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This is an obvious statement, but the Rangers have to win this game tonight. If they get the series back to 2-1, they are still alive. 3-0 is a different story.

You won’t see me quote a basketball coach too often in a hockey blog, but Doc Rivers had a great quote last night after the Celtics lost game 4. He said, “I could hear them in the locker room, saying ‘hey, guys we’re going back home, it’s going to be okay.’ I told them, ‘You have to go make it okay.’ We have to go make it okay.”

Since falling into the 0-2 hole, the Rangers have all been saying that they were still in this series because they were heading home to MSG. I just hope they remember that nothing magical happens when you take your home ice that suddenly makes you play better. The team is going to have to earn these wins. Playing at MSG with 18,000 fans at your back is going to help, but nothing is automatic.

A few game notes:

Remember that lineup shuffle from yesterday? Scratch that. Petr Prucha will be scratched in favor of Ryan Hollweg, which presumably means that Shanahan will skate in his usual spot with Gomez and Avery. Strudwick will also be scratched, which means the fans at MSG will see plenty of Christian Backman tonight. Renney said that Paul Mara will probably see some time on the power play unit, so we got that right.

Despite Therrien’s comments yesterday that suggest otherwise, the Rangers feel they have done very little this series to make it hard for Marc-Andre Fleury to see the puck. Renney’s reaction to hearing Therrien’s comments: “Really?” The Rangers beat up on Martin Brodeur in round 1 by putting bodies in front for screens and deflections. Look for a return to that form tonight at MSG.

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Here once again is the definitive series preview, brought to you by a joint effort of the creators of this blog. The Rangers posted a 5-3 record against the Penguins this season. Can Henrik Lundqvist keep Sid the Kid and his cronies from punching the Rangers out of the playoffs? The only way to find out is to keep reading.

It’s on the long side, so click the “more” link below to continue reading.

(more…)

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Going into game 4 of the series the visiting team has won each game. In fact, visiting teams are 13-14 so far in the playoffs. Jaromir Jagr, while laughing, had this to say.

It’s been huge so far. I knew it was going to be like that. That’s why we lost the last game (of the season). Everybody thought we lost but it was pretty smart. Sometimes when you lose, you actually win.

Hopefully the Rangers can break the streak in their series tonight when they play Game 4 against the Devils at Madison Square Garden.

Tom Renney is gonna be going with the same lineup as Game 3. That means that Petr Prucha (poor Petr 😦 ), Jason Strudwick, Marek Malik and Colton Orr will be the scratches. I guess it makes sense to keep Petr out of the lineup since the series has been very rough and he’s a pretty small guy. I have a feeling that Orr might take Hollweg’s place once he’s skated some more.

Something to look for in tonight’s game:

  • Does Sean Avery set up shop in front of Martin Brodeur?
    • Which way is he facing?
  • Does he continue his goal streak?
    • Sean Avery has scored a goal in all 3 games so far.
  • Will anyone drop the gloves?
    • There’s been so much tension between the two teams yet there hasn’t been a fight yet.
  • Will VS be blacked out again in the Philadelphia area?
    • They showed PBR (bull riding) here at Drexel (which is in Philadelphia) on Sunday Night
    • Oh yeah, the Game is on VS. Kill me now!

Note: in the NY area, the game is on MSG. -Marc

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Nothing really to say about this game that you don’t already know.

The Rangers lineup will be the same. I would have liked to see Petr Prucha instead of Ryan Hollweg, but I guess you can’t argue with 2 straight wins. The only change for the Devils is that they plan to dress Valeri Vishnevsky on defense.

The series started to get a little heated in Game 2, but still just pushing and shoving and no real fisticuffs. I think the Devils are going to come out and try to send the Rangers a physical message that this series is not over. The Garden will be rocking tonight.

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It’s hard to argue with the results. Their 4-1 victory in Game 1 on the road was definitely just what the Rangers wanted. The problem is with the methods.

After a game filled with several lucky breaks and some really dangerous neutral zone and defensive zone giveaways, Jaromir Jagr called the 4-1 outcome “unfair” to the Devils. According to Josh Thomson over at Rangers Report, most of the Rangers felt they were outplayed by the Devils in all aspects of the game except goaltending. I would add that the Rangers were stellar on the penalty kill.  The PP goal allowed can be excused because Straka broke his stick on the play and it turned into a 5-on-3.

At any rate, the prevailing thought is that Game 1 was something of an aberration. Nobody expects Brodeur to have another soft game, and everybody feels fortunate that the Devils couldn’t capitalize on any of the odd-man rushes they were able to generate off turnovers. The Rangers have a chance to take control of this series with a win tonight

Rangers keys to the game:

  • Better puck control on the breakout and through the neutral zone
  • Another solid game from Henrik Lundqvist
  • Continuing the effective Penalty Killing

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A Rangers win tonight guarantees finishing either 4th or 5th in the Conference.

Brendan Shanahan will be playing tonight, Blair Betts will not. He will most likely play Sunday against the Devils.

Petr Prucha rejoins Ryan Hollweg and Fredrik Sjostrom on the 4th line.

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The Islanders have been something of an achilles heel for the Rangers this season.  2-3-1 against the Islanders but 17-3-1 against the rest of the Atlantic division combined.  Yes, the Rangers have lost as many games to the Islanders in regulation as they have to the Devils, Flyers, and Penguins combined.  So, if you were thinking that a win in the next two games and a playoff clinch for the Blueshirts are a foregone conclusion, you’re wrong.  The Islanders will definitely want to play spoiler and they have matched up well against the Rangers this season.

Brendan Shanahan will probably play in the game tonight.  Blair Betts may play, but according to Sam Weinman, “Shanahan is more likely than Betts.”  Even if Betts does not play tonight, he should be ready to go for tomorrow or Sunday.

Interestingly, the Rangers opted not to hold a morning skate today.  I’m not sure why they would change the routine with just 3 games left in the season, but this was a planned move by Renney and co., and perhaps it is an effort to save some energy heading into the upcoming 3 games in 72 hours.

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