That face pretty much sums up Sidney Crosby’s night after the Rangers used a suffocating defense to hold the NHL’s best player scoreless with a -3.
Crosby is now without a goal in the last 11 playoff games.
Crosby was also held to just three shots and expressed frustration throughout the night. Most notably when he shot the puck over the boards after the whistle in the first period…
I swear, Crosby’s going to see Marc Staal in his nightmares.
Craig Berube tried keeping Claude Giroux away from Ryan McDonagh & Dan Girardi and now Dan Bylsma is attempting to do it with Crosby. The only problem is Staal and Anton Stralman are there waiting.
Right now, the Rangers basically have a #1 and #1a defensive pairs. Their blueline depth has neutralized the Penguins advantage of having the final line change on home ice as there’s really no drop-off between the duos right now.
Add in some solid support from the Rangers forwards and there’s really not much room out there for the Penguins offensive juggernaut to do their thing.
So how did Alain Vigneault come up with a coaching strategy against the Penguins? Apparently it was by watching tape of a couple of former Rangers shutting Crosby & his mates down in the first round (via New York Post)…
“Pulled an all-nighter – remember my school days. Popped a blood vessel in my eye from watching so many games. So, yeah, me and all the coaches had a very long night.”
Derrick Brassard discussed what he learned from the video sessions…
“We had a chance to see the way they played, and the way Columbus [brought] their game to them. We can learn a lot from the way Columbus put everything behind the defensemen, made them defend. They forechecked very hard, they didn’t pass up many shots. That’s something that we’re going to try to do.”
Obviously, with so much focus on Crosby, the one worry is Evgeni Malkin, especially when Bylsma puts the two on a line together. If Malkin gets hot, it’s going to force the Rangers to play off Crosby a bit which is all he needs to get himself a quality scoring opportunity.
It wasn’t all sunshine for the Rangers on defense in Game 1 as they were put back on their heels in the second period when they had issues picking up the trailing player twice, but Vigneault made the proper adjustments and it wasn’t a problem for the remainder of the game.
For a superstar player, Crosby sure hangs his head a lot. So if the Rangers can continue to get in his head with swarming defense, they’re going to have a great chance of winning this series.