hartley, who has confused even the most astute Thrashers watchers with his goaltending moves in this series. "But, because we have to come back and play [Wednesday], we felt it was best to leave him in the game."

 

 

In other words, he didn't want to burn out his last-chance starter Hedberg by throwing him into that mess.

 

 

Like most in the building, Hartley believed the game was lost early.

 

 

"We talked about getting a good start," Hartley said. "Then, we get a poor read on the first shift and bang, it's 1-0. I felt our whole bench freeze. That gave them tremendous energy and killed us right there. After that, we weren't willing to take a check or do the little things."

 

 

Holik agreed.

 

 

"... We needed to come together as a team," Holik said. "This has happened to this team in the past. We can't have that."

 

 

Holik, who can be counted on for an honest assessment of his team's play, appeared to have a very good idea where the club's troubles stemmed from. On this night, with his team still clinging to life, Holik bit his lip.

 

 

"It not the time," he said. "We didn't have any passion or heart in our game tonight. We have to find a way to get that into our effort [Wednesday]."

 

 

Thrashers center Keith Tkachuk, who, along with linemates Ilya Kovalchuk and Scott Mellanby, made a bad line change on the game's first shift that led to the first of Michael Nylander's three goals, didn't mince his words, either.

 

 

"We didn't compete," Tkachuk said. "We deserved everything we got tonight. We did a terrible job and we hung our goalie out to dry. We have to comeback [in Game 4] and compete."

 

 

The competitive spirit must come from the team's top players. In this series, Tkachuk has allowed Rangers pest Sean Avery to get under his skin. Following the lead of his more "experienced" teammate, Kovalchuk has fallen into the same trap. The goal-scoring winger initiated a fight with Avery in the third period.

 

 

"Down 5-0, I was trying to get something going," Kovalchuk said.

 

 

At that point, of course, it was probably a little late for that.

 

 

Meanwhile, Marian Hossa, Marcel's brother, has been a complete no-show in the series. So much so, you have to wonder if he's hiding some sort of injury problem. If not, he's got some explaining to do, eh?

 

 

If Atlanta's big guns don't lead the competitive charge in Game 4, the Thrashers have no chance to get to Game 5.

 

More from Game 3

• Referees Tim Peel and Don Van Massenhoven and linesmen Greg Devorski and Thor Nelson should be commended for keeping the rout under control. This game could have easily gotten out of hand. Nice work, guys.

 

• Nylander's hat trick was the first playoff hat trick by a Ranger since Wayne Gretzky netted three against the Flyers in the 1997 Eastern Conference finals.

 

 

• Rangers rookie winger Ryan Callahan enjoyed a terrific home playoff debut, scoring a pair of goals.

 

 

• New York's top defensive pair, Michal Rozsival and Marek Malik, combined for a plus-6 in Game 3.

-- E.J. Hradek

 

Let's Go Rangers!!!! :clap::rock:

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Amazing. Somebody actually gets past the first round.

 

Now, MAYBE can I see more than just one game on TV? I know it's the NHL...but c'mon it's the fucking playoffs. The TV coverage of this series was awful.

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