Rangers face uphill battle starting with Game 4
Darroll Powe sat at his stall yesterday and regaled the media with memories of the Flyers’ 2010 run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Philadelphia trailed the Bruins 0-3 after the first three games of their second-round series and were down 3-0 after the first 14:10 of the first period of Game 7 before rallying to win the deciding game 4-3. Powe compared the task to climbing a mountain.
The symbolism could not be more appropriate for the Rangers, who enter tonight’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals best-of-seven-series in a similar 0-3 hole.
The Rangers have trailed 0-3 in a best-of-seven series nine times in their history. Six times they have been swept.
The 2010 Flyers, 1975 Islanders and 1942 Maple Leafs are the only three teams in NHL history to win a playoff series after falling behind 0-3.
“You win that one game and things start to change,” Powe said. “After that you worry about the next game, and you realize as you keep going that your confidence builds and grows, and you see the other side kind of go the other way. You can’t do any of that without a big next game.”
But the overriding question is whether the Rangers, facing an opponent that is bigger, stronger, faster and deeper than the Capitals, is able to generate the kind of complete game effort needed to win Game 4.
Boston has more shots on goal (114-96), won more faceoffs (99-81), more hits (115-114) and one more power-play goal (1-0) than the Rangers.
At even strength, the Bruins have outscored the Rangers 9-5. Eleven Bruins have recorded at least one point in the series. Boston’s top line of Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Milan Lucic has combined for four points (a goal and three assists) and a plus-4 rating in the three games. Their fourth line of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille has six points (two goals and four assists) and a plus-9 rating.
In comparison, only three Rangers — Brian Boyle, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan — have a plus rating in the series. All three are plus-1. Nine Rangers have recorded a point in the series, led by the trio of Ryan Callahan, McDonagh and Rick Nash, who have two points (a goal and an assist for all three) apiece in the series.
“I think having the puck more starts with getting the puck from the other team — that’s where we have struggled a little bit with our coverages, in our end zone as far as them sustaining battles there,” head coach John Tortorella said. “Again, not to enhance Boston but they’re a pretty good team, too. That’s a big part of their game. So at times we’re good at it but we’re just not consistent enough.
“We’re trying to forecheck. But you have to play good defense to get anywhere in [the] playoffs and to even think of winning a championship, you have to play good defense. It’s not being this defensive-oriented team; it’s playing good, strong defense and I don’t think we’ve done that consistently enough.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.