Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 4/22/12

This isn't going to be organized in any way, because like many of you, my thoughts after last night's 2-0 shutout loss are scattered all over the place. 

I guess, first and foremost, I should let you all know that Ottawa forward Chris Neil will not receive any supplementary discipline for his high hit to the head of Brian Boyle late in Game 5. After getting home from Madison Square Garden last night, I took a thorough look at a replay of the hit for the very first time, and I'll admit, it looked a lot different there than it did in person. The replay revealed that Neil never left his feet and that the hit was not delivered late per NHL terms. Now he did make contact with the head, but that was because Boyle was looking down after dishing the puck off. 

Look, I'm not going to defend Neil because I know he has a history and he very well could've been head hunting there. I will say, though, that if a Ranger would've applied an identical hit to a Senator, I'd be upset if he received a suspension for it, so that's that. The Rangers will dearly miss Boyle, though, as he's been their best skater for the entire series. Still no word on just how long he will be out. 

With this series coming to the point that it has, Chris Neil and whether he should've been suspended or not cannot be a main point of focus. The Rangers need to keep their focus within their own locker room, because that's the only source they have for motivation to pull out a win in tomorrow's Game 6 at Scotiabank Place. They find themselves behind the eight ball after a disappointing effort last night, plus they are in an away arena, so no one will be lending out a helping hand for the Blueshirts here. They must draw confidence from within themselves in order to keep their season alive. 

And, from an encouragement standpoint, I fully understand why head coach John Tortorella has not ripped his team apart in the media. But to praise them to the degree that he has is somewhat puzzling, at least in my eyes...

“I couldn’t be happier as far as how hard we played. I thought we re-identified ourselves as a team. Obviously both power plays were a wash, but we just couldn’t find a way to score a goal.”

If Tortorella is correct here, then the definition of the New York Rangers is an unmotivated hockey club that struggles to score goals and has a hopeless powerplay. And, according to some, that definition is right on the money.

The way I see it, however, the Rangers have the ability to put together a more complete effort than they have. I am perplexed as to how Tortorella could be satisfied with perimeter shots that barely test the opposing goaltender, because I think we can all agree that the Rangers are a better team at driving the net and getting their hands dirty than what we saw at MSG on Saturday. 

This is where Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan and others must be better. If the top guys (Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards) aren't going to get the job done, then it's going to be up to the grinders to make things happen out there. Far too many times did I see a shot from the boards punched right into the slot by Craig Anderson, only to be cleared by his defensemen before a Ranger could even sniff out the rebound. The Rangers should be all over that, and if they are, there's no doubt in my mind that they will disrupt the Senators defensively. Ottawa's had it too easy to this point. 

Going back to the top guys, as I said in the postgame last night, we can only hope that the return of speedy Carl Hagelin will help to reignite them. Brad Richards has at least had his moments in the last two games, but Marian Gaborik has become irrelevant. The Sens have defended him well, yes, but great players find ways to score despite that. Gabby has not done so since Game 1. 

The hope is that Hagelin's ability to pursue the puck and dish it to his linemates will present Marian with more scoring opportunities than he's had. It's wild that a rookie could have that large of an impact on star players, but that's the case with Hags. There's no denying that the Rangers have missed the Swede during his three-game suspension, so we'll see what his addition to the lineup will do, if anything. 

Now I know a lot of hope has been lost in the Rangers, and for good reason, but the hardest win to obtain for the team leading in the series is the one that eliminates their opponent. The Senators only have two shots to do so, and they know they are going to get New York's best effort of the series tomorrow at Scotiabank. If Ottawa can't get the job done in that one, they then would have to come back to Madison Square Garden, which is a whole different beast in a Game 7 I would imagine. 

So the Senators most definitely are facing some odds of their own in this series. It's not over yet, and if the Rangers win tomorrow, then all hope will reappear and they will have the momentum coming home for the deciding game. 

This isn't over, folks.

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