The New York Rangers will look to tie their series with the Washington Capitals tonight in Game 4 at the World’s Most Trashed Areana (lately). The verbal barbs fired and then recanted by Capitals head coach Bruce Bordreau have been cast aside by the Rangers and their head coach John Tortorella, who are more focused on winning hockey games and playing their game rather than elementary school whining. However, the people who won’t forget are the Rangers fans, unceremoniously provoked & challenged to blow the roof off the building. Knowing the Garden Faithful, they wouldn’t want it any other way.
Recalling Game 3, the Rangers offense finally came to life scoring 3 goals after only scoring 1 goal in the first 2 games of the series. We saw Brandon Dubinsky emerge has the player he needs to be in order for the Rangers to have a chance in the series by scoring the game-winning goal. Not to forget, we also saw the DubiStache debut. Rumors of Bryan McCabe joining the Mustache Brigade have surfaced within the last 24 hours and we’ll see what that monstrosity looks like this evening. Even the Rangers non-existent power play got in on the action in the last game so that has to mean things are looking up, right?
Let’s take a look at some key points of success for the Rangers in Game 4:
The Rangers are in the Capitals’ heads: For some illogical reason, the Capitals head coach has decided to rant and rant after losing Game 3 to the media after keeping relatively mum after Game 1 & 2. To me, that signals desperation. Why on earth you would be complaining while you’re still leading the series 2-1 is beyond me. And complaining about how loud the building you’re playing in isn’t will only make it tougher for you to play in. The Rangers may have the slight psychological advantage after a strategic miscue by Boudreau.
Containing the Capitals’ power play: Washington has been able to cash in a power play goal in each of the last 2 games. While not looking as dangerous as the can be, and you can credit the Rangers’ PK for that, the Capitals can single-handedly win a game with the talent they posses offensively. The Rangers have done a great job containing Alex Ovechkin & Alex Semin at even strength but it will be on the power play where it will matter more. Boudreau has routinely deployed 5 forwards on the man advantage to try and capitalize (no pun intended) quickly. Maintaining discipline will undoubtedly be needed.
Avery being Avery: He was more of a factor in Game 3 playing with Brian Boyle & Brandon Prust, forming a good energy/checking line. Avery seemed to get under the skin of the Capitals a bit; and that’s exactly what the Rangers need him to do in Game 4. That’s the Avery the Rangers need; playing with an edge.
Michael Neuvirth is not unbreakable: After looking like a brick wall in Game 1 & 2, the Capitals’ rookie net-minder looked a little more human in Game 3. Although, you can argue that all 3 goals scored by the Blueshirts had luck attached to them. However, the Rangers shooters seemed to target Neuvirth’s glove side more often as an area of weakness. They also played more in front of his net, continually crashing the crease. Disrupting the young Neuvirth’s concentration will go a long way.
Converting power play chances is a MUST: We know how important special teams can be in hockey. By constantly missing out on chances to score on the power play, you’re keeping your opponent in the game and, in some cases, giving them the momentum. In Game 3, the Rangers power play had better puck movement but they’re still too predictable. Washington knows the Rangers are trying to set up Bryan McCabe for a shot. The onus falls on the other Rangers’ players to shoot, to attack the net, if the opportunity presents itself.
Marian Gaborik is on the verge: Just by plain observation, it looks like Gaborik is ready to break out and score some goals. He’s skating and get some chances to shoot. Plus, he’s looked better with Brandon Dubinsky as his center when Tortorella put them and Vinny Prospal together during Game 3. It’s a line that has had success in the past and should stay together for Game 4 to attempt to make space for Gaborik to unleash his shot.
Make sure to check out Capitals Outsider before tonight’s game.
For more in-depth notes for tonight’s matchup check out the Rangers website here.
One other note, the New York Rangers Blog (which does an excellent job giving fans all the news going on the with team) asked its followers on Twitter yesterday to come up with a chant for the Garden to use for tonight’s game. Along with another reader, my chant of “Can You Hear Us?” was chosen by the blog as the best one.
I urge any Rangers’ fans going to the game tonight to use the chant make sure the Garden is ROCKIN‘ for Bruce Boudreau.
Topics: Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle, Bruce Boudreau, Bryan McCabe, John Tortorella, Marian Gaborik, Michael Neuvirth, New York Rangers, Power Play, Sean Avery, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Vinny Prospal, Washington Capitals