For the Rangers to win in 7, they must lose 3. Now with the series tied 2-2 heading back to MSG for Game 5, we are on track for this scenario. While there are quite a number of players on the Rangers doing their job to keep the team afloat in the playoffs, there are a few select players that just flat out need to get going. The concern with last night’s loss isn’t the loss, it’s the players that need to get going.

It’s not realistic to expect Barclay Goodrow, Alexis Lafrenière, and Vincent Trocheck to be leading the charge offensively. Artemi Panarin showed up to an extent with 2 assists, but Mika Zibanejad basically gave the game away in overtime and Chris Kreider was invisible. The stars haven’t been showing up.

The Panthers playing prison rules where they commit numerous penalties in a row because they know the officials aren’t going to call everything is also something that needs to be studied from these playoffs. Just show any one the final 25 seconds of the 3rd period where the officials missed a hold, a trip, and a roughing call.

We aren’t going to completely use the officials as an excuse for this loss though. As stated above, the loss was because the stars aren’t showing up, and Zibanejad himself had one of the worst games we’ve ever seen from him. He hasn’t been the same since Brent Burns broke his stick on Mika’s spine. He may be hurt, or he may just be in the worst timed slump of his career.

This was in full view when, instead of getting the puck deep in OT, he decided to try a cross ice pass at the blue line to Blake Wheeler. We all know what happened next. With two of the next 3 games in New York, where the Rangers have played exceptionally well all season long, I am hopeful that that a legacy game for Zibanejad is coming. If the Rangers have any chance at all of beating the Panthers, they need a Mika game.

The playoffs are all about emerging heroes and players entering stardom on the biggest stage. No Ranger has answered that call quite like Alexis Lafrenière, who once again scored to tie the game in the 3rd period. This kid has been an absolute monster in the playoffs since the Carolina series. Now up to 7 goals in the playoffs, Lafrenière is dominating with the puck on his stick, one of the few Rangers with such results.

The Rangers were arguably worse in Game 4 than they were in Game 3, and now need to get their collective acts together in Game 5. The defense need to move the puck better, and the top players need to play like their salaries dictate. For the series to go 7, the Rangers need to lose 3, but their losses haven’t exactly been inspiring lately.

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