New York Rangers vs. Washington Capitals, 7:30 PM at Madison Square Garden
Game Five, Eastern Conference Semifinals (Series Tied 2-2)
Where To Watch: NBC Sports Network
Where To Listen: ESPN New York 98.7 FM, and newyorkrangers.com
Live In-Game Chat: 7:15 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
When the Rangers take to the ice for a critical Game 5 on Monday night, will their second round playoff series continue to follow the same script as the Blueshirts first round set with the Ottawa Senators? Thus far both series have followed the same path, Rangers victories in the first and third games, coupled with Blueshirt defeats in Games 2 and 4. Certainly the Rangers want to deviate from the script on Monday because in the first round they dug themselves a 3-2 hole by losing Game 5 on home ice to the Senators, and they do not want to face a pair of must-wins again in order to advance again in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. In order to gain a victory on Monday the Rangers will need to generate more offensive chances and, plain and simple, score more goals. The Rangers have scored two goals or fewer in 8 of their first 11 playoff games this spring, and have topped three goals only once---in their very first game of the Ottawa series. They will also need a better to start on Monday than the one they had Saturday in Game 4 when they were on their heels and surrendered the first seven shots of the game, and were outshot 14-3 in the first period. And staying out of the penalty box will be an important key, as well, for the Blueshirts. In Washington's two wins so far in the series, each time their winning goal came late in the third period on the power play. The Capitals will want to continue to frustrate the Rangers, trying to beat them at their own game---limiting their chances, blocking plenty of shots, and scoring opportunistic goals. Once again the Rangers will play without injured forward Brandon Dubinsky, who has missed the entire series with an unidisclosed injury, and who has yet to resume skating.
Rangers-Carl Hagelin: As head coach John Tortorella pointed out Sunday, Hagelin has been extremely effective on the forecheck and by using his speed in both the neutral and offensive zones. However, as the coach also pointed out, Hagelin needs to begin contributing on the scoresheet, too. Playing top-six forward minutes, Hagelin has produced just one assist in the eight playoff games he has appeared in---and that was in the very first game against Ottawa.
Capitals-Mike Green: The Rangers must certainly hope that the sleeping giant has not been woken. Green---one of the league's most feared offensive defensemen as recently as two years ago before injuries derailed him---showed his old form by blasting the game-winning power-play goal past Henrik Lundqvist in Game 4---his first point of the series. The Rangers have done a good job hitting Green and limiting his influence on the offensive side of the puck much of the series. That needs to happen again in Game 5.
"We have to have the right mindset (heading into Game 5), we have no choice. We didn't go into the series thinking it would definitely be 3-1, for sure, and we can't do anything about being 2-2 now. We'll just play the next game at home and look to improve in all facets of our game."-Brad Richards
The Rangers have registered 111 shots on goal so far in this series, but the Capitals have blocked 105 attempted shots by the Rangers. The Caps blocked 26 shots in their Game 4 win, while the Rangers managed just 20 shots on goal.
The Capitals are now 6-1 in the post-season when scoring the game's first goal. However, they are 0-4 when the opposition scores first. The Rangers are 5-2 when scoring the first goal in the post-season.
Will the Rangers deviate from the script and win Game 5 Monday at The Garden? Share your prediction below.
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