When the New York Rangers take the ice tonight
at the Well’s Fargo Center for Game 6 of the Metropolitan Division Semifinals,
they will be reminded of all of the failed closeout attempts of the past Blueshirts
The ones that failed to closeout a vulnerable
Washington Capitals team despite leading 3-1 in the series. Or the teams that
fell just short of a Stanley Cup trip against a rival New Jersey Devils team.
However, unlike years past, the Rangers have one
major factor in their favor that their opponent in the Philadelphia Flyers
lack: the new “black aces.”
Yes, the Rangers have a world-class goalie in
Henrik Lundqvist going against a recently-returned Steve Mason who looked
visibly shook in the third period of Game 5. But goaltending has not played as
key a role in this series as you might have expected.
The emergence of the third and fourth line
players for the Rangers has been key to their success, especially with players
like Rick Nash not getting it done on the scoreboard. This was never more
evident than Game 5 when Dominic Moore had his best performance of the season.
By the numbers, Moore had a goal and an assist in 12:36 of ice time. More
importantly, perhaps, Moore was 86% in the faceoff circle, an area where the
Rangers have struggled with consistency.
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