If the New York Rangers plan on beating the Ottawa Senators in game 6 to force game 7 here is what they need to do.
Not many people had this second round matchup between the New York Rangers and the Ottawa Senators going six games. Even fewer people had the Ottawa Senators leading the series after five games, or winning the series at all.
As you read this on Monday, however, the Ottawa Senators currently lead the Rangers 3-2 in the seven-game set.
The story thus far has been about the home team. The Ottawa Senators are 3-0 at the Canadian Tire Center while the New York Rangers are 2-0 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers, with their backs against the wall, will look to make it 3-0 at MSG on Tuesday Night. If the Rangers plan on forcing a game seven in Ottawa here are some things they need to do.
1. Henrik Lundqvist must be Henrik Lundqvist
Henrik Lundqvist has been a fierce competitor in the playoffs thus far. His performance has impressed even the heaviest Hank haters. Even with a tough regular season, Henrik has shown he can still compete along the best goalies in the world.
That being said, Henrik has allowed some weak goals in the series, especially in Ottawa. Something about the Ottawa air seems to be Henrik Lundqvist’s’ kryptonite.
In Ottawa, Hank has given up two goals, six goals and five goals. Those are not the 2017 playoffs Hank numbers we are accustomed to. At MSG, Henrik has been superb giving up only one goal in each game, and a late meaningless goal at that.
History is the one saving grace for the New York Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist going into game six against Ottawa. Hank’s diehard determination and competitiveness has driven the stat in the tweet below. That statistic is purely amazing stuff. A big night for Henrik Lundqvist and a Rangers win is likely on Tuesday.
Henrik Lundqvist's record when facing PO elimination at Madison Square Garden the past decade:
10-1, .965 sv%, 1.05 GAA, 2 shutouts#NYR
— HockeyStatMiner (@HockeyStatMiner) May 7, 2017
2. Top 6 Forwards Need to Step Up
The best performers for the New York Rangers have been the bottom pair forwards. Their speed and work ethic have caused big problems for the Ottawa Senators. Top line guys like Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller have been invisible during this series. Hayes and Miller have two assists in five games while Rick Nash has a goal and an assist in those five games. Derek Stepan has four points in five games but has often found himself being lazy on the back check while sporting a minus-three rating.
“Nobody can come out of this game thinking they played well enough to win” —Mats Zuccarello
Also, Derek Stepan should never tell Hank to calm down. If Step had to deal with half the crap we make Hank go through he’d cry. The top lines of the Blueshirts have been a non-factor in the series thus far. In order to force a game seven the top forwards need to find some energy and make a difference.
3. Alain Vigneault Needs to Be Smarter
Alright, everyone has had time to vent on Twitter and all that jazz. Let’s bring up the issue again to ignite twitter again. Seriously, after the first two losses in Ottawa, it seemed that AV had learned his lesson about utilizing his top players.
Fast forward to Game 5 and the old AV is back.
Is that not abundantly clear? How about this … Staal and Holden should not see the ice for the final five minutes. Makes more sense to me, but who am I? I’m someone who has never won a Stanley Cup, just like AV. AV on the pairs late in the game …
“We’ve got Staal who’s got a lot of exp, Smitty, Dan and Mac. Those are the guys we’re leaning on a little bit more.”
Another AV-ism that has been grossly overlooked is his utilization of Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg leads the series with three goals and has been one of our most dynamic players yet he is averaging the least amount of ice time per game at 8:57. Where is the sense in that AV? Let the guy play. Him and Fast. Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post discusses how AV will continue to allow ancient Rangers ruin this playoff run.
4. Keep Playing Our Game but for 60 minutes
If you look at the series statistic or have watched any part of any game it’s pretty clear to see that the New York Rangers have dominated the series. Ottawa has been outplayed in every aspect of the game besides faceoffs. Nevertheless, the Sens have capitalized on our mistakes and have been very opportunistic in their scoring. Anyone doubting who the better team has been asking Dan Rosen.
NYR have led for 179:52; OTT for 13:10. NYR 1st goal in every game, 18-15 edge in goals,4-1 in special teams goals. NYR trailing series 3-2.
— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) May 7, 2017
If the Rangers were able to play a full 60 minutes in game two and 5 this series would be over. Not making excuses but if the Rangers can execute for an entire game they can still win this series.
5. Puck Luck
In order to win in the playoffs, you need some puck luck. The Rangers have absolutely no puck luck while the Senators have it all. Take Game 5 for example. The game-tying goal hit four players to pinball into the net past Hank. In overtime, the New York Rangers hit a post and had a goal rightfully disallowed from a Michael Grabner high stick.
The bottom line is, you need puck luck to win. Hopefully, the Hockey gods will be in our favor for games six and hopefully seven.
Better Things to Come in Game 6
The New York Rangers got what they deserved in Game 5, according to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, but what will they deserve in Game 6?
One game at a time, one shift at a time the Rangers need to work hard and battle to win Game 6 in order to force the coin toss odds of a game seven. Anything can happen in a game seven, New York Rangers fans know game sevens very well. Given the Blueshirts experience and Henrik Lundqvist’s Game 7 number, I’d have my money on the Rangers, if they can get there.
The New York Rangers are in need of a tough locker room talk from John Tortorella. Listen to what he says in this video. You think this team needs a little talk just like this? I do.
NBCSN will televise Game 6 at MSG on Tuesday, May 9, 7:30 PM ET