NEW YORK — In hockey, it’s often said goalies should have short memories after bad games. Hours before their second attempt to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens and advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers chose to make like goalies, and forget Game 5 as a team.
They weren’t looking back 48 hours to what happened in their 7-4 loss.
“That Game 5 was obviously disappointing for us,” said Anton Stralman, “but you can’t really look too much in the past. We have a tremendous opportunity tonight playing in our building, in front of our people and we really want to come out strong and play a totally different game than we did last time.”
It’s hard to imagine seeing another 11-goal game with so much on the line at this point.
The Rangers want to move on to the Final, while the Canadiens are once again trying to stave off elimination. Expect a tighter game. A focus on the little things and the attention to detail should lead to the opposite of the madness on ice that occured Tuesday night.
“We know that we can win this game tonight,” said Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges. “It’s going to take everything. It’s going to take everyone. We have to play the right way. We have to play a smart, sound hockey game. But I think we believe in our group and believe in what we can do. As long as we’re going the right way we give ourselves a chance.”
Montreal is facing elimination for the fourth time in the past two rounds. They shut down the Boston Bruins offensively in Games 6 and 7 in Round 2, limiting them to a single goal over those two games. Game 5 against the Rangers wasn’t the defensive spectacle head coach Michel Therrien wanted to see, but a win is a win this time of year, no matter how ugly.
The Rangers have had to bounce back from a bad performance already in this postseason. After taking a 3-2 series lead on the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round, they blew an opportunity to advance and fell behind 4-0 before eventually falling 5-2 in Game 6. They would respond in Game 7 with a solid 2-1 win.
The takeaways from those two ugly losses are the kind of thing the Rangers can use to their benefit Thursday night, Derick Brassard explained.
“We didn’t play our best, for whatever reason,” he said. “Sometimes you’re on the same page, sometimes you’re not, and last game we were not playing on the same page. I think maybe it’s a good thing we lost that way, so we can show up tonight and play our game. If you look at the Flyers series, they beat us in Game 6 and we came back in Game 7 and played a really solid game. Maybe it was a good thing we lost that way.”
Game 5 should serve as a wake-up call for the Rangers. After taking a 3-1 series lead, they earned three chances to eliminate the Canadiens. They’ve let one slip already and aren’t prepared to head back to Bell Centre for a Game 7 Saturday night.
“We still have a great opportunity,” said Marc Staal. “We win a game at home, we go to the Stanley Cup Final.”
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