So the Rangers have essentially taken a 3-1 lead in their Quarterfinal matchup against the Capitals by making less mistakes than the Southeast Division Champs. So what can I really nitpick about, right? Well, if you would like to see a (hopefully) win in Game 5 by more than (now I'm pushing it) one goal, the Rangers need to keep in mind three concepts for 60 minutes tonight.
1. Survive The First Ten, Again.
I cannot stress this enough. On the road, the home team usually comes out one of two ways. They either come out flying or they come out flat. As the road team, the Rangers need to come out flying once again in order to either take advantage of a flat start by the Caps or to hang with them to stall their progress. If you recall in Game 3, the Capitals scored first at 7 minutes; if the Rangers can avoid this, they have a much greater chance at wrapping up this series in Washington.
2. KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
As I noted before, the Rangers are leading this series because they have made less mistakes than the Capitals. If the Blueshirts keep it simple for 60 minutes by doing the little things right as much as possible, there chance at winning this game is good. Things to keep simple tonight would be the breakout passes, managing the grey zone (In or Out, Gomez), and putting pucks on net with a follow up. Varlamov looked shaky at times last night, so with some hard and low shots as much as possible and the Rangers will get chances all night. Finally, and I guess I have to say it; control the penalties. Nothing stupid, nothing pointless. There are going to be penalties for either team, but hopefully only justified ones.
3. Find The Infamous "Killer Instinct"
I always hated that particular saying; that teams in the playoffs have to have a "killer instinct" in order to finish an opponent. I only hate it because sometimes it is just nearly impossible to get anything going when the other team is so desperate and pushing so hard. Look, hopefully the Rangers will come out flying and looking sharp tomorrow night, working as hard as they always do. But one thing I can guarantee is that if they do take a lead (especially if it's more than one goal), the Rangers will drop their two man fore-check (2-1-2, essentially) to a one-man fore-check (1-2-2, is Tom Renney in the house?). This isn't necessarily the worst thing, because the fact of the matter is that when the Rangers run a two-man fore-check they tend to give up plenty of odd-man rushes; which in the end will come back to bite you. The key is that if they do run a 1-2-2 with a lead to jump on loose pucks and turn Capital mistakes into Rangers attacks.
Blueshirt faithful, you will be able to tell within two minutes if our beloved Rangers come out flying and looking sharp this evening. But do not worry if they falter, because the best part about having a defensive minded team is that having a good defense is more reliable than having a good offense. A good offense is like a pilot light; it is always there, but it needs a spark to get going most of the time. A good defense, however, is like a candle. Once the game starts and you light it up, it is there to stay. Yeah, it might flicker from time to time, but it won't go out until something puts it out.
Enough metaphors for one day, Let's Go Rangers.