NY Rangers brace for Game 5 with playoff lives on the line

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May 5, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers celebrates the goal by center Andrew Copp (18) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game two of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Rangers are facing elimination when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series at Madison Square Garden.

Will the real New York Rangers please stand up!

An incredible season is on the verge of ending tonight as the Rangers try to stop the Penguins from knocking them out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on home ice.

NY Rangers backs against the wall

Their backs are against the wall in this must-win game. Defenseman Adam Fox talked about that after practice on Tuesday.

“I think our backs are obviously against the wall and I think we just have to come out and play hard,” Adam Fox said via the NY Post. “Obviously, coming back home is hopefully going to give us a little spark and I think we just got to give it our all. Down 3-1, you don’t have much left to lose and leave it all out there and the results take care of itself.”

The Blueshirts practice excluded defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who has missed the last three games due to injury. He is listed as day-to-day with his status uncertain until the club takes the ice for pre-game warmups.

Head Coach Gerard Gallant has gone primarily with the same lineup throughout the series (he did insert Jonny Brodzinski for Dylan Hunt on Monday). Basically, he’s going with the guys that got him here.

Gallant feels it’s the style of hockey that has put the team in a 3-1 hole and not the players themselves on the ice.

“I don’t think we have to change anything. I might change something, but I don’t have to,” Gallant said. “We are what we are, we just gotta play well, we gotta play our game. We can’t be loose like we were [Monday] night and expect to win hockey games.”

Will the New York Rangers Stars show up?

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Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

That thinking has come under some criticism with the poor play of the team’s top line of Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and Frank Vatrano, who have been dismantled by the Penguin’s top line of Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, and Bryan Rust in the first four games.

The speedy transition from defense to offense for Pittsburgh has been a glowing indication of why the Rangers are struggling. The defense has been caught running around, turning the puck over frequently and unable to cover players in the slot where a majority of the Penguin’s goals have been scored.

Ryan Strome, 1G-2A for 3pts, recognizes the importance of the top players rising up to the challenge of winning an elimination game. This team weighs heavily on the top two lines. Strome, along with Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp have combined for six goals and 11 points in the four games played.

“You can’t get anywhere without your top guys, but in the NHL and in the playoffs, you can’t get anywhere without an entire four-line, six-D effort. So I think everyone, especially from the last game, can be better. There’s no doubt about that. But if we’re gonna win… we’re going to shift the momentum here, it’s going to take every guy in our lineup.” Strome went on to say, “I think we all know that and it definitely starts with the guys up top, for sure. No doubt, 100 percent, couldn’t agree more.”

Gallant could use the “kids” line a little more that could give the team some balance on the scoresheet.

Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko bring a no fear, hard-charging style of play that is different than the top two lines. Gallant should exploit this on Wednesday and try to cause some havoc for the Penguins who have been able to answer any charge the Rangers throw their way.

Rangers vs Penguins Notes:

  • Expect Patrik Nemeth to be in the lineup tonight if Lindgren is scratched for the fourth straight game.
  • Igor Shesterkin will start tonight. He was named a Vezina Trophy finalist on Tuesday.
  • Mika Zibnejad is looking for his first goal of the playoffs, no better time than tonight to get one in the net.
  • Adam Fox has points in four-straight games (2G-2A), the longest playoff point streak by a Rangers defenseman since Ryan McDonagh in 2014 (5 GP).
  • The Blueshirts are 20-8-3 following a loss of any kind this season.
  • Excluding 2020, 10 Rangers have made their playoff debut this series (Shesterkin, Georgiev, Fox, Lindgren, Chytil, Kakko, Miller, Schneider, Kevin Rooney, Lafrenière).
  • Chris Kreider is the only player who remains with the Rangers after appearing for the team in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Barclay Goodrow (2020 TBL and 2021 TBL) and Sammy Blais (2019 STL) are the only members of the Rangers’ active roster with at least one Stanley Cup. Both Goodrow and Blais are injured and not in the lineup.

NHL Playoff Scores

The Toronto Maple Leafs rallied for a big win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Plus the L.A. Kings have the Edmonton Oilers on the brink of elimination. Get up to speed here.

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