New York Rangers leaders confident heading into Game 5 of ECF

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Jun 1, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning with left wing Chris Kreider (20) and defenseman Adam Fox (23) in the third period of game one of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
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No Quit in New York isn’t just a marketing campaign, it’s a state of mind adopted by every New York Rangers players this season.

They were down 3-1 in their first round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and won that.

They were down 2-0, then 3-2 versus the Carolina Hurricanes before taking it in 7 games.

The fact that this team is 2-2 against the defending Stanley Cup Champions with two out of three at home should be confidence boosting. However, outside of the Rangers locker room there’s a sense that by not winning either Games 3 or 4 in Tampa this is now the Lightning’s series to take.

New York Rangers confident heading to Game 5

“It’s not easy, but we can’t be sad,” Artemi Panarin said. “For sure it’s not going to help us. Try to be positive. We have to be positive. We’ve been in a worse spot before, so we’re OK. I hope we do well in the Garden. Our fans, nice to see again. Try to do something more.”

Yes, the series shifts to Madison Square Garden where the Blueshirts are 8-1 in these playoffs. Matter of fact, they’re undefeated on home ice after dropping Game 1 to the Penguins in triple overtime.

The New York Rangers have had a positive outlook throughout the season and nothing has changed here in June.

“They’re back to back Stanley Cup Champions and we are in the Eastern Conference Final playing a really good team,” Jacob Trouba said. “I don’t think we expected to walk in here and blow the doors off the thing. This is competitive hockey. These are going to be hard games. It’s a best of three and that’s something to be pretty excited about as a group. We’re in a pretty good spot here.”

Newcomer Andrew Copp, who has been moved to center for an injured Ryan Strome is also feeling confident.

“We’re probably in the best spot we’ve through three series with two games at home,” he said. “I think we play really good at home. I think we’re all confident with where we’re at right now but there needs to be an increased level of desperation.”

Rangers on what they need to do better

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One thing that the Rangers identified immediately after their Game 4 loss was their inability to make life tough on Andrei Vasilevskiy.

“I don’t care who is in net, every goalie in the world struggles with a puck that goes east-west, has to battle through traffic and then is immediately released on net. They can’t get set,” Chris Kreider said. “That’s what gives us our best chance, and I think to a guy we probably all could say we received a pass like that tonight and got it, picked our head up, tried to pick a spot as opposed to getting it off quick.”

Another area that needs improvement is the Blueshirts’ forecheck.

“I think it’s simple. It’s our forecheck and sustained pressure,” Tyler Motte explained “When we’re buzzing around the zone for 20 to 30 seconds getting pucks and bodies to the net consistently, we see a lot of speed and skill coming from our group especially up front.”

The Rangers will need to also find another level of compete without losing poise.

“They better be calm but they better be ready to play harder,” Gerard Gallant said. “Now it’s a two out of three with home ice but we have to play better. We didn’t block enough shots or finish enough hits. Those are the good things that win hockey games. We didn’t pay the price.”

Time for the Rangers to pay the price.

Note: Some quotes from interviews posted on team’s YouTube Channel.

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Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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