Pivotal Game 5 Awaits Blueshirts At Bell Centre

It’s back to Montreal for Game 5 after evening the series at two-all when the Blueshirts resorted to their early series form with a 2-1 victory at Madison Square Garden in Game 4.

From the opening faceoff when Kevin Hayes battled for possession and subsequently Nick Holden, without hesitation dumped the puck into Montreal’s end forcing the Habs to play on their heels, the Blueshirts were on their way to their most complete game of the series. It was a tense affair and as well as the Rangers played, the competitiveness of this matchup was reiterated, resulting in yet one-goal, one goal game.

These two teams are that close.

[RANGERS PLAYOFF CHANNEL LISTINGS]

Pavel Buchnevich made his way into the lineup for Game 4 in place of Tanner Glass and accorded himself well enough to likely be back in for tonight’s game. There is no question that the roster is more skilled with Buchnevich, and the forward lines had a deeper threat of offense in Game 4 as a result. It is important though, that Pavel plays with the requisite amount of grit and urgency that this time of year requires.

Speaking of grit, in many instances, this series has taken on the feel of a street fight and that really doesn’t come as a big surprise. It is playoff time and to some degree, anything goes. There are times when you may initiate things that will cross the line, and there will be times that you will have to receive what crosses the line. The officials will see what they see and call what they call. It is all part and parcel to what goes on at this time of the NHL year.

3 KEYS TO GAME 5

1. A SAVE

Henrik Lundqvist makes a breakaway save on Andrew Shaw in the first period of Game 4. On the next shift, the Rangers get a fortuitous bounce and Jesper Fast beats Carey Price to give the Blueshirts a 1-0 lead. The importance of a key save cannot be expressed any more clearly than that.

2. DEPTH

As this tightly contested series heads down the final stretch, rolling with 12 forwards and six defensemen while playing with skilled depth will be essential. That was clearly evident in the Game 4 win.

3. NEED A GOAL

Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have all been held without a goal so far. Enough said.

COVERAGE

Game 5 tonight on MSG Network (TV) and ESPN 98.7 FM (Radio). Don LeGreca, Kenny Albert and yours truly will have all the action from the boisterous Bell Center in Montreal tonight.

Pregame at 6:30. Puck drops a little after 7:00.

This should be fun. Check it out.

SIDE NOTE

I’m also a guest on Arda Ocal‘s “The A-Pod” podcast, set to release tomorrow (Friday). Check that out too!