The New York Rangers have done more damage to the Tampa Bay Lightning than any other team since the Columbus Blue Jackets swept them in 2019. The Rangers defeated the Lightning back-to-back games, the first time that has happened in 10 playoff series. In scoring nine goals on 66 shots, the Rangers handed Andrei Vasilevskiy his worst back-to-back playoff performances in that same span. The Lightning bounced back in Game Three, but the Rangers know it took everything Tampa Bay had in their tank to do so.
The New York Rangers control their destiny
Headed into Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Rangers are still in control. They hold a two to one series lead over the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. The Rangers hold home ice advantage and the opportunity to take a commanding series lead back to New York for Game Five on Thursday. All of the statistics should provide a shot of confidence in the arm of the New York Rangers, but is it enough?
The New York Rangers have learned how to win in the playoffs by winning. Though, if there is one thing that the team has lacked, it is a killer instinct. Or perhaps, to be fair, it is the one thing this playoff season they have yet to demonstrate. Not necessarily because they have failed at it, but more so that they have few opportunities to finish off an opponent.
Sure, game to game arguments can be made that the Rangers could have extended leads or broken open a particular game. It can be debated that they sat back or turtled into a defensive shell rather than keeping the pressure on. But, they were the comeback kids in the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The series against the Carolina Hurricanes was a defensive and home ice series before the Rangers ‘stole one’ on the road in game 7.
Listen to Reavo
This Eastern Conference Finals series though is a different animal all together with the Rangers on the other side of the comeback fence. For the first time in these playoffs the Rangers held a series lead. Up two games in the series, they had a two goal lead at the midway point of Game Three. They were finally in a position to truly put an opponent in the rearview mirror. But it was not to be.
The Lightning deserve a lot of credit for their comeback, as did the Rangers during their previous two series’. However, had the Rangers exerted some killer instinct this series would be all but over. While it is true that every win inches a team closer to the Stanley Cup, every set back is also a learning experience. The New York Rangers have been learning throughout these playoffs. They learned how to comeback, how to weather a storm surge, to steal a game and how to put the champs on their heels.
Eye of the tiger
Now they need to learn how crush their opponents and break their spirit. To end the reign of one champion and to become one themselves, the New York Rangers need that killer instinct.