Game Three Virtual Must-win for Rangers

The Rangers’ playoff future could hang on the outcome of tonight’s Game Three against Washington at Madison Square Garden.

If New York holds serve and wins, it’s a brand new series, after the Rangers lost a pair of tight ones down in D.C..  If the Caps win again, though, the parent club faces a nearly insurmountable three-games-to-none series deficit.

A definite plus for the Rangers is that they seem to be getting healthier.  Derek Dorsett finally made his Ranger debut in New York’s 1-0 overtime loss in Game Two, and Brian Boyle came back from an eight-game injury absence in that game too.  With those returns, Whale callups Kris Newbury and Chris Kreider were scratched from the Game Two lineup.

Now, media reports out of Gotham indicate that Ryane Clowe, who has been out since getting dinged up in the Rangers’ last regular-season game, might be ready to get back in uniform tonight.  Sounds like there is a chance that Marc Staal might play too, after having missed two months and 29 games recovering from the scary eye injury he sustained March 5 against Philadelphia.

The media’s reading of the tea leaves suggested that Arron Asham would be scratched if Clowe was able to go, but didn’t see any indication of who might possibly come out to make room for Staal.

Chris Kreider

Chris Kreider

Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News conjectured prior to the morning skate that Kreider might get a chance to get back into the lineup, with the Rangers’ offense having been largely stagnant in the first two games of the series and given his success in putting pucks in the net in last year’s playoffs.  That notion was scotched, though, when it turned out that Kreider was not at Madison Square Garden with the main group, but instead was skating with the extras at the Ranger practice facility.

If Clowe can indeed play, that should be a shot in the arm for the attack, and I thought Leonard elicited a significant statement from Derick Brassard that, “We can’t pass on any shots.”  From what I’ve seen of the first two games, it looks to me as though the Rangers haven’t had enough of a shooter’s mentality, especially on the power play.  They’re holding on to that puck an extra tick or two, allowing the Capitals and goaltender Braden Holtby to close whatever window might, or might not, have been there.  Seems like they have to forget about the pretty play and get more pucks at the net.

Awfully easy to say from my couch.

Ranger head coach John Tortorella’s “money quote” to the media today was, “I think we’re close.  I will put it to you that way.  It means squat if you don’t win.”


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