Sunday, May 10, 2015

N.Y. Rangers: Now if the Power Play Can Just Get Going - Game Six!


Capitals lead series 3-2
I - WAS 2; NYR 1
II - NYR 3; WAS 2
III - WAS 1; NYR 0
IV - WAS 2; NYR 1
V - NYR 2; WAS 1*

Washington Capitals
The Center of the Universe

NEW YORK RANGERS: It's Simple - Play With Abandon, Be Relentless to the Puck, Hit Hard and Often, and Get Traffic in Front of Holtby.

"Go out there and play like a bunch of crazed dogs..."   stuff Lawrence Taylor used to say.

Facing elimination and 50:00 minutes of scoreless hockey into Game V did nothing to inspire better play out of Kieth Yandle.

The age old question for defensemen is when to pinch, and when not to pinch.  The problem with Keith Yandle's decision midway through the 3rd was that he pinched too deeply into the zone.  He committed himself all the way to the top of the left circle, with absolutely no one covering the rear.   Coupled with his already glaring propensity for turning over the puck, the Rangers had a disaster on their hands.

It came in the form of one stretch pass out of Washington's defensive zone to the anonymous Curtis Glencross, and a breakaway the other way.  Henrik Lundqvist made the initial save, but Glencross cleaned up his own rebound to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead before a dejected Garden crowd.

That began the Times Square doomsday clock ticking 2:00 minutes closer to midnight.

At 11:35 of the 3rd, the Rangers missed a wide open net opportunity.

With the final bell tolling for Tex's Rangers off-Broadway show, the heroes finally emerged.   The Rangers finally got the two clutch goals they've been waiting all series for when Chris Krieder tied the game with just 1:41 left in regulation.

Henrik Lundqvist was the next to save the season, making a brilliant save with 0:27 left in regulation. That made the Captain's game winning goal in overtime possible.  At the 9:37 mark, Ryan McDonagh punched the Rangers ticket back to Washington.

Win, and they bring the series back to Madison Square Garden for a decisive Game Seven.  Lose, and they'll be cleaning out their lockers and wondering where to stick that President's Trophy.

The Rangers' season still breathes life today because Chris Kreider is finally taking ownership of his potential.  Ever since he mistakenly idled down in the final seconds of Game One, he has been the Rangers best player.  For both he and the Rangers, his opening goal in Game Two was a huge attitude adjuster after suffering a brutal loss in the closing moments of Game One.  Friday, he scored his third goal of the post-season, very literally, when the Rangers needed it most.

His was also the Rangers best forward line.  The trio of Stepan, Kreider, and Jesper Fast, have given the Rangers much to be thankful for - and not just in Game Five.

Entering Game Six, the Rangers should be aware that Braden Holtby can, and has been beaten glove-side high, and generally above the shoulders.  Krieder and Derick Brassard have demonstrated that several times already.  However, Martin St. Louis doesn't seem to have gotten the memo.  He's been shooting into Holtby's pads all series.  It's time to elevate the puck, son.

Theoretically, all the pressure is on the Rangers.  They're behind, they're on the road, and they're favored.  This technically gives Washington room to play with.  Therefore I fully expect them to ratchet up the physicality again, particularly at home.

The Rangers power play was 0 for 2 again.  Want to win in the playoffs, particularly when scoring is at a premium?  Score on the power play!  The Rangers are 1 for 11 in the series, and 4 for 31 (13%) in the post-season.

This Alain Vigneault's unit to fix.

Make it happen in Game Six.

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