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Handy Dandy Playoff Notebook: Another Elimination Game

  • The New York Rangers lost Game 5 on home ice, and finds themselves in yet another potential elimination game.
  • The Blueshirts prevailed in Games 5, 6, and 7 in Round 1, and in Games 6 and 7 in Round 2. Tonight they will look to eek out another win to send the series back to Madison Square Garden for a Game 7 in which... wait for it... “anything can happen.”
  • There’s not much to say about Game 5, and I feel that this entry is going to be one of the shorter ones of the Handy Dandy Playoff Notebook series.
  • There’s a lot of things that were frustrating in Thursday’s loss, and there will be time to get into that if the Rangers season ends tonight or next Tuesday. The team still is alive, and although they have a tough road ahead of them, stranger shit has happened before.
  • Despite the Rangers losing three games in a row, in which the last two saw the game-winning goal scored with just minutes remaining, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them win tonight. I remember how I felt after Game 5 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final, and vividly remember watching in disbelief as Derick Brassard went off in Game 6 on the road vs. Tampa.
  • All year long the team has thrived off of being the comeback kids, and after staging returns from the abyss in the prior two rounds, why was this going to be any different? If nothing else, tonight’s Game 6 will hopefully see the team give everything they got, and make decisions that properly reflect the desperation of the team.
  • There were spurts of that spirit on Thursday, but not nearly enough. It was baffling to see the only power play the Rangers got was the too many men on the ice call that Igor Shesterkin drew by chucking the puck up the ice, but today the team has to assume they are getting no calls.
  • Tampa Bay is going to attempt to bury the Rangers early. They realize what is on the line, and don’t want to have to try and win a Game 7 before having to go take on the Colorado Avalanche four days later. The gap between the end of the series and the start of the final will remain the same whether the series goes 6 or 7, but an extra game left to chance is something they’ll assuredly want to avoid.
  • Anyone who has watched this team, read this blog, or followed along on Twitter knows the story regarding 5v5 play. We understand how the Rangers are built. We understand how they have played, and how tactically there have been things that lead to them being a shitty puck possession team. It isn’t a new story, and it is something they’ve been able to get away with, but that hasn’t been the case for much of this series.
  • It is understandable that in some respects the numbers are poor because the Rangers are willing to lose the overall battle by conceding low danger chances, but the last few games have shown what happens when special teams are taken out of the equation.
  • Shesterkin’s been amazing, and he deserves a lot of credit for how he rebounded following two rough games in Pittsburgh. He’s looked better in his initial foray into postseason than Hank did, and that’s very good for the team and what it looks to accomplish in the future.
  • The kids have gained a lot of experience, have grown over the last few weeks, and have been part of some big moments. I hope they are given more of a chance to do that today.
  • There’s no doubt that fatigue has set in, and various players are battling injuries. That’s part of the deal with playoff hockey. If things go poorly we may look back on some end of regular season decisions regarding rest, but we can save that for another day.
  • This has been a really fun run for a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in five years, and no one is ready for it to be over yet. The Rangers are simultaneously so close, yet so far away from what they want to accomplish, and with that said the dream is still alive.
  • At this point asking for another miraculous comeback would be downright greedy given what they’ve already pulled off, but we’re going to ask for it anyway.
  • Rangers in 7.