by Patrick Hoffman on 05/07/12 at 11:06 AM ET
This is something that the New York Rangers have to be undergoing as the team gets set for its Game 5 tilt tonight with the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden.
While the Blueshirts were the top team in the Eastern Conference, Atlantic Division and one of the best teams in the entire league, it has not been an easy postseason for this hockey club. Rather, it has been one where the Rangers, just like they had to in the regular season, have had to prove that they can handle tough situations, play comeback hockey and win games when it matters.
The team will be in that same kind of situation tonight for Game 5. Based on the way this series has been played so far, it has the makings of another seven game series for the Blueshirts and one that could end up proving to be difficult to win because the way the Capitals are playing.
The Capitals are essentially playing “Ranger hockey”. They are blocking a lot of shots, playing physical, breaking up a lot of passes in their own zone and capitalizing on mistakes made by the opposition.
In turn, the Blueshirts will need to figure out a better way to beat that system. This means finding ways around shot blockers, putting more pucks to the net on Capitals’ netminder Braden Holtby, crashing for rebounds, creating traffic in front of the net and being patient with the puck.
The Rangers will also have to stop taking penalties late in hockey games. Doing that hurt them in Games 2 and 4 in this series and because of that, this series is tied.
The team will need to deal with the pressure tonight and find a way to win a must-win hockey game at the most important time of the year. Hopefully, the Rangers have the mentality and the resolve to get it done and go up in the series.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.