Brewing bad blood with Carolina isn’t rattling New York Rangers heading into Game 4

NHL Metro Division
New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller (79) pulls Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck (16) off Rangers center Ryan Strome (16) in the first period of Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series.
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

Ryan Reaves seemed calm, cool and collected when he met with reporters on Monday morning in Westchester. There were no visible nerves or any extra emotions as he was peppered with questions about the increased nastiness of the New York Rangers’ second-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Sunday’s 3-1 Rangers win ended with sparks as Ryan Lindgren and Max Domi mixed it up and head coach Gerard Gallant was seen verbally jousting with Tony DeAngelo as he was leaving the ice. The first taste of bad blood between the two top teams in the Metropolitan Division. 

“It happens in playoff games,” Reaves said about the nastiness. “I guess guys feel a little braver because scrums like that probably aren’t gonna result in anything. I wish I was a little quicker to the scrum for sure. I was a little behind, but I wish I would’ve grabbed him first.”

Now as the Rangers turn their gaze onto Game 4 on Tuesday night, the outside focus turns to see if any of the nastiness spills over as well. Gallant tried to downplay the drama from Sunday by saying it was in the past and that the games were too important to get lost in minor issues like that, but the Rangers bench boss was plenty heated the day before. 

up until Game 3, the series had a much more buttoned-down feel in the first two games as the defense was king and shots and goals came at a premium. It was a much different story in Game 4 as the Hurricanes and Blue Shirts registered a combined 77 shots and the physicality was ratcheted up. 

New York Rangers
New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) is restrained by linesman Ryan Gibbons (58) after a 3-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes.Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

And that bad blood that might brewing isn’t a bad thing either in the eyes of Gallant. The Rangers coach said the extra nastiness doesn’t hurt and can help the team focus a bit more. 

Reaves seemed to agree with that notion. 

“If you looked at some games that that’s happened throughout the year, the more guys get engaged,” Reaves said. “Some of those top guys I think they start playing a little bit more physical, getting in battles a little bit more. I think our team kind of thrives on that. Some teams shy away, I think we do well with it.” 

The Blue Shirts will take any shot in the arm they can get as they work to rally from the 0-2 hole they had found themselves in after the first two games of the series. Sunday’s win helped cut the deficit to one, which is why Gallant doesn’t want his team to overreact. 

Gallant indirectly appeared to reference Reaves on Sunday and what he can do in response to the shenanigans that occurred in Game 3, but on Monday took a more even keeled approach when discussing the comment. 

“He knows his role. He’s 35 years old,” Gallant said. “I don’t have to say stuff to those guys, and again, last night in the heat of the moment you’re pissed off, games over and you get a big win. Today you move on. Tomorrow is a huge game, so you don’t do something stupid. There’s an opportunity to make sure you make people pay a price, but you worry about winning the game and getting the series at 2-2. That’s the biggest thing.” 

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For Reaves’ part, he didn’t seem to be under the impression that he needed to change anything in his game in response. 

“I’m gonna go do my thing,” Reaves said. Go run some people and get in their face. Try and get the same result as last night, another win.”