The light at the end of the first round playoff tunnel got somewhat brighter with the solid win in Game 5 at the Bell in Montreal.
As expected the Rangers took some body blows early in the match at a boisterous Bell Centre falling behind, 2-1. After maybe the most important four minutes of the series, an early second period back-to-back penalty kill, the Blueshirts slowly asserted themselves and by the time of Mika Zibanejad’s OT-winner the offensive depth was clearly the difference. While grit is surely important, the deeper the skill the better chance you have to move on in postseason play.
The Game 5 win on the road by the Rangers brought back some poignant memories of our run in ‘79. An overtime goal by Bob Nystrom at The Garden sent the series back to the Nassau Coliseum tied at 2-all. I can vividly remember that “tension-convention” that was not settled until late in the third period when Anders Hedberg scored and we held on for a one-goal win.
Going back to The Garden I also remember how important we felt wrapping it up in Game 6 at home was going to be. Wrap it up we did by a 2-1 count on goals by Don Murdoch and Ron Greschner. I still smile at the memory of Denis Potvin slumped on the ice along the boards as we celebrated our playoff victory.
One can’t help but be impressed with the first five games of Jimmy Vesey’s playoff career. He came billed as a player who loved to play in big games and he sure has done that. Vesey has been aggressive both with and without the puck and his nose to play without fear in traffic, has been noticeable. There were a ton of teams that sought his services last summer. During the regular season, it was easy to see why. And he has stepped it up in his first NHL postseason.
3 KEYS TO GAME 6
The Rangers had a tremendous start in the last game at The Garden, a 2-1 victory in Game 4. Chipping the puck deep and pursuing it with speed forced Montreal on their heels and made the Habs play a 200-foot game.
There is no reason to think that this game won’t be the tight affair that this series has been. The game will likely be decided later rather than sooner and this savvy Ranger team will need to remember that patience is a virtue.
The play in the defensive zone in the last two games, both victories, has been stellar. Managing the puck, protecting the dangerous scoring areas and defending Henrik Lundqvist will once again play a vital role.
Check it out!