While Bruce Boudreau made his feelings on the discrepancy between the home atmospheres quite clear in a radio interview earlier this week, the truth of the matter is the Rangers won both regular season games at the Verizon Center. They’ll need another victory there Saturday to keep their quarterfinal series with the Capitals alive.
The Blueshirts are still recovering from a painful 4-3 double overtime home loss in Game 4 that saw them blow a 3-0 lead.
“This isn’t a time to get down. We can’t start pointing fingers, getting frustrated and getting down on ourselves because we still have a series here. We just have to find a way to win a game there,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “We knew we were going to have to win at least one [on the road] to win the series.”
They also have to put the puck in the net when given abundant advantages. The Rangers have totaled seven goals in the four games, and are a miserable 1-for-17 on the power play.
“It’s a struggle,” Tortorella said. “Until our power play gets going, we have to continue to try to kill their power plays off. It’s been a struggle. It’s been a struggle. We’ve tried a lot of different people. It just hasn’t worked. So our penalty killing has to be that much better until we find a way to score a power play goal.”
So the tasks for the 12 forwards and six defensemen is simple: Shoot from everywhere and drive to the net. Michal Neuvirth appeared flustered when the Rangers pressured him and took residence in his crease in Games 3 and 4. Neuvirth allowed six goals on 74 shots in the two games at the Garden.
“We (have) been talking about that,” Marian Gaborik said earlier in the week. Gaborik scored his first playoff goal since the 2006-07 postseason Wednesday night. It was a side-of-the-net jam shot that pushed the Rangers’ lead to 2-0. “Just got to keep skating and drive the net
“Drove the net and goals are scored right in the crease, right in the goal. So just have to drive the net and find something there.”
Otherwise, a season in which the groundwork for future teams was laid will be over.
Let’s call Bruce Boudreau’s comments to a Washington D.C. radio station Monday about Madison Square Garden and Rangers fans what they really are:
A cheap parlor trick that very nearly backfired.
Washington has lost four of the last five playoff series in which they have had 2-0 leads. By making the state of the Garden, and its atmosphere, a topic of conversation, Boudreau was attempting to deflect pointed questions away from his team.
Following Wednesday night’s 4-3 double overtime win, he and the Capitals were able to laugh about the cauldron of noise that was the Garden. The building was loud during John Amirante’s rendition of the National Anthem and grew progressively louder through the first two periods, capped by chants of “Bou-dreau” and “Can you hear us?”
“They are passionate people. It was great. They responded well. The atmosphere was great tonight,” Jason Chimera said. “We were laughing before the game when they were saying, ‘Shut up, Bruce,’ before the puck drop. It was pretty funny. ‘Can you hear us?’ was pretty good. It was pretty funny.
“Anytime you look up and everyone is yelling, it’s great. It’s playoff hockey.”
— Marc Staal and Dan Girardi were dominant in the loss Wednesday. Girardi, who Tortorella said earlier in the week has “b—ls the size of the building” blocked nine shots in 39:95. Staal had three hits and five blocked shots in 36:55, along with a great play in the second overtime to force Alex Ovechkin to take an off-angled shot.
In the immediate aftermath, though, Staal was in no mood to reflect on what the Rangers’ top pair had accomplished.
“Playoff time is about wins and we couldn’t get it done,” Staal said. “As far as personally and things like that, it all kind of disappears in the playoffs.”
— Mike Knuble was scratched in Game 4’s victory. It is believed he injured his hand while scoring the goal that tied Game 3 at 2-2.
— Both teams will have Friday off. Game 5 is Saturday afternoon at the Verizon Center. NBC will have the broadcast.