Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren didn’t limp as he walked into the postgame interview room following the Blueshirts’ 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of the teams’ second-round playoff series Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
“I feel good,’’ Lindgren said. “Just a lower body thing, and something I'm not going to get into right now. But we’ve got great trainers and yeah, I'm feeling good.’’
Lindgren missed three games in the first round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a lower body injury after blocking a shot in the three-overtime loss in Game 1 of that series. He returned in Game 5 of that series, with the Rangers trailing three games to one, and has been in the lineup every game since, as the Rangers rallied to win the series, and advance to the second round series against the Hurricanes.
“You never want to be sitting out, especially during playoff time, but you know, you’ve got to be smart too, and take your time make sure that when you do get out there, you're feeling good and you can play to the best of your ability,’’ he said. “So like I said, our trainers are awesome. They helped me out a ton.’’
Lindgren had two assists in Game 4, and played 20 minutes and one second, finishing with three hits and one blocked shot.
Gallant puts Kakko on fourth line
In his pregame media briefing before the game, Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said the forward lines he planned on using for Game 4 would look a lot more like they did at the end of Game 3, than they did at the start of that game, when he broke up his Kid Line of Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko and placed each youngster on a different top-3 line.
He said there might be one small tweak.
The tweak turned out to be dropping Kakko, the No. 2 pick overall in the 2019 draft, to the fourth line, putting him at left wing with Kevin Rooney and Ryan Reaves. Tyler Motte, who scored the empty net goal in Game 3, moved up to take Kakko’s place on the third line, skating on the right of Lafrenière and Chytil.
Kakko, 21, missed the wide-open net late in the third period of Game 1 when he could have given the Rangers a 2-0 lead. The Hurricanes later tied the score and won it in overtime, 2-1.
Faceoffs have been a bugaboo for the Rangers for years, but their struggles at the dot have really been noticeable against the Hurricanes.
Entering Game 4, the Rangers had won 73 of 174 faceoffs (41.9%) in the series. Carolina was fourth-best in faceoffs during the regular season, winning draws at a rate of 53.9 percent. The Rangers, by comparison, were 24th in the league, with a win rate of 48.1 percent.
The numbers have forced Gallant and his staff to find ways to mitigate the damage.
“We always talk about winning faceoffs, what we're going to do, but when we're losing faceoffs in the ‘D’ zone, especially — on a few things in the neutral zone, too — that they do, when they're doing those plays, we’re prepared for them,’’ Gallant said Monday. “We hope we know what we're going to do. You know, it's not going to work perfect every time, but when a team does two or three different faceoff plays, we usually show that to our guys, and be prepared for this play if we lose the draw.’’
The Rangers won 18 faceoffs and lost 33 in Game 4.