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New York Rangers Pregame: Rangers vs Lightning, Game 5

Miller on the first line, Zuke is day-to-day, and the Rangers are looking to put themselves within five wins of winning the Stanley Cup tonight at the Garden. It's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final, and its just under two hours away.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

J.T. Miller is going to be with Derick Brassard and Rick Nash on the Rangers' first line because Alain Vigneault believes in him.

"Every player has a role and a directive, something he's supposed to do," Vigneault said. "In J.T.'s case, he's a skilled, physical forward that is tough to handle in 1-on-1 situations.. The reason I moved him up is because I think he's been one of our better forwards." -Alain Vigneault

Per Andrew Gross, these are tonight's expected lines for Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.

Rick Nash - Derick Brassard - JT Miller
Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan - Jesper Fast
Carl Hageli n- Kevin Hayes- Marty St. Louis
Tanner Glass - Dominic Moore - James Sheppard
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marc Staal - Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle - Kevin Klein


Rick Nash's 3 point effort in Game 4 put his postseason total at 10 points, which just so happens to be the same amount of points he put together in 23 games in the 2014 Playoffs. Nash will be the center of attention for both the Lightning's defenseman and scrutinizing, cynical Rangers fans tonight. It was fantastic to watch Rick pick up 2 goals and an assist in Game 4, hopefully he will get back some of that confidence that he seems to have been lacking in the postseason and once again find a way to make Ben Bishop's life miserable.

Mats Zuccarello is day-to-day according to Alain Vigneault, which is great news but it doesn't mean he'll be stepping onto the ice anytime soon.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Rangers say Mats Zuccarello did not and will not skate today. AV says Zucc is &quot;day to day&quot; and &quot;getting better.&quot;</p>&mdash; Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) <a href="">May 24, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Adding Zuccarello back into the mix would be a huge boost to the Rangers' offense that has found a way to get 10 pucks past Ben Bishop in the last 2 games, but rushing Zuccarello back from his head injury would be a very foolhardy thing for the Rangers to do. The fact that Zuke didn't skate today should temper all our expectations on when and if he returns in this series or the next.

It goes without saying that whichever team wins tonight's game will likely be the team that advances to the Stanley Cup Final. The Rangers are going to have to stay disciplined, agitate and shut down the Triplets Line like they did in Game 4, and win the game at even strength if they want to put themselves within 1 win of returning to the Finals for the second straight year.

Just take a moment to think about how grim things looked after Game 3 and how radically that has all changed when the Rangers won Game 4 5-1 in Tampa Bay. In Game 4 Hank looked amazing, St. Louis and Rick Nash both broke their scoring slumps in dramatic fashion, and the Rangers' offense found a way to get it done at even strength and on the man advantage. I'm not sure you could have asked for a better result or effort from the team than what they gave in Game 4 even with all of the shots and chances that the Lightning had, hopefully tonight we'll see the Rangers who took to the ice on the 22nd and not the team that played on the 20th.

Other Notes:

-Jon Cooper has guaranteed that Ryan Callahan will get a goal tonight. Can you make guarantees on the behalf of someone else? Is that a thing now? Rangers Rants.

-John Amirante will be singing the National Anthem for the first time since Game 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Garden better go nuts for Amirante, its wonderful to hear that he feels well enough to give the Garden Faithful at least one more encore. Seth Rothman.

-Keith Yandle has 5 points in the last 2 games.

-Chris Kreider has 6 points in his last 6 games and is currently riding a 4 game point scoring streak.

Let's go Rangers. I don't care if its pretty, I don't care if its terrifying, just find a way to win the game. Go get 'em boys.