Gerard Gallant, the coach of the Rangers, doesn’t believe in the effect of teams that are playing well in the playoffs.
The Lightning (who had a serious disadvantage in the depth-chart) have put pressure back on the Rangers after the two teams played Game 4 in overtime. A talented roster this is, but has left them exposed at the center position for Game 5.
The Blueshirts can win this game and head to New York in good position, never mind the fact that Gallant has already gone against his teams before by turning the tides on the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes.
“That’s the thing about momentum, there’s no such thing,” Gallant said on Wednesday before flying back from Florida.
“As soon as we’re up two games to none, I don’t think it’s right that we carry on any momentum. As soon as the game is over, it’s time to prepare for the next one. The momentum doesn’t carry over. That’s what we’ve proved.”
The Rangers now will have to prove it against the defending Stanley Cup champions who have shaken off any doubts about rust or the mileage that comes with three playoff runs in 22 months. And they’ll need to kickstart the offense after a 4-1 loss down in Tampa.
The Rangers are coming back to Madison Square Garden for game 7 of the playoffs on Thursday night. The Rangers have improved their home record to 8-1 during the playoffs so far, outscoring teams 38-20 with a lead over Detroit 3-2.
Andrew Copp talked about the advantage of playing against all-stars.
“Any time things are going well, they’re behind you and increasing that momentum and snowballing a little,” said Copp. “When things aren’t going well – as soon as you get any sign of life – they can push you in the right direction,” said Copp.
The Rangers were able to chalk up the win to a combination of factors, including having the last change and a favorable crowd. They believe tactically that it has been “a little bigger” in this series compared to others.
The Rangers hope it will help to open an offense that has been scoreless in two of the past three games. Tyler Motte pinned the drought on a lack of pressure by the Rangers’ forecheck.
“We are just not having as much success as we would like to, “Motte said. “I think that is going to be a big game changer for us.”
What will be the lineup when the Rangers return to the ice?
There was no update on Chytil or Strome on Wednesday morning, but Gallant revealed that the latter forward was “real close” to playing in Game 4. Strome went out in the second period of Game 4 due to a lower-body injury, while Chytil was out with an upper-body injury.
In their absence, the line blender setup was brought out. The trios of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Frank Vatrano did not fare well as they were out-chanced 11-7 in shot attempts in 6:40 together.
The Rangers started their scoring with a 6-on-4 goal with less than 4 minutes left.
“We were not able to find a way to break through that neutral zone and get sustained zone time,” Copp said. “So I think we’re all confident where we’re at right now, but there’s got to be an increased level of desperation for sure.”
It is comforting to know that the Rangers are still in a better spot than they’ve been in for much of the playoffs. One reason being, a victory would put them one step closer to reaching the Stanley Cup final–something that hasn’t happen since 2014.
The Rangers are going up against an opponent in Game 7 who doesn’t have a multi-game deficit.
“It’s a best-of-three in the Eastern Conference finals,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said on Tuesday night. “That’s something to be excited about as a group. We’re going to go home and do what we can to continue our success.”