Thu 23 Apr 2009
I know winning playoff games does not come easy, but these one-goal victories are taking its toll. Is it too much to ask for the Rangers to win a laugher?
While the schedule might say Friday night’s game is only Game 5, you can expect both teams to treat it as Game 7 – and it won’t be the first time the two teams have done that in this series.
Paul Mara realizes the Rangers still have more work to do before they accomplish their goal.
“We’re in a great position here but Washington has played extremely well in all four games and we can’t let our foot off the gas pedal,” he told Andrew Gross of The (Bergen) Record.
Down two games and entering into the unfriendly confines of Madison Square Garden, the Capitals knew they had to play with more urgency and treat the game as a seventh and deciding game. They did and the won Game 3.
With the possibility of losing two games at home and returning to the Verizon Center back on their heels, the Rangers opened up Game 4 playing with a purpose to their game as they took the body early and established their home ice advantage. As a result, the Rangers took Game 4.
As the Rangers look to finish off the series and get some rest before doing battle with the Boston Bruins, they have a couple of things they need to address prior to Friday night.
First and foremost, they must try to stay out of the penalty box. The number of undisciplined penalties is reaching an alarming rate. It is no coincidence that the Rangers have won the three games where they have matched the Capitals power play. Given the ineffectiveness of the Blueshirts with the man advantage, the easiest way to maintain that ratio is to stay out of the penalty box.
If they are able to stay away from the penalty box parade, they have a much better chance of completing their next task. The Rangers must play from in front in Game 5. As seen in Game 3, they do not have the fire power to play from behind. Another quick start forces the Caps to play catch up and it helps take the Verizon Center crowd out of the game. Part of getting and staying ahead of Washington relies on the Rangers matching the Capitals intensity level.
The Blueshirts cannot afford to have any more periods like they did in the second period on Wednesday night. As good as Henrik Lundqvist is, no goaltender and no team is going to able to continually survive a period where they are outshot 19-5 (and 30-10 during the second and third periods).
The Rangers have to be careful of getting caught backing into their zone too much. They were guilty of that in the third period and it helped set up Alexander Ovechkin’s first goal of the series. When you think about it, Ovechkin scoring might have been the best thing that could have happened for the Rangers. You knew he was eventually going to put a bulge in the old onion bag so it was best it finally happened and the Rangers won.
John Tortorella has to stress the need for the Rangers to produce an effective forecheck – which was a key to their fast start in Game 4. The Rangers came out hitting and it helped keep the territorial battle in their favor. When they stopped forechecking and playing a physical game, they got pinned into their own end.
The Rangers to seem to get into troubles with the penalties as a result of committing turnovers at the Washington blue line. The Rangers have to make a concerted effort to get the puck deep – which serves a dual purpose. It enables them to set up their forecheck and eliminates the turnovers that lead to penalties or worse, odd-man rushes against.
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