As disheartening as Wednesday’s Game Four double overtime
loss was, the Rangers must put it behind them and try to close the gap to 3-2
tomorrow afternoon in Washington.
Outwardly, the team has remained upbeat, but it’s tough to
say what the real mood in the locker room is like. The Blueshirts know that they could easily be
tied 2-2 in this series, or even up 3-1, but that’s obviously not the
case. Nevertheless, the team has shown
that it is more than capable of playing with Washington, and if things start breaking the
Rangers’ way, the series might not be over just yet.
The inept power play is the most obvious aspect of New York’s game that
must change. With just one goal in the
series, the Rangers’ man advantage has been actually quite a disadvantage. It’s no secret that the Capitals are the far
more talented team, so the Rangers must generate goals from their special team
opportunities. So far, that hasn’t
happened and not coincidentally, the Rangers have lost by one goal twice and
two goals once. Facing an elimination
game, the Rangers’ margin for error is even slimmer, so the Blueshirts had
better figure out a way to capitalize on their power play opportunities.
We all know how this series has gone, and it’s very
understandable to be frustrated. But if
the Blueshirts can play as well as they did in the previous two, and maybe
three games, they could well end up with a W tomorrow. The key will be for the team to come out
loose and not worry about the past. If New York plays its game and doesn’t worry about the
series score, the Rangers have proven that they have what it takes to keep up
with Washington. But if the crushing Game Four loss is still
lodged in their heads, the season could be over tomorrow evening.
- The Vezina Trophy finalists were revealed this
afternoon. Roberto Luongo, Tim Thomas,
and Pekka Rinne were selected, with Henrik Lundqvist and Cary Price the
snubs. Lundqvist probably wouldn’t have
won the award, but he could make a pretty good case for being a better choice
than any of the three finalists. Thomas
made 12 fewer starts than Lundqvist and had Zdeno Chara in front of him. Luongo
played for the best team in the league in the standings and defensively, and
the Canucks didn’t miss a beat when Cory Schneider was between the pipes. Rinne was asked to carry his offensively
inept team in much the same way as Lundqvist, but Rinne has Shea Weber and Ryan
Suter in front of him. Lundqvist has two
rookies as his third and fourth defensemen, a pitiful offense, and he had to
carry the team by himself down the stretch after Martin Biron got hurt. Hank’s stats aren’t quite on par with the
finalists, but all that extra stuff should factor in as well.