If you were to tell me, at the start of this series, that the Rangers were going to take two of three from the Canadiens in Montreal, I’d be happy. If you told me that they were coming home to a Game Six up 3-2 in the series, I’d be happy. This is why I’m not panicking over the ugly loss on Tuesday night. It was one ugly loss. They happen. Luckily in the playoffs, players have short memories and they move on.
Yet the mood among the fanbase is one of panic. The Rangers had a chance to close out the series in Montreal and could not do so. Their defense and goaltending –two critical parts of their identity– failed them. The offense put up a lot of goals, but the rest of the play wasn’t there. They are still leading in the series, coming home to a rocking Garden with a chance to close out the series.
There is no such thing as game-to-game momentum. Each game starts fresh. Each team made adjustments. Each team has an altered game plan. Game Five has no bearing on Game Six, aside from the suspension of John Moore. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this is indeed a must-win game for the Rangers.
These playoffs we’ve seen a team come back from a 3-0 deficit and a team come back from a 3-1 deficit. Nothing is over until the Rangers win that fourth game. Game Six is the time that the Rangers need to end it. Going into Montreal for a Game Seven, to a Bell Centre that is a house of horrors for Henrik Lundqvist, after losing two straight to allow the Habs to tie the series would be lethal. Simply put: The Rangers cannot allow for that to happen.
Side note: It sure would be nice if the Rangers ended a series in less than seven games this decade too.
That killer instinct, the one that they’ve had so often in the Game Seven’s we’ve seen over the past three years, needs to return tonight. Alain Vigneault’s motto is “one game, one period, one shift at a time.” That motto appeared to disappear when the Rangers went up 2-0 and 3-1, as the Rangers got sloppier and sloppier as the series progressed.
The good news is that Hank always rebounds after getting yanked. The team as a whole always rebounds after a clunker. Game Six in Philly, Game Four against Pittsburgh, both followed up with dominating performances the next game. It’s a trend we’d like to see continue. After all, this series was a puck-off-the-face goal from being a sweep."The must win that is Game Six",