And just like that, we've got a series.
Through the first two games they only managed to beat Caps goaltender Braden Holtby once. Their effort was so poor that even Holtby admitted “It wasn't a hard game for me.” (via Washington Post)
Down two games to none, the Rangers returned to New York a battered team. The Capitals had outplayed them in every facet of the game except for goaltending, and although the next two games were on home ice, it was clear this series was Washington’s to lose.
But against all odds—and despite a slow start—the Rangers took Game 3. Their forecheck improved and they finally found their scoring touch. Game 4 was even better; the Rangers established long periods of offensive-zone pressure, and Ryan McDonagh’s ability to neutralize Alexander Ovechkin made the Capitals a much less dangerous team.
Hard work and home-ice advantage turned this series around, and though it’s even at two games apiece, the Rangers will have to win at least one game in Washington if they’re going to advance to the second round.
They improved in Games 3 and 4, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. They remain too inconsistent to put together a full 60 minutes, and that makes them a vulnerable hockey team.
As the Rangers prepare for a pivotal Game 5, we’ll take a look at the three adjustments they’ll have to make to their game if they’re going to win this Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.