That’s what the Rangers are saying, pretty much — that Game 5 has to be treated as just the next game in the series, not a potential clincher, no what-ifs, none of that.
Killer instinct? Yeah, you need that. And, yes, historically there are many cases where if you don’t close out a series when you have the chance it comes back to bite you at some point. Maybe you run out of gas earlier, or maybe you get more banged up. To win it all, it’s important to do it in as few games as possible in this tournament-of-attrition.
That said, the Rangers can’t project any further than Game 5 or they will be in trouble, and in a way, having Game 4 go the way it did — being such a battle, having Washington all over them for so much of the game — maybe it will be easier to focus on the task at hand and not look beyond the present.
“I think our guys have had a pretty level head on them as we’ve started playoffs here, and we’ve had some tough times through our first few games here and we’ve had some good times. But we haven’t gotten too down and we haven’t gotten too high, and that’s the key. We’re playing against a very good hockey club that we know doesn’t feel it’s out of it here at all. So we need to just keep on playing. It’s about playing the next game and preparing for the next game and do the best we can. We’re not looking at what the numbers are as far as winning and losing. We’re looking to get prepared to play another game.”
“I think it’s importan that you don’t think it’s a close-out game where you can advance. you have to think of it as, maybe, Game 1, or something. You have to focus on what you have to do, not so much, ‘What if we win?’ or ‘What if we lose?’ Just focus on what we have to do.
“(Game 4) was definitely a tough game, but we got it done. I think we feel we could play a little bit better, but I don’t think you can battle any harder than we did, because we played as a team and we worked so hard we got it done int he end. It wasn’t pretty, but in the end we got it done, and nobody really cares.
“I think, especially, the first couple of games we were very focused on what to do, and yesterday we were locked in on what to do, and not so mich on what’s going on around us. You have to break it down a little bit and not look at the whole picture. For me, it’s stop the next puck and that’s it. Further than that, I don’t want to think. That’s my approach tomorrow.’
“If we keep on flirting with the discipline problems we’ll lose. And not just one game. Momentum changes, and we’ve been flirting with that all series long. A big part of our situation last night is I thought our penalty killing was just outstanding, along with some great goaltending at key times. But you cannot keep going to the well like that, with the lack of discipline that we have shown at times, and expect to continue to compete in the series. We’ve gone there too many times.”
Kenny Albert — he’s been getting a lot of notice here because he’s so good with the numbers — is writing on MSG.com today that the Rangers have been up 3-1 in a series 12 times and have won every one of them. In eight of those series, the Rangers won in five. In three the opponent won Game 5 and went down in Game 6. Only one went to Game 7, and that was June 14, 1994. You might remember that game … against Vancouver?
For all the 3-1 stats, see the post-game thread from last night, or click here for the NHL’s playoff record book page.
Everybody practiced today. Should be the same lineup tomorrow.
Redden was fourth. (just wanted to see if you’re paying attention).