Rangers Vs. Capitals: Keep Up The Pressure

Bruce Bennett

The Rangers need to keep up the pressure and pace they've played with the past two games.

The New York Rangers have done a lot of things right the past two games. No, things haven't been perfect for the Rangers, but they've simply gotten the job done -- no matter how heart-stopping those twin 4-3 wins at Madison Square Garden were.

The Rangers scratched and clawed their way back into this series with the two wins in New York which tied this series at 2-2, but that doesn't mean the Rangers job is done. In fact, it's really just beginning. This series has now turned into a best of three, with two of those games taking place in Washington.

A win tonight gives the Rangers a chance to close things out on Broadway on Sunday. A loss puts them on the brink, but Washington would still need to win in New York to keep the Rangers from forcing a Game 7. Either way, things are a whole hell of a lot better than they were on Saturday.

The Rangers have found their offense. That's some really good news. After scoring just a single goal in the two losses in Washington, the Rangers erupted for eight goals in the past two games. Derick Brassard has been the biggest part of that burst, scoring a goal and adding four assists for five points in the two-game span. Carl Hagelin is second on the Rangers with two goals and two assists. And Mats Zuccarello, of course, has been big -- notching three assists in the four games.

One of the other biggest contributors to the offense has been Derek Stepan, who has two goals; both of which were game-winners. Stepan has also made some things happen with his passing, but none of his dishes have been finished.

What's more impressive about the Rangers' scoring burst is that Rick Nash has just a single assist -- albeit on Stepan's first game winner in Game 3 -- in the series. The Rangers desperately needed Nash to get going in the first two games when goals were significantly hard to come by. But now that guys like Brassard, Stepan, Hagelin, Zuccarello and even Taylor Pyatt and Brian Boyle are contributing, Nash's lack of offense hasn't been noticeable. At least it hasn't been the past two games.

The Rangers have gotten more comfortable since they were down 2-0. Winning a couple of games can do that, especially when it puts the pressure back on Washington to avoid a potential series-ending game in Madison Square Garden. But that won't be possible without a Rangers win in Washington first. If the Rangers can keep up the level of play they've had -- minus some of those defensive lapses -- in Games 3 and 4 they should be OK.

Easier said than done, sure, but the Rangers are starting to find themselves, too.

Good teams usually do when the season is on the line.

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