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Regarding the Rangers, who come home to the building in which they have lost five consecutive playoff games dating back to Game 2 of the 2015 conference finals by an aggregate score of 18-3, while at the same time going 4-4 away from the Garden:
1. So, then, Derek Stepan, would you then agree the pressure shifts to the Rangers for Sunday’s Game 3 on Broadway after allowing Friday’s Game 2 to get away with 17.3 seconds to go in regulation?
“There is pressure and momentum surges during games, but I would like to believe that pressure does not shift from game to game,” the alternate captain told The Post after the Canadiens’ 4-3 overtime victory on Friday squared the series at 1-1. “There is always enough internal and external pressure in the playoffs to deal with, so you cannot allow outside forces such as your past record at home to become a part of it.
“You narrow your focus to the game in front of you and block out all that other stuff. That’s going to be my message to our group.”
2. Not quite sure how the Rangers got caught in a late-game rotation so that the Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi top pair was replaced by the Marc Staal-Nick Holden tandem with 1:15 to go while the Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith unit’s last shift ended with 2:36 on the clock.
You can make a case for going with Staal during the final frantic minute, but not so much for Holden — who suffered through his second straight extremely difficult game and was on his knees in the crease without a stick when Tomas Plekanec scored the tying deflection within arm’s length of the defenseman.
Upon further and very brief review, does not McDonagh simply have to be on?
3. Alain Vigneault loves Holden’s skating, mobility and style, but it is becoming more and more difficult for the coach to justify keeping No. 22 — who had a terrific first three months — in the lineup.
Though the first question is whether Vigneault, a very loyal man, would render Holden a healthy scratch for the first time all year, the corresponding one is whether the coach would replace him with veteran Kevin Klein or Steven Kampfer, whom Vigneault talked up unsolicited before the series began.
You can bet that Klein would take exception to Brendan Gallagher’s and Steve Ott’s crease-crashing tactics in a far less subtle or polite manner than Holden. And if Vigneault were to make either move, the Staal pair could become the third duo with the Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith tandem moving up to get the second match against Plekanec.
4. Maybe the Carey Price thing got to Chris Kreider, but other than blocking a Shea Weber shot with 7:59 to go in the third period Friday and quickly peeling away from the Montreal goaltender in an early first period race for the puck in Wednesday’s Game 1 … No. One. Saw. Chris.
5. And if the Rangers need much, much more from Kreider, the same is true of Mika Zibanejad, who made a negligible effort to stop Alexander Radulov from scoring Friday’s overtime winner from in front and was otherwise MIA in Montreal.
Zibanejad said last week he hadn’t been brought here to be “the next Brass,” referring to Derick Brassard, the center who earned the nickname “Big Game Brass” for his ability to hit postseason high notes under the Broadway spotlight and for whom No. 93 was exchanged in last summer’s trade with Ottawa.
After two games — just two games, to be sure, but it gets late early in the playoffs — there is no danger of anyone confusing Zibanejad as the next Brass.
6. If Vigneault thinks he has seen Gallagher and Ott playing against him and for Claude Julien before, he has, only the players’ names were Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic when Julien was coaching the Bruins and Vigneault was coaching the Canucks in 2011 Cup finals. Lots of stuff after the whistle. It is not a coincidence.
7. This is the Jimmy Vesey two-thirds of the league tried to sign when the winger became a free agent in August and this is the Jimmy Vesey the Rangers never will regret bringing to Broadway. Harvard, stoned by Price from right circle with 4:43 remaining in overtime, has engaged all over the ice and has appeared to enjoy it, even mocking Gallagher to his face on the way to the room after Friday’s second period.