Eastern Conference Finals schedule:
|5||Sunday 5/24||8 PM||MSG||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|6||Tuesday 5/26||8 PM||Amalie||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
|*7||Friday 5/29||8 PM||MSG||NBCSN, CBC, TVA|
To borrow a phrase from the other game thread, "Okay, so I'm sitting here in my
Remparts Tampa shirt, and my IceDogs hat 'Screw the Rags' pin, but I'm in no way biased as I write this preview. Right? We have an understanding? Great."
Let's just say that it's game 5, and the Bolts better win it, because I suffered through game 4 for them.
Everyone's exhausted, I get it, whatever. So let's address what went wrong with the Bolts in game 3 (in which they gave up five goals despite winning) and game 4, and how they can make that better.
Ben Bishop beat young star Petr Mrazek, despite that guy shutting out the Bolts twice during the first round. Bishop also beat Carey Price, who never seemed to get his act together against Tampa. And for the first two games, Bishop looked pretty great against Henrik Lundqvist. What changed?
Frankly, I think that when the Rangers get fewer chances for low-quality shots and more chances for high-quality shots, Bishop falters. Among other goals, he gave up a power play goal to Rick Nash and another one to Marty Fricking St Louis in game four, but because the Bolts played an excellent possession game, he didn't see much else.
Bishop's typically been able to bounce back, but now he's up against a pissed-off Lundqvist who is dead set on not giving up more than one or two shots. Will Bishop be able to give Tampa a chance until they can crack the evolved Pokemon that Lundqvist has become? Peppering Lundqvist with shots won't work, so maybe Tampa actually needs to hand possession over to the Rangers for a lot of low-quality shots so that Bishop can keep his head in the game and Lundqvist can be lulled into security.
(2) Bottom six.
You're sure as hell not contributing goals, so for the love of dog, keep your worn-out, veteran/rookie asses out of the box. It's clear that the Rangers are good at the PP, and it's also clear that the Bolts' PK somehow evaporated. Whatever. Focus on smiling and saying, "It's a fine night, isn't it?" when Rangers chirp, and maybe practice a few "Bless your hearts." Also complement the Refs' hair and tell them sincerely that they smell lovely today.
(Cedric Paquette, your dives are a thing of beauty. Keep those up, especially the ones where you dramatically flail as you trip over someone's extended leg. Good work, young soldier. Ryan Callahan, either play like you mean it or admit that your appendix hurts and sit out in favor of someone who is, hmmm, younger and swifter and totally rested, perhaps?)
(3) Hit more, especially the people obstructing the top six.
At some point, Jon Cooper mentioned that playing a more physical game was wearing out the D. That was pretty obvious in game 4, where the D were reluctant to hit the other team, because (I'm betting) everyone is a mass of bruises. In fact, the defense in the final period of the last game kinda sucked altogether. Come on. You guys are TWO WINS AWAY FROM THE SCF. Now is not the time to slow down, not even you, Andrej Sustr.
In the last game, the only person who scored in the top six was Steven Stamkos, and that's not for lack of trying. Lundqvist was laser-focused, and even on excellent breakaways, managed to stop the shots. There were noticeably fewer good scoring chances for the first and second lines, however, which means that everyone's interested in obstructing them and the Rangers finally figured out how.
(Case in point, the tussle in the above picture happened at the end of the game when Tyler Johnson was just 100% done with whatever shit the Rangers kept pulling on him.) Matt Carle is potentially in tonight's lineup, so perhaps he'll be able to do what he does best. You know what that is, Carle. Do it.
And finally, please embarrass the Rangers at home. Make every single Rangers fan walk out of there feeling as depressed as I did after game 4. Thanks!