Rather than getting ready to close out the series, the New York Rangers are again looking to regain the lead in a tie situation. The Philadelphia Flyers game back from an early deficit to beat the Rangers in game four. Game five between these teams is today at noon.
Chris Kreider and Steve Downie have yet to appear in this series and remain out. Nicklas Grossmann went down awkward in game four and as a result, he too will be out for the Flyers. As a replacement for Grossmann, the Flyers added Hal Gill back into the line-up. In six regular season games, this year, he hasn’t registered any points. He has not appeared in any of the four post season games against the Rangers this year either. The increased physicality of the series plays right into the Flyers’ hands. That is their style and the Rangers cannot give in if they plan to move forward.
The Rangers have to get their power play under control. They have wasted far too many opportunities in the last three games which could have led them to victory. Today has to be about special teams, and for the love of hockey Brad Richards either needs to be consistent on the power play or be off the unit entirely. He has become far too streaky to be a reliable “point man”.
Any point streaks the Rangers had are now blown. Derek Stepan, Martin St. Louis, and Rick Nash are the Rangers’ top producing line thus far in the post season. Rick Nash has been invisible and St. Louis has carried the bulk of the workload with his five points in four postseason games. Only three Rangers are skating at a negative rating; Dan Girardi is -1, St. Louis is -1, and Ryan McDonagh is -2. By comparison, the Flyers have seven players who are not in the negative; two of those are neutral with 0.
Today is a must win for the Rangers. Madison Square Garden should be rocking. There could be some line-up changes coming but coach Alain Vigneault is keeping all of that info close to his chest and isn’t showing his cards to anyone. The Rangers are eerily close to the “chip and a chair” adage of poker, let’s stay away from that today by getting a convincing win and playing 60 full minutes of hockey.