New York Rangers: It’s Never Easy
They just can’t ever make it easy on us can they? It’s always has to be a struggle. @JoeBianchino
After a dramatic, three overtime win in game three, the Rangers had the opportunity to put the dagger into the Capitals’ heart on Saturday and give themselves a chance to close out the series at Madison Square Garden in game 5. But that just seems too easy, doesn’t it? Too simple. It’s lacking a certain dramatic touch – that tortuously cardiac quality. A no-sweat, five game series just isn’t fitting of a team who, historically, has worn the nerves of their fans down to their absolute, bitter end – a team who took 54 years to win a Stanley Cup, and only did that in a seventh game in which they watched a two goal lead get cut to one with fifteen minutes to go in the third.
So maybe it shouldn't have been a surprise when the Rangers fell on Saturday. Regardless, they now sit, much the way they did in their opening round series against the Senators, in the midst of a long battle. The Blueshirts have positioned themselves in such a dogfight thanks to a predictably poor offensive output and a rather shocking string of unforgivable turnovers. The turnovers you can chalk up as nothing more than the ill-timed flukes of an otherwise disciplined team. The scoring, however, has become a nasty, hair-pulling trend. Their hardworking, behind-the-net style of play has yet to translate into goals, with the middle of the ice consistently clogged by the Capitals. The Rangers have also been hesitant to shoot the puck. They tallied only 18 shots on Saturday. Quick calculation reveals that’s six per period. SIX! In other words, a good two minutes for most teams in the NHL.
This stagnant, make the Dean Smith Four-Corner offense look like the UNLV Runnin’ Rebel teams of old, attack the Rangers have been employing is simply not working. They need to start shooting pucks. Opportunities at open shooting lanes can no longer be passed over for the pretty pass and the perfect shot. The pretty pass doesn’t work. Because the Rangers don’t play pretty. They don’t win pretty. They don’t do anything pretty…Except for Henrik Lundqvist – that man does everything pretty.
Whatever the reason, however, New York is now in a best of three and heading home for game five. Entangled in the same situation during their bitter matchup with the Senators, the Rangers lost game five, but rallied with two straight wins – including a road triumph in game six – to escape with their playoff life. The lessons learned during that win, and the strength displayed in such a comeback – a will and desire for which the Rangers have received endless praise all season – will certainly be on display now if the Rangers are to advance. Perhaps that will, more than anything, can help carry them on. It’s been the driving force to their success thus far and has consistently kept his team winning big games.
Either way the Blueshirts can make their lives easier this time around with a win at home in game five on Monday. But this is the Rangers. So who knows what will happen? One thing that is for sure? They won’t do anything without a fight. It's that heart.
And it’s why I’ve always been – and keep – believing. Go Rangers.