Well, the Rangers have put themselves in a 3-1 hole in the series. That’s the truth. Credit the Capitals for staying strong most of this series and capitalizing on their opportunities, but the Rangers have really done more damage to themselves than the Capitals have inflicted on them. Blowing a three goal lead. One power play goal the whole series. Inexcusable turnovers in our own zone. The Gaborik/Lundqvist miscommunication. But as much as the close defeats are agonizing, they’re also what’s great about the playoffs, and what’s great for this Rangers team. Only once in this series have the Capitals been up by as much as two goals. As disappointing as the close losses have been, those same losses provide some hope for this team. This team has stuck with the Capitals the whole series, and we ARE capable of pulling off three straight wins. This is a team that has overcome adversity the whole season. This is a team that has refused to die, no matter how wounded. For the first time in a long time, Rangers fans have a reason to believe we can come back in a series aside from blind faith in our team. This is a team that truly has it in them. John Tortorella guaranteed this team will “be ready” for Game Five. Not quite a Messier-esque guarantee, but you know that if the Rangers end their season today, it won’t be without a fight. This team has refused to give up on themselves the entire season, so why should we give up on them, regardless of the reality of a 3-1 series deficit?
Brandon Dubinsky- Dubistache has taken it upon himself to be the team’s leader. Callahan is out obviously, and there’s only so many intangibles Chris Drury can bring in six minutes of ice time. Dubinsky was pretty awful in the two games in Washington so far but was equally strong at MSG, with two goals and added physicality. Which Dubinsky will show up tonight? The one who tries to do way too much? Or the one that makes simple play and lets his abilities do the rest of the work?
Marian Gaborik- There’s an open debate on how much Gaborik is truly at blame for Jason Chimera’s double OT tap-in, but there’s no doubt that he had to have felt sick to his stomach about what happened. How will Gaborik respond? He finally broke the goal drought, so will he start to have more confidence in his shot? That one screwup aside, Gaborik has done everything right in this series except finish. He’s been great defensively, he’s skating hard, and has been a lot stronger on the puck. Hopefully he’s mentally strong enough to forget about Game Four.
Alexander Ovechkin- He has two goals, but that doesn’t really fairly portray how the Rangers have defended him. One goal was a garbage, possibly unworthy goal in Game One, and the second one was a tap-in off of a perfect Arnott pass. The Rangers have really prevented Ovechkin from scoring any Ovechkin-type of goals, and Dan Girardi has been a big part of that. Keep him on the outside and get in front of as many shots as possible. As long as his open shots are from the perimeter I like Henrik’s chances of stopping it, even with Ovechkin shooting.
What else can I say? We’ve played the Capitals four times already in the past two weeks. We know what they’re about and what the Rangers have to do to win. We need the big guys, like Dubinsky and Gaborik, to step up. We need to make sure their big guys don’t get any prime scoring opportunities. And we need to NOT beat ourselves. Don’t throw away the power play chances like we’ve done this whole series. Don’t make stupid turnovers in our own zone. The truth is the Rangers could play a great game today and still watch their season end. The Capitals are a very good team. But if we stick with what we do best then without a doubt we’ll be in the game to the bitter end.
Head over to Capitals Outsider both before and after the game for their perspective. Ben is being fair to the Rangers and acknowledging that this series could just as easily be in favor of the Rangers right now.