Thoughts heading into a pivotal Game FiveApril 20, 2017, by
The Rangers played their best game of the 2017 calendar year on Tuesday night, evening the series in the process. But now the series turns back to Montreal for a critical Game Five for both clubs. The Rangers are going to try to play the same way they did in Game Four. The Canadiens are probably going to adjust to prevent just that. Naturally, I have some thoughts.
1. Game Five is going to come down to coaching. Claude Julien is going to adjust. He’s going to ensure the Rangers don’t have as much time in the offensive zone. My guess is he’s going to have his defensemen attend to stand up at the blue line, stopping the zone entry and forcing a soft dump to Carey Price to handle. Alain Vigneault’s ability to adjust to Julien’s adjustments will have a huge impact. The most important thing for the Rangers is to continue to gain the zone with speed through the neutral zone.
2. The forward production has been a problem. Rick Nash and Michael Grabner have two goals apiece. Jesper Fast, Mats Zuccarello, and Tanner Glass each have one. Four guys have one assist. That’s it for forward scoring. That simply isn’t going to cut it. On the bright side, the Rangers are even with Montreal despite guys like Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Chris Kreider not contributing. That’s a major positive. But on the negative, they aren’t scoring, and they haven’t really done much right in terms of process. I’m ok with them not scoring if they contribute in other manners and the Rangers win.
3. This has been a pretty dirty series. But don’t let that fool you. It’s been dirty with and without Glass in the lineup. There has been no needle moved in either direction. With the dearth of scoring, the Rangers need all the offense they can get. That means Pavel Buchnevich needs to stay in the lineup. He’s a legitimate and talented threat to score every time he’s on the ice.
4. It’s about time that Vigneault recognizes he cannot play Nick Holden or Kevin Klein anymore. Klein just doesn’t cut it anymore, and Holden has been awful. There is really nothing to lose by putting Adam Clendening in the lineup. He can’t be worse than Holden in his own zone, and at least Clendening can pass and skate with the puck. The blown plays in the defensive zone are, at worst, even between Clendo and Holden/Klein. Is there anything wrong with putting in a guy who is a net-positive offensively at this point? They need scoring.
5. What more can we say about Henrik Lundqvist? He’s been the only reason why this series is tied. We are not worthy."Thoughts heading into a pivotal Game Five",