Rangers get deserved wake up call in Game 5 loss to the Habs
With the exception of their lopsided 7-2 win over the Habs in Game 1, the Rangers allowed the Canadiens to stay in every game this series. In fact, the Canadiens just as easily could have won Games 2, 3, and 4 and had a chance to finish the Blueshirts in front of their fans last night.
Instead, the Canadiens went into the game needing to win to stay alive. The Canadiens not only stayed alive last night with their 7-4 win over the Blueshirts, but they also gave their opponent a much needed wake up call.
For starters, the loss certainly brought Rangers' all world netminder Henrik Lundqvist back down to earth. Going into Game 5, he had easily been the team's best player in the series and one of the main reasons why his team was one game away from clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994.
Last night, Lundqvist was shaky in allowing four goals on 18 shots and was pulled in the second period in favor of back-up goaltender Cam Talbot. While he could not be blamed for all four goals allowed, it was quite clear that the "King" was off his game and needed to be taken out to clear his head and prepare for Game 6.
Secondly, the team's loss last night should have also taught them that needless penalties hurt more than anything. The perfect example of this last night was when Rangers' forward Chris Kreider took a penalty just 22 seconds into the game.
The infraction was a trip of Canadiens' defenseman P.K. Subban and the Canadiens made the Rangers pay dearly. Alex Galchenyuk tipped a Subban shot past Lundqvist to give the Habs a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the hockey game.
This is not the first time that Kreider has taken an ill-timed penalty as that is something he did both during the regular season and throughout the playoffs this year, While Kreider brings a lot of offense to the Blueshirts (four goals and six assists for 10 points in nine games), he must cut down on taking unnecessary penalties and stay out of the box.
Lastly, Game 5 showed the Blueshirts what happens when you cannot finish an opponent off when given an opportunity to do so. The Rangers could do not do it against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round and that almost ed to the Flyers winning the series.
With their big win last night, the Canadiens more than likely feel that they are more than back in this series and that they can find ways to beat both Lundqvist and the rest of his teammates. The Rangers have given the Canadiens confidence and now the pressure is really on the Rangers to close out this series tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden.
If the Rangers are smart, they will use last night's loss as a springboard in tomorrow night's game and will play their game, which consists of good goaltending from Lundqvist, playing a disciplined style of hockey and winning when they need to.
This is a lesson that the Rangers needed to learn and tomorrow night at MSG, the Rangers will need to show their head coach Alain Vigneault and their fans that Game 5 is in the past and that their focus is where it should be, which is on winning the game and giving themselves an opportunity to play for hockey's Holy Grail come next week.