Gerard Gallant needs to spark his ‘disappointing’ Rangers

They say momentum doesn’t carry over from one game to the next in the NHL playoffs.

Well you sure fooled me!

After losing to New Jersey Devils in overtime in Game 3, the New York Rangers allowed a goal to Jack Hughes just 2:50 into Game 4. From there, the Blueshirts were playing hope hockey as they were outskated, outhustled, and outworked all night en route to a 3-1 loss and a series now even at two.

“Very disappointing. Not even close to good enough,” Gerard Gallant said afterwards. “It was real disappointing to watch that.”

The scene now shifts back to New Jersey on Thursday for a pivotal Game 5 against the Devils, who regained home ice advantage in what is now a best-of-three series.

Gerard Gallant needs to spark this team

New York Rangers Gerard Gallant
Feb 25, 2023; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers Gerard Gallant argues with referee Jacob Brenk (26) against the Washington Capitals in the first period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers’ head coach was right to use the word “disappointing” in describing his team. Not just because they played a poor hockey game, but because this group of players with names like Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox, and Patrick Kane were a no-show in a crucial playoff contest.

“The overtime game could have gone either way,” Gallant noted. “We didn’t show up (tonight). We didn’t compete hard enough. All we did was yap at the linesman for getting thrown out of the face-off. A lot of bad things tonight.”

A bevy of other Rangers played on the perimeter for most of the match including Artemi Panarin, Filip Chytil, and Vladimir Tarasenko to name a few. Almost every time Panarin had the puck, he was along the boards looking to make long cross-ice passes that were negated by the Devils’ defenders.

“First two games we were chipping in pucks and getting pressure,” Gallant frustratingly explained. “Tonight, our weakside winger was a little bit lazy and stayed on the other side of the ice watching the play instead of supporting it.

“How many times did you see us whipping pucks across and the [Devils] picking them off in the middle? It’s the old recipe when you look tired and lazy. We didn’t show up well enough to win a hockey game.”

Some pretty scathing criticism from the Rangers bench boss that has guided this team to 97 wins and a trip to the Eastern Conference Final in his first two seasons on Broadway.

So now the task at hand is for Gallant to find a way to motivate his charges and get them to play hard-nosed playoff hockey. That goes for every player on the team and not just the big names mentioned earlier.

Sadly, this squad shouldn’t need motivating after getting so close to a Stanley Cup Final last season up 2-0 in the ECF against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Very similar to this current series, the Rangers looked great in the first two contests before fizzling out in four straight.

Did the Rangers learn anything from that experience?

Gallant should be putting this team through the wringer today. A reminder that if you aren’t going to lay it all on the ice when it counts, you’re going to have to do it during practice when it doesn’t.

By the way, he did this against the Pittsburgh Penguins last year after the Rangers fell in Game 4 to go down 3-1 in the series. At practice prior to Game 5, Gallant had his team doing ‘Herbies’, which were made famous by 1980 Team USA Olympics head coach Herb Brooks.

The Rangers went on to beat the Penguins in 7 games.

What motivational tactic will Gallant have today? We’re going to find out.

Update: NYR will not practice today. Next practice scheduled for tomorrow at 12 pm.

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