Not going to lie here, I thought the Rangers should have been able to handle the Caps at even strength fairly easily based on these two team's play in the regular season. This hasn't been happening, though as the Rangers have been outchanced 39-36 by the Caps at evens heading into tonight's game. They aren't getting dominated but they were outplayed in two out of three games and were able to scrape out an ugly win on Monday. Those kind of wins always go a long way in the playoffs, though and it gave the Rangers a chance to climb back in the series. The Rangers are also a better team than what they showed in the first three games, so this series could very well go the full distance if the Rangers could return to their level of play during the regular season. Last night, we saw just that.
The Rangers looked more like the team that many expected to see this playoffs as they had complete control of things for about 75% of the game. Their offense came back to life in recording a total of 23 scoring chances and keeping Washington's better forwards quiet for the majority of the game. They were able to do this well in Game 3, as well but didn't create much offense at even strength. This ended up being the difference maker last night as they did not allow the Caps to have much sustained zone time at all.
In addition to that, the Rangers got something they've received little of this series, which is good bounces. Their first goal came after Taylor Pyatt knocked down a bad clearing attempt from Braden Holtby and it allowed Brad Richards to eventually score on an empty net. They got another one in the third period when Carl Hagelin was able to draw Holtby out of position and quickly get the puck to Derek Stepan, who fired the puck into an empty cage for the Rangers fourth goal of the game, which ultimately ended up being the game-winner. These kinds of chances & breaks weren't happening to the Rangers in the first three games, so being able to get these bounces likely played a role in the team's confidence. The Rangers obviously can't rely on bounces to advance but they have to like their chances now that the score is tied and their team just played easily their best game of the series.no comments