By Brian Monzo
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It’s hard to really point the finger at what went wrong at MSG last night.
The idea of trailing in a playoff series 2-1, playing at home in a fourth game with a 3-goal lead headed into the 3rd period and losing in double overtime is just sickening. The entire series changed in the 3rd period. Despite the effort of Henrik Lundqvist, who made 49 saves, the Rangers are now in win-or-go-home mode.
During the first two periods, the Rangers did all the right things to win. They were fore-checking, hitting and creating opportunities. What they did best was position their sticks in every zone of the ice. They cut off passing lanes, deflected shots and poke-checked when need be. They scored three goals, and the crowd was as loud at the Garden as I can remember in a very long time. The chant of “Can you hear us?” directed to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, after his recent comments, was a surreal moment.
The Rangers did a lot of standing around. Within 4 minutes, the Caps had scored two goals. A few minutes later, a deflected shot would beat Lundqvist to tie it. The first overtime seemed slow, with the most intense moment being Lundqvist stoning Alex Ovechkin on a breakaway. The Rangers seemed quicker in the second overtime, but a mix-up between Lundqvist and Marian Gaborik put the puck on the stick of Jason Chimera. Open net, game over.
Being down 3-1 in the series is bad, but what’s worse is the swagger is gone. After two periods, the Rangers and their fans had the world in their hands. Now all the chants towards Boudreau, the ability to show they can score goals and everything else that pointed to the Rangers perhaps winning this series, is all but gone. Obviously it’s not over till it’s over, but it is going to be a very tough hill to climb.
You hear players and coaches say they’ll move on and be ready. Fans have no choice but to take their word for it, but this was a tough pill to swallow. Leaving MSG, the feeling amongst the Ranger faithful was — well there was no feeling. Just numbness.
Games and losses like this are hard to shake. It’s natural, everyone is human. But the Rangers have to do it.
Somehow looking at the positive, you can look at the fact that the Rangers have been in every game to the very end. They lost two games in OT, and came close on many occasions in a 2-0 loss in Game 2. They have not been blown out or outplayed throughout the series.
At this point, they have to take every game as it comes. It’s hard to be optimistic here, but the Rangers have showed they can played with the Caps. They are just going to have to play better.
Game 4 went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. The feeling leaving MSG was one I will not forget for a long time. I think Giants fans still remember the DeSean Jackson disaster — well this is just about the same. Fans won’t be able to forget it, but the players will — they have to.
What is important to remember is they are not eliminated yet. There is still another game to play. If they win it there will be another one, and one more after that. That’s how they will look at it. No one doubts they will be ready, but some may doubt if them being ready is enough. We can only hope.
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