The New York Rangers have had a negative trend the past two playoff series; they have lost the second game after taking a 1-0 series lead. Not only has it killed momentum, but it's also helped force both series to a seventh and final game.
So it's critical that the Rangers make an effort to continue to harness the momentum they've gained from back-to-back playoff victories (a Game 7 win over the Washington Capitals and Monday night's 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils) and use it to their advantage in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden.
Easier said than done.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Rangers used an immense third period -- coupled with fantastic goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, jaw-dropping defense from Ryan McDonagh and another brilliant performance from Chris Kreider -- to walk out of Madison Square Garden with a 3-0 victory and a 1-0 series lead.
But the Devils got their chances during the game, and had even one of them gone the other way in the first or second period it would have been a completely different result. Then again, apparently the Rangers don't win games the right way, because they're ruining the NHL -- or, Ken Campbell enjoys hearing himself speak even if he's talking about a subject (hockey) that he obviously knows nothing about. One or the other.
Anyway, that's not the point.
The point is that the Rangers have an opportunity (again) to take a commanding lead in a playoff series; something they haven't been able to do this postseason. Wednesday is as good of a time as any, it's just a matter of getting the fundamentals down.
The Rangers did a fantastic job of clogging the shooting lanes, yes, but they also did a masterful job of keeping the Devils to the outside. In the second and third periods the Devils had about four sequences in which they held the puck in the Rangers' zone for an extended period of time and seemed to be on a power play despite both teams playing 5-on-5. And while that's not an ideal situation for the Rangers at all, their defense kept the Devils to the outside and generally limited the scoring chances.
The defense has been a big part of the Rangers' success this postseason, but the offense came alive in the third period Monday, something John Tortorella wants to see happen again tonight.
In the end, it doesn't matter how they win just so long as try get the job done.