The New York Rangers need to find a way to get back into their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Whatever happens, the Rangers have a lot to be proud of after their 2013-14 season ends, but a loss in Game 5 would be a tough way to end it. A loss would mean a crushing end to a series that the Rangers led after one game.
To lose four straight after taking Game 1 on the road would be hard to swallow, especially with the way the Rangers have been losing. Each defeat seems to be more heartbreaking than the last, with the Rangers only producing 15 shots on goal in Game 4, which was a season-low.
The Rangers need to dig deep to make sure that doesn’t happen, and if they win Game 5, they’ll get the chance to redeem themselves on home ice in Game 6. The Rangers have lost both home games to the Pens this series.
Getting pushed to the brink of elimination can sometimes bring out the best in teams, just ask the Los Angeles Kings. The Rangers need to take it one game at a time, and not try to do too much. The main thing they have to eliminate are costly mistakes that end up defining the outcome of the game.
A bad turnover led to Pittsburgh scoring two and a half minutes into Game 4, completely quieting the crowd and giving the Penguins a great start. Scoring the first goal in the game has been something the Rangers have failed to get in their three losses, including two shutouts. The only lead the Rangers had in this series was a 2-0 advantage that they squandered in Game 1. New York won Game 1 in overtime, but they need to be able to get a lead and build off of it.
Everyone’s waiting for the stars to show up, but it just hasn’t happened. The New York crowd in Game 4 booed Rick Nash, and Martin St. Louis has been a ghost in this series after an impressive first round.
Carl Hagelin made a terrific individual play to score a goal in Game 4, and the Rangers got Chris Kreider back in the lineup from a broken hand injury. These two players need to use their speed to make a play and spark the offense. The Rangers have a fast-paced approach, and last game the team was flat. They need to be energized, especially to counter a crowd in Pittsburgh that smells the Eastern Conference Finals.
Matching the Pens’ intensity will be important for the Rangers — they have to play urgent, but avoid turnovers. New York turned it over 25 times in Game 5, an inexplicable amount.
The Rangers have to prove it to themselves that they’re not going down without a fight. New York’s season is on the line Friday night in Pittsburgh.