By Dominic Lancella on May 29, 2014
The New York Rangers are entering Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens under enormous pressure. Trailing the series 3-2 it’s Montreal that faces elimination, but they also hold a lot of confidence after beating the Rangers in Game 5. The Rangers must find a way to end this series at home in Game 6. Here are five Rangers who have to step up in order to make that happen.
After only having 33 points in 72 regular season games, Hagelin has an impressive 14 points in 19 playoff games. He’s the fastest skater on the Rangers and will be a key player in creating offense. Hagelin is also a valuable penalty killer, and he needs to play well at both ends of the ice in Game 6.
Diaz only has two playoff games under his belt this postseason, but he will enter the lineup in Game 6 for the suspended John Moore. Diaz must get comfortable quickly in a gigantic game. He’ll have the freshest legs of anyone on the ice, which could make a difference. He also plays the point on New York’s second power-play unit and could make a difference if he steps up in Game 6.
Pouliot played great in the second round, but it hasn’t carried over much into the East Finals. He has zero points in his last six games and has taken some very foolish penalties during that time. He must stay away from the box and do his part on the third line with Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. Pouliot has to be more aggressive and get back onto the score sheet.
Nash has the playoff monkey off his back with three goals in five games during this series with Montreal, but he can still be better. He’ll need to be for New York to advance in Game 6. He’s had at least two shots on goal in every game this series, and he has to keep shooting. Everyone’s still waiting for Nash to score a huge goal at a clutch time. Game 6 presents a wonderful opportunity for that.
Kreider makes No. 1 on the list for a reason. The Rangers didn’t show their best effort as a team in Game 5, but Kreider played outstanding individually. He had a hand in all four Ranger goals, tallying one goal and three assists. His speed has caused problems for Montreal’s defense all series long, and he’ll need to be at his best again to spark New York’s offense. Look for Kreider to continue to attack the net on the rush.
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