After Game 4, New York Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant didn’t spit the vitriol that former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien seemed to have for his team back in 2006, but the words sounded similar.
The Rangers postgame had every hallmark of the long-remembered Therrien beatdown in Pittsburgh. Back in 2006, the head coach ripped his team in the memorable “soff” tirade that included, of the several memorable lines, “they say they care, but they don’t.”
Gallant was not pleased with the Rangers’ waning effort as the Penguins pummeled them in a 7-2 win, pushing the Rangers to the brink of elimination. Sidney Crosby had his sixth consecutive multi-point playoff game against New York. Evgeni Malkin scored, as did Jeff Carter. Even the Penguins’ power-play looked stellar.
“Disappointment” was Gallants’s one-word answer to his first question.
“Total team disappointment” was his second answer before diving into his team’s lackluster game.
“We got away from it. One goal, two goals. We played soft, were soft all over the ice. That’s the biggest difference. We’re soft all over the ice,” the coach said.
The Penguins scored more goals in the second period than they scored against New York in four regular-season games. New York didn’t respond in the third period, either. They managed just five shots in the third and 24 shots overall.
The Pittsburgh Penguins flexed their muscles and dominated New York over most of the last four periods. The Penguins chased all-world goalie Igor Shesterkin in both Game 3 and 4. The Penguins hung 10 goals on Shesterkin over his last three periods.
For a goalie with a 2.05 GAA and a .935 save percentage, getting rung up was a culture shock for New York. However, Shesterkin was spared his head coach’s criticism. In fact, Gallant already anointed him as the starter in Game 5.
“He’s probably real frustrated. I mean, I don’t know. There are probably four goals that were deflected tonight. So again, it’s a team effort, and he’ll be back in there, and he’ll be ready to win the next game on Wednesday night. So I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him.”
New York has been without Barclay Goodrow, who was signed as a free agent after back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay. Goodrow is a big piece of New York’s personality and one of their gritty players. Without him and defenseman Ryan Lindgren, the physicality of the series has dipped.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have surged, but Gallant didn’t excuse his team.
“I wouldn’t use the word inexperienced. I’ve used the word ‘not committed to playing the right way.’ And I mean, we played the right way in New York. There’s no reason why we (couldn’t) play the right way tonight. And it’s not from the inexperienced guys either. I mean, they were part of our group. But tonight, you’ve seen a lot of stuff, bad plays by a lot of people. It was a team effort tonight.”