It won’t be on until Monday, but I guarantee that the most popular television show in Rangerville that night will not feature the Blueshirts.
But it sure will affect them — big-time.
All New York hockey eyes will be focused on the Islanders-Capitals game at Verizon Center because the winner will challenge the Rangers’ long-range goal to capture the Stanley Cup.
There’s some work on drawing board to be done in the interim, as well as updates on the medical conditions of Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Klein and others of the skating wounded.
Scanning the horizon toward the second round, coach Alain Vigneault also must look backward and deduce just why a decimated Pittsburgh outfit was able to take a game from New York and lose only by a goal in all of the Rangers’ victories.
The easy guess would be that the Seventh Avenue Skaters took their Steel City opponents for granted and never could get themselves in high gear.
Even in the decisive Game 5 at The Garden on Friday night, the visitors came extraordinarily close to putting AV’s team away in overtime before Carl Hagelin’s wrister wrestled the Penguins out of the series.
Beyond the raucous red-light cheers, there remain causes for concern before the second round begins later this week. For example:
- KILLER INSTINCT: Despite a superior, near-healthy roster, the Blueshirts couldn’t dispose of the heavily hampered-by-injuries Penguins. We’re talking about a club that barely squeezed into the playoffs and with a virtually useless — possibly injured — Evgeni Malkin. That tells me that AV had better find his club’s killer instinct before it costs them more than a game, as it did with Pitt.
- UNDER-ENERGIZED NASH: The jump; the vigor that characterized Rick Nash‘s banner regular season appears to have evaporated; for the first round at least. Hopefully, we’re not viewing another muzzled marauder. In the end, average Rick didn’t do any real harm but this club needs an above-average Nash — or else.
- POWER PLAY: Why isn’t it better? The personnel is all there. I don’t get it.
Then again, neither do they.
Now for the good news; there’s plenty of time for repairs.