The New York Rangers are down to their last life. The Eastern Conference's best team in the regular season is staring first-round elimination in the face. Monday night (7 p.m. EST, NBCSN/MSG), the eighth-seeded Ottawa Senators could knock them out in Game 6, meaning the East's No. 1 seed and the Western Conference's best, Vancouver Canucks, could both be hitting the golf courses.
New York has dropped its last two games, the first in overtime and the latest 2-0. There is no bigger problem than goal scoring, as the squad has put up three goals in the last three games. Forty-one shots on goal didn't even do the job Saturday, a game the Rangers played very well in, but often didn't make Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson's job very difficult with traffic in front or high-end, close-range chances.
To make matters worse, Brian Boyle, who scored three goals and been the team's best forward on both ends of the ice, was concussed by a Chris Neil hit, is likely out indefinitely. The playoffs are proving that even the best regular-season teams are not guaranteed anything, as unfair as it may seem.
But ... this is a team that went 51-24-7 in the regular season for a reason. It has dealt with adversity throughout the whole season, and has proven through a large sample of games that it has to takes to put together at least a two-game winning streak. Even more encouraging is that Carl Hagelin, after a three-game suspension, will return, re-energizing the forward core. Plus, coach John Tortorella has also alluded to giving Boston College star/Rangers rookie more playing time. That bodes well for the offense -- no matter how inexperienced Kreider is -- because his (untapped at the NHL level) ability is real. And the Rangers need scoring.
If they can play the way they did in Game 5 (the last goal was an empty-netter), make Anderson's job a little tougher and get a little lucky along the way, the Blueshirts could live to see another day.