Despite leading 3-2 in the series, the New York Rangers are on their heels heading back to Raleigh for a crucial Game 6. The Rangers got a whopping 1 high danger chance in Game 5, something that did not go unnoticed even before Vally posted his tracking results. For a Rangers Game 6 win, that in particular needs to change, but it goes far beyond that.

1. First and foremost, a Rangers Game 6 win will be dependent on the Rangers waking up and realizing one shorthanded goal is nowhere near enough to hold the Carolina Hurricanes at bay. Their one high danger chance came on that Jacob Trouba goal, and that was it. Perhaps Adam Fox is starting to feel his knee injury. Maybe everyone caught the same flu that Filip Chytil had. Who knows?

What we do know is the Blueshirts were horrible in Game 5 and seemed demoralized from the start. That was not the same team that rebounded after almost every single loss in the regular season, rarely losing a second game in a row. Monday night’s Rangers looked more like Gerard Gallant’s Rangers, not Peter Laviolette’s Rangers.

For a Rangers Game 6 win to materialize, both the players and the coaching staff need to reawaken that never give up and never say die attitude we saw all season.

2. The hope is that Filip Chytil can return for Game 6 after missing the last two games with an illness. It seems like he will be good to go, as he was at practice yesterday skating in a regular rotation. But if he can’t go, the Rangers need another puck mover in the lineup, and that would be Zac Jones.

Matt Rempe is being targeted by the refs and would most likely be targeted by Rod Brind’Amour in Raleigh if he plays. That’s a matchup nightmare that, if out there with Jacob Trouba as well, will end poorly for the Rangers. He is unfortunately no longer a viable option in this series. Jonny Brodzinski has been very ‘meh’ and doesn’t add much either.

That leaves, you guessed it, Zac Jones. Given how poorly the Rangers have been able to transition out of their own zone, Jones adds a needed element to the team, even if it would result in an 11F/7D lineup. It’s not ideal, but the Rangers simply can’t get the puck out of their own end consistently. Believe it or not, Jack Roslovic is one of the only players that can get the puck out somewhat regularly using his speed.

I doubt this is a realistic option, mind you. Chytil will be the top choice for obvious reasons. Otherwise the Rangers will run it back with Brodzinski.

3. There needs to be a mental reset as well. A Rangers Game 6 win will be determined by which team shows up. Remember, the Rangers barely lost Game 4 thanks to a late powerplay goal against. The Rangers got away from what worked in Game 5, surrendering far too many slot chances and simply not playing effective team defense.

The Hurricanes can throw as many low danger shots as they want on net and Igor Shesterkin will smother them all. It’s up to the five skaters to clear out rebounds and tie up sticks for deflections and cross-ice passes. Artemi Panarin’s inability to do this on the Evgeny Kuznetsov goal really stung. Hopefully Game 5 was a blip.

Every Stanley Cup winning team goes through some kind of adversity. Lest we forget, in 1994 Mike Richter got pulled and Brian Leetch got benched against the Devils. This could be the 2024 Rangers version of adversity.

A Rangers Game 6 win will certainly help keep people off the ledge. But it’s up to the players to erase that deer in headlights look, and for the coaching staff to reinforce getting back to basics. This is a very coachable team. It’s time to coach and execute.

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