Yes, there is something left in the Rangers‘ tank — and it’s not just the return of Dan Carcillo.
With Game 4 on tap tonight and the threat of a four-game sweep staring them in the face, the Blueshirts are not yet doomed against the Kings.
Not by a long shot or a snapshot. And, yes, there are reasons for hope. Consider the following:
LUCK: Let’s face it, Lady Luck plays a major part in any playoff game. Jeff Carter’s goal with a second left in the first period might have been an afterthought had it gone in a second after the buzzer. Rangers are due for some good bounces.
CARCILLO: IN 1942, fourth-stringer Don Metz galvanized the Toronto Maple Leafs to four straight wins after being down by three to Detroit. Perhaps Carcillo can be the latter-day Metz, igniting the Rangers’ machine.
LUNDQVIST: The King has made a number of extraordinary saves, but he hasn’t won a game and Jonathan Quick has three in his dossier. If ever a goalie should be motivated to win the game of his life, Henrik is the man.
“When I go out,” Lundqvist explains, “I don’t think about the end result. I need to think about the process; stopping the next shot. I believe we can turn this around because we’ve been that close in every game.”
Despite his club’s 0-3 deficit, Alain Vigneault continues to accentuate the positive while eliminating the negative.
“There are 29 other teams that would like to be in our spot,” AV insists. “We’re going to show up.”
Apart from the possible addition of Carcillo, Vigneault could add another one or two forwards to generate offense.
J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast are two youngsters who have suited up for the Blueshirts in these playoffs and can provide an offensive spark that Derek Dorsett hasn’t supplied.
However, their re-insertion isn’t likely ahead of the irritant and hopeful catalyst of Carcillo because the fourth line of Brian Boyle,Dom Moore and Dorsett/Carcillo has already bonded as a puck-possessing unit.
Fresh off his six-game suspension, Carcillo could be the remedy to the Rangers’ current no-luck bout.
Then, there’s the matter of the powerless power play. The insertion of Rick Nash on the starting PP unit should be the highest priority.
Trouble is Nash’s shots haven’t registered. And the same goes — or went as the case happened to be on Monday night — with the rest of the howitzers.
For all the talk of lucky bounces and bad breaks, Nash’s misfortune in the second period Monday was that Drew Doughty knows how to finesse, how to defend and, in this case, how to take a smart penalty.
With Quick out of position — an anomaly on this night — the net was open for Nash to complete his swooping wraparound, but Doughty — channeling his self-motivational anger — delivered a crafty hook from behind 61 in blue, committing a penalty but saving a goal.
The Rangers outshot the Kings by more than double, but their 0-for-6 effort on the power play vindicated Lady Luck of any culpability.
“To score a power play goal is a huge deal,” Nash allows. “Special teams are the difference in this league and we’ve got to make sure we keep goals out of our net and put them in when we’re on the power play.”
Even with four forwards on the ice, the Rangers’ man-advantage failed to make it an advantage Monday night. They have to shake things up on Wednesday.
Anton Stralman, who has been resolute in his controlling of the puck in this series, is another who deserves to take a shot or two from the point in place of the struggling Richards.
Oh, yeah, one other thing from Vigneault — a priority of utmost importance if the series moves on to Game 5 on the other Coast.
“We just need bounces,” the coach correctly concludes.
MAVEN CUP FACT FOR WEDNESDAY
During the 1927-28 season — when the Rangers won their first Stanley Cup — one of the most popular publications in the country was called “The Joe Miller Joke Book.”
As it happened, during the 1928 playoffs Rangers first-string goalie Lorne Chabot was seriously injured and replaced for one night by his boss Lester Patrick. Miraculously, the Blueshirts beat the favored Montreal Maroons in that game.
Now the New Yorkers needed someone to replace Patrick and the boss picked a goalie named Joe Miller. Everyone in hockey thought it was a joke, but Miller played the goal of his life leading the Rangers to the 1928 Stanley Cup.
And that’s no joke!