Tonight the New York Rangers will face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time in the last 24 hours. Game 3 also marks the third game in four days between the two franchises. All of this is comes after a grueling seven game series with the Philadelphia Flyers, in which the Rangers were awarded a single day off before they had to start another series with the Keystone State’s other franchise.
The word “fatigue” was included in nearly every preview of the Penguins / Rangers series, and the majority of the concern focused on the New York Rangers. Sure, the Penguins did not have an easy series with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who to everyone’s surprise took Pittsburgh to Game 6, but let’s not forget that the Penguins did not lose once in regulation in that series.
After a 3-2 overtime win by the Rangers in Game 1, it appeared that perhaps fatigue would not be an issue for the Rangers. With the short break between series, it appeared the Rangers would ride the momentum from eliminating the Flyers into the series with Pittsburgh.
Game 2 has caused the discussion of fatigue to rear its ugly head once again, as the Rangers were shutout 3-0 and were outplayed by the Penguins in nearly ever facet of the game. New York’s power play is not in the midst of a 0-29 drought. Even more concerning was the final 11;38 of the game that went without a shot from the Rangers.
Right now the Rangers could use a day off to regroup and catch their breath, but instead the series returns to Madison Square Garden for the second of back to back games. If the Penguins win tonight they will take back home ice advantage in the series.
Taking on one of the NHL’s elite teams, especially one that led the Metropolitan Division for the entirety of the 2013-14 season, is a tall enough order for the Rangers. Having to do it on such a condensed playoff schedule just makes it that much harder for the New York Rangers.