by Patrick Hoffman on 05/23/12 at 09:00 AM ET
Coming into tonight’s Game 5 between the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden, it appears that there are more questions than answers regarding the state of the Blueshirts after their 4-1 loss in Game 4.
While the Rangers were not exactly dead in their loss in Game 4, the team certainly was nowhere near its best. The club spent too much time in the penalty box, was outworked, outhustled and outshot and offensively, were too quiet to generate quality scoring chances against future Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur.
Obviously, the team said all the right things both after the game and after yesterday’s practice but one has to wonder what the team is really thinking. For example, what is Rangers’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto thinking after his terrible performance in Game 4 in which he was the main cause of the Devils’ second goal by Travis Zajac and was also benched by head coach John Tortorella?
Another question that needs to be answered tonight is regarding the team’s offense? Where have the likes of Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards gone? While it is not fair to put all of the pressure on Gaborik and Richards to perform, these are the only two guys on the Blueshirts, with the exception of team captain Ryan Callahan, that can produce and put the puck in the net on regular basis.
Yet one more question that needs to be answered is can the Rangers’ keep their composure and play a disciplined hockey game tonight? In Game 4, the team took 43 minutes in penalties and while it is understandable that this is a physical game, a physical series and these two teams hate each other, it is not wise to spend a lot of time in the box because eventually, it will come back to haunt them.
Luckily for the Rangers, they have been in tonight’s situation before. For the third straight series, the Blueshirts are tied at two games apiece heading into Game 5 and are 1-1 in those games this postseason.
While we all know what happened in the first two rounds, one has to wonder what fate has in store for the Rangers in this round. Just another question that will have to be answered tonight.
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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.