“It’s not the work that’s hard, it’s the discipline.”

That Anonymous quote pretty much sums up the state of the New York Rangers as they look ahead to returning to Madison Square Garden for Game 6. If they win, then the Capitals series becomes a building block and a stepping stone for the next round.

If they lose, it is on to Game 7 in Washington and a chance to be part of hockey history – and not in a good way.

The Rangers inability to play disciplined hockey has pretty much be a problem all season long. That is why it is almost amazing that the Rangers have the NHL’s top penalty killing unit.

Killing penalties is all about discipline and sacrifice. You have to be willing to sacrifice your body up to block shots while still be disciplined enough to play within the penalty kill system.

The problem is the Rangers have not been able to carry their penalty killing discipline into their power play unit. They get no traffic in front of the net, there is no player and puck movement in the offensive zone on the man advantage and they do not get enough shots on goal. Then again, the same can be said for the Blueshirts when they are at even strength.

“ If we don’t discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us” – William Feather.

If we apply Feather’s quote to the Rangers-Capitals series, if the Rangers do not stop taking undisciplined penalties, Washington will eventually do it for them by making the Blueshirts pay with power play goals against.

Coach John Tortorella tried to instill some accountability for his player’s action by benching Sean Avery in Game 5. Give Avery credit because he seems to have been saying all the right things.

“I totally stand behind what Torts did,” Avery explained to Larry Brooks of the NY Post. “The team comes first.”

“I made a mistake. I took two bad penalties. I put the game in jeopardy. It wasn’t something I did intentionally, but that’s no excuse. I did it.”

Rangers fans might be wondering why the same treatment wasn’t doled out to Markus Naslund who took three penalties in Game 1 – and they would be correct in questioning the coach’s motivation. Both players took a pair of third period penalties, with the only difference being Naslund’s second period power play goal.

Of course, there are mitigating circumstances that favor Tortorella’s actions towards Avery. The feisty winger has racked up seven minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct in just four game and the Blueshirts (and Avery) were fortunate his two third penalties were not double-minors or worse.

While the message behind Avery’s benching seemed get through, it did not resonate enough for the team to change its actions – despite Scott Gomez’s comments.

“At this point we all know what Torts is going to do,” Gomez said to Jeff Z. Klein of the NY Times. “It just shows you it doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re not on the same page he’s going to sit you. We’re all in this together.”

The one question to ask is how are the Rangers supposed to toe the discipline line when their own coach can’t? It doesn’t matter what the fans did to Tortorella or the Rangers bench, the coach’s actions were completely uncalled for. If the Rangers bench were “under siege”, then they should have called over Verizon Center security. If the situation were that bad, he should have taken his team off the bench until order was restored.

“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on [ice] skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.” — Author H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

By about 5pm on Sunday we will know which way that octopus was going. For the Rangers sake, it better not be towards Washington, D.C.

Add to Yahoo Add to Google Furl this Add to Spurl Save to Del.icio.us Digg IT! Live Bookmarks! Blogmarks