Rangers Pushed to the Brink

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Five

After last night’s 2-1 overtime loss in game 5 the New York Rangers are now on the brink of elimination.  Much like last year’s first round series against the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers find themselves heading into a game 6 down three games to two.  This team has showed over the past month and a half that they can be a resilient bunch.  They will need to feed off of that mindset, and past experiences, to force a game 7.

As bad as the Rangers have looked on the road in this series, they have looked the exact opposite at home.  They seem to feed off the Garden Faithful, finding their confidence, and uncharacteristically find ways to put the puck in the net.  The Rangers need to come out, sustain a solid fore-check, but continue to do so throughout the entire game, not just the first period.

Last night the Rangers got off to an ideal start on the road with Brian Boyle scoring just 53 seconds into the game.  They continued to pressure the Caps throughout the majority of the opening frame.  From the start of the second period on it was nothing short of domination from Washington who out-shot the Rangers 19-9 in the final two frames.  As has been said many times, if it wasn’t for Henrik Lundqvist this game would have never reached overtime.

The difference maker in game 5 ultimately came down to the power play.  The Rangers, who have struggled on the man advantage for what seems like an eternity, managed to go 0/4 in last night’s game.  For a team that went 13-2-3 when scoring a power play goal this season, it was imperative that they were able to break through at least once.  In a game that they lost 2-1, their Achilles heal cost the Rangers yet another game.

There were certainly other factors that played into the game 5 loss.  Nash, Callahan, and Richards had a combined 3 shots on net.  It is very hard to win a game when your key players simply don’t contribute.  Nash needs to be the go-to player that the Rangers can rely on.  He was brought here in the off-season as the offensive solution for a team that searched for exactly that all last year.  He had a great regular season, but has been held goalless with just 1 assists thus far in the postseason.  If the Rangers are going to advance, he needs to contribute.

The only positive spin you can put on his postseason is that it’s not over.  He still has a chance to turn things around, help the Rangers force a game 7, and ultimately be the guy who can get them into the second round.  Nash may just be off his game, he might be hurt, he is getting double teamed, but he is also the forward the Rangers will rely on the most as they try to stave off elimination.

If the Rangers are going to advance they will need to win a game on the road in an arena that they have looked nothing short of terrible at during this postseason.  As bad as they have looked, there has only been one constant in their game.  That constant is Henrik Lundqvist.

Hockey is a funny game to try and understand.  For example, the Rangers were majorly outplayed last night, but were still just a sudden-death overtime goal from taking the lead in this series.  With a goalie like Henrik Lundqvist anything is possible in these next two games.  If the Rangers can force that all important game 7, absolutely anything can happen.

If it does come down to that game 7 in Washington, one has to think Hank will do everything it takes to steal at least one victory on the road in this series.  Stick with the motto; Stay together, Stay positive.  The task is not easy, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs never are.  If the Rangers can hold serve and find a way to win at home tomorrow afternoon, everything comes down to the most exciting moment in all of sports.  Just get to that seventh game, and anyone can win…. Rangers in 7!




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