Rangers vs. Penguins Game 5: Keys for New York to Win
The New York Rangers have played some sloppy hockey the last three games, but they still have a chance to turn things around. Well, unless you are Ken Campbell of The Hockey News who decided to craft an early eulogy for the Blueshirts.
Ultimately, the Rangers may have lost three games in a row, but as the old adage goes, “the fourth game is always the toughest to win." The Rangers are in a situation where they could force a series-tying game in New York if they win Game 5, and a win in Game 6 would force a toss-up in Game 7.
If the Rangers are going to stage a comeback—even though it seems unlikely at this point—they need to do the following things in an elimination Game 5.
Put Shots on Goal from Every Angle
The Rangers have done a good job shooting pucks into the chest of Marc-Andre Fleury, and if this were a carnival game, they would have popped the balloon by now, and a creepy, mustachioed carny would be in the process of handing them a stuffed animal of their choice.
Mats Zuccarello scored in Game 4 on an innocent backhand that penetrated the crease of Fleury's left shoulder and inner arm. It was a bad goal that should have been stopped, and that instance is something that needs to be repeated in Game 5.
Fleury is going to stop shots that are shot directly into his chest and glove, so the Rangers need to take some bad-angle shots and ones that will take Fleury by surprise. At this point, they need to throw everything but the kitchen sink at Fleury, because a loss in Game 5 will send the Blueshirts to the front nine.
Crash the Net
Goal scoring is obviously a big key for the Rangers if they want to be successful in Game 5. In addition to taking shots from every angle, the Blueshirts need to crash the net. They need to make Fleury uncomfortable, and they need to make him move his feet.
Fleury has remained stationary for a majority of the series because shots are coming from the same place. If players start crashing the net, he will need to commit to an area, and that will lead to situations where the Rangers can exploit the back door.
The Rangers need to make Fleury work, and forwards like Rick Nash, Chris Kreider and Benoit Pouliot need to get in Fleury's face throughout Game 5.
Stop Turning over the Puck
The Rangers gave the puck away 25 times in Game 4, according to the score sheet on NHL.com, and that can't happen in Game 5. The Penguins are too dangerous as a team offensively to give them the puck. The Blueshirts need to be more decisive and they need to make smart decisions.
In the video above, the Penguins scored a short-handed goal off a giveaway by Rick Nash, and that is something that can't happen in Game 5.
Shoot the Puck on the Power Play, Stop Looking for Perfect Pass
At this point of the series, something has to give. The Rangers are 0-for-36 on their last 36 power-play attempts, and they are now tied with the Anaheim Ducks for the longest drought in NHL playoff history. The Ducks went 0-for-36 back in 2007, and they eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup.
While no one is saying the Rangers are going to win the Stanley Cup, they can continue their push forward if they capitalize on the man-advantage in Game 5. At this point, the Rangers just need to make it simple.
Take a shot when it is available instead of looking for the perfect pass. During my days as a basketball player, my coach had a rule when it came to practicing passes. It went, "three passes and shoot." If you didn't shoot after the third pass, you got a basketball hurled toward your body.
The Rangers need to be more aggressive and shoot, because the pretty passes are not working at this point.
Stats via NHL.com