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PHT Morning Skate: Rangers battle to return to Stanley Cup Final

May 27, 2014, 8:04 AM EDT

Martin St. Louis AP

It was less than a week ago that the Chicago Blackhawks had a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Final and were up 2-0 against Los Angeles late in the second period of Game 2. The Kings overcame that deficit with six unanswered goals and haven’t looked back since.

With a 5-2 victory last night, the Kings have a commanding 3-1 series lead for the first time in the playoffs.

We’ve seen them excel with their backs against the wall during their 2014 postseason run. The question now is if Chicago will be able to give them a taste of their own medicine or if the Kings will eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champions just one year after Chicago did the same thing to them.

While the Kings and Blackhawks get ready for a critical Game 5, the Rangers and Canadiens will play in a key contest of their own.

Game 5: Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers [Rangers lead series 3-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

When Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was eliminated from the series after just one game, it was fair to wonder if Montreal’s chances of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final were going with him. In desperation they turned to Dustin Tokarski, a 24-year-old with just 10 games worth of NHL experience, in the hopes that he could at least hold his own against a world-class netminder like New York’s Henrik Lundqvist.

Tokarski has risen to the challenge, but as it turns out, that alone might not be enough to save the Canadiens’ season.

Following the Rangers’ 7-2 blowout victory in Game 1, each game has been decided by two or fewer goals and the last two contests have gone to overtime. However, the fact that the Rangers have been winning by the skin of their teeth doesn’t make the situation any less dire for Montreal.

Martin St. Louis, the overtime hero in Game 4, has been superb and former Canadiens draft pick Ryan McDonagh has frustrated Montreal. Even Rick Nash has finally been clicking finally ended his goal scoring drought earlier in the series.

With the Rangers’ best looking sharp, the stage seems to be set for them to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994. At the same time, they know how little it would take for everything they’ve built to fall apart.

“This is far from over,” Rangers forward Brad Richards said after Game 4. “I remember sitting in here down 3-1 against Pittsburgh. They will feel bad tonight, but tomorrow they will wake up in front of their home crowd and once that game starts, 3-1, you throw that out the window and it is back in the battle again.

“We have to realize the longer it goes the more life and more belief they get, so it’s going to be a very important start to the next game.”

We’ve seen so many remarkable comebacks already in the 2014 playoffs. Montreal would certainly like to give us another.

  1. joey4id - May 27, 2014 at 8:58 AM

    Return to the SCF they will. I wish for them to lose tonight only to win at MSG and benefit from another gate receipt. Once they face off against the Kings they will experience a rude awakening similar to what Montreal experienced when they faced the Rangers after playing 7 games at a slower pace vs the Bruins. Neither Montreal nor the Rangers will beat the 2012 SCC.

    Joey knows hockey.

    The Habs, after and absolute horrendous performance need to find a way to get their top o players to put the biscuit in the basket. They were absolutely brutal last game.

    • bmy0913 - May 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      Eh, man I usually agree with a lot of what you say. This one, I must respectfully see it from another side.

      2-0 against Chicago in the Regular season, 1-1 against LA. That loss to LA came in the first 9 game road trip they started the season on when they and Lundqvist were just awful. I had even prepared myself for a loooooonnnnnggggg season after that start.

      I know its the playoffs, and of course LA and CHI are both on that next level now too so things change. But NY is playing their best hockey of the year right now, and I think they can compete. Not pointing to the stands calling my shot Babe Ruth style or anything, but I think it will be an exciting cup.

      I look forward to tonight. I think the Habs will be desperate, but think NY closes tonight.

    • billiam55 - May 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      u usually post stupid dumb stuff and here u have but i actually kind of agree that LA is freaking scary and im questioning if my rangers can beat them.

      • arrow43050 - May 27, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        Did you see the defensive lapses that allowed the Kings to score their first 3 goals? Guys were all alone in front and free to deflect, screen and chase rebounds at will. On goals 2 & 3 there was no defenseman between the guy who scored and the goalie. I don’t think the Rangers will have those kinds of lapses. Sure, they may happen in one game, but it won’t be a pattern so the Rangers will be very competitive against whoever they play.

      • cofran2004 - May 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM

        Well come on… its the stanley cup finals. Do you expect the other team to just lay down? Of course they’re going to be tough! But I think Montreal and the Rangers would both play the kings/blackhawks tough.

    • jkay1818 - May 27, 2014 at 11:38 AM

      can you give examples of why the Kings would be too much? If you go by the wins column, the rangers, Kings and Hawks were all one game apart. Since that horrid Road trip and learning the new system to start the yr, many would argue the Rangers have been better than both these past few months.
      The kings have beaten some potent teams on offense, but so have the Rangers in philly and Pitt.
      From a depth perspective and speed, the Rangers are deeper right now than the teams they beat The big difference is, the Kings haven’t faced a goalie of Henrik’s caliber. Also, this would apply even when tortorella was coaching. There is no way in hell the rangers would leave guys open in front of the net in the same fashion as chicago. It’s becoming insane already. the deflections, the open men on the door step, the screens facing crawford.
      First of all the kings and rangers still have work to do, they aren’t even in the finals, but if they do meet, which seems likely. It’s going to be one heck of a series.

  2. DED - May 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    Assuming Stepan is out, who do the Rangers start in his place considering both Miller and Carcillo are definitely out? Fast? Or someone with even less experience like Lindberg or Haggerty?

    • bmy0913 - May 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      I think you’ve gotta go with Jesper on that one, solely for the fact that he’s played on the line before with these guys, and if nothing else can be a stabilizer. I think going with the inexperience makes the fourth line even less effective. At least this way, with Fast, the line has the proven potential to still be at least a threat.

    • 7mantel - May 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM

      Arron Asham wouldn’t be a poor choice ,has playoff experience and will add some grit .

    • bmy0913 - May 27, 2014 at 11:27 AM

      But, I will also say that as a hockey fan, if Steps doesn’t throw a jaw cage on and go at it tonight I will be a little disappointed, maybe even a little surprised. It’s the ECF, one win away from the Cup finals. Broken jaw, been there. It is one of the most miserable things you can possibly endure for so many reason.

      If he’s wired, nutrition and fatigue are an issue. Liquid diets, even from a team doc and nutritionist can still only do so much, so it’s hard to feel 100% in any capacity. But, come on. You’ve got to get back on the ice.

    • arrow43050 - May 27, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      I’d like to see either Darrol Powe or Dylan McIlrath. A seventh defenseman wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world and especially a physical one. If the Rangers want a pure forward then you go with Powe who can play center. They don’t need a scoring center but a depth and defense forward. Without Stepan the Rangers will still have Richards, Brassard and Dominic Moore down the middle along with Brian Boyle. If either Moore or Boyle get called for a penalty that leaves only one center I’d want out there during the PK.

      • jkay1818 - May 27, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        what would be the reason for calling up mcilrath? in limited time he has been out of position, the speed of the game has been too fast for him and he has taken bad penalties. Why would there be a need for a 7th dman? why would you take time away from their 6 to play mcilarth as a 7th.
        Also, they have been going with nash and zucc on the PK if boyle or moore have been in the box and they have been excellent.
        stepan is fully practicing right now, my assumption is he is playing.

    • cofran2004 - May 27, 2014 at 12:27 PM

      not gonna need to worry about stepan being out. he’ll have the full face mask on, and he’ll play.

  3. ajg314 - May 27, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    With the Rangers being such a good road team this year, that has greatly lessened the disadvantage of not having home ice in any of these series. I honestly think the Rangers close it out tonight. Go Rangers!!

  4. rpiotr01 - May 27, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    I don’t know what the final score will be, I just know that the diving, flopping and acting will be absolutely off the charts tonight. They’re like a dog that’s been given lots of treats as a bribe to stop barking. It’s been rewarded, there’s no way to stop it now.

    If you like good hockey, watch whatever’s left of Chicago/LA. If you want to see a desperate team do everything BUT play good hockey in order to win, watch Montreal.

    • cofran2004 - May 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      yeah, i really hope the rangers finish them off tonight so we can actually see them play a team that doesn’t engage in shenanigans to win. i respect the hell out of chicago and LA… but lost a lot of respect for montreal

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