After dropping two straight in the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Rangers are still remaining positive. They know how important Game 4 on Friday night is in Tampa Bay. They will either come out tying the series up heading back home to the Garden or down 3-1 in the best of seven series.
After allowing six goals in two straight games, their defense must be better. Whether it be breakdowns that lead to goals or miscommunication which leaves a man open, the team defense in this series has been something Rangers fans have not seen all season long. Twelve goals in two goals in not something to be proud about.
The Rangers will also collectively need to figure out a way to shut down the line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat. In this series after three games, this line ha 8 goals, 8 assists, and 29 shots on goal. For the entire playoff duration, this line has 25 goals, 22 assists, and 105 shots on goal. New York will need to find an answer to shut this line quickly.
The defense has had an easy time shutting down team’s top players when they are on separate lines, but Tampa is showing holes in the defensive capabilities for the Blueshirts to shutdown an entire line.
Both teams play a fast up tempo style and Tampa is showing why they are one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL. Their power play is lethal and striking from any angle. If the Rangers want to be successful in Game 4, they will need to stay out of the box and not take selfish penalties which has cost them all series long.
Henrik Lundqvist will need to be better as well. He has certainly not been playing his clutch playoff style hockey we have seen all postseason long. He is hard on himself and one of the most competitive players in the sport. He puts the weight of the team on his shoulders. The Lightning have seemingly figured out Henrik Lundqvist, but as a professional, his game can easily be turned around. As long as Henrik remains calm and keeps his game simple while remaining focus, the Rangers will see the old Henrik Lundqvist that has helped them be so successful.
There certainly has been no lack of will from the Rangers side, but hockey is a crazy and fickle game. Anything can happen in a blink of an eye. Momentum can switch instantly and one team never seems to have an advantage for long in this series. Both teams play a fast style game and are willing to get in track meets with each other. Friday is a must win for New York. They have shown that losing two games in a row can be meaningless and they will come back to make you pay, but the Lightning are not the Capitals. They must come out of the gate swinging on Friday and play desperate hockey.