GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Rangers and Lightning on Wednesday had some fireworks at the end. All 10 skaters were assessed roughing penalties after a lengthy skirmish in the Tampa Bay zone with 1:46 left in the Rangers’ 6-2 victory.
This time, there was no video of Rangers coach Gerard Gallant yelling at one of the Lightning players, because according to Gallant, this sort of thing is not out of the ordinary at the end of one-sided playoff games.
“Yeah, usually something happens … when the game's not going well,’’ Gallant said. “It was nothing major -- a bunch of roughing and pushing and trying to set the tone for the next game.’’
One of the players in the middle of it was 20-year-old Rangers rookie Braden Schneider, who grappled with Tampa Bay forward Brandon Hagel and defenseman Cal Foote.
The 6-2, 202-pound Schneider plays a rugged, physical game, but he is not an accomplished fighter. He only had one fight in the regular season, against the Devils’ Yegor Sharangovich, and he only had one in his junior career. Still, he showed no fear jumping into the fray as players were pairing off in the incident.
“I just jumped in there,’’ Schneider said. “I don't want our guys to be outnumbered. I want to make sure that everyone has a man, and everyone is battling, and each battle is fair. I think every little battle out there is one that matters. So I think we're trying to win as many of them as you can, whether it's a scrum in the corner, standing up for one of your teammates. I think everyone is important. So I just went in there with the mindset to win and make sure that my guys are okay.’’