When there are seven games allotted to decide a playoff series, momentum often swings many different ways over the course of time. Between games, between periods, between goals and between shifts - it's always changing. This is where the heart of the battle in the postseason lies, and this quarterfinal series between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators has seen much of it. For this reason, with four games in the books, the two teams find themselves in a 2-2 tie despite the match-up being a 1 versus 8 seed. Beginning tomorrow at Madison Square Garden, it shifts gears and now becomes a best of three.
Each team in the series, to this point, has won one game on home ice and one game on the road. The Rangers obviously took Games 1 and 3 while the Senators took Games 2 and 4, both of which were decided in overtime. The series as a whole, just as head coach John Tortorella predicted it would, has been decided by the action and reaction of momentum. See, momentum is not always a factor for the team that has it, but for the team that doesn't have it. The way in which the squad responds to momentum, whether it is in their possession or the opponent's, is critical.
You can argue that through the first four games, the Senators have been the better team when it comes to dealing with momentum swings. The Rangers definitely had the edge in this category in the opening tilt of this series, which they won, but since then have struggled, even in their 2-1 win in Game 3. As stated yesterday, they are giving the Sens too much credit and therefore playing not to lose rather than to win. This has opened the door of opportunity for Ottawa to grab momentum at any given time in a game, and to their credit they have done so successfully.
However, with the series being a toss-up at the moment, it's time for the Blueshirts to gain that momentum back. This is where home ice advantage really comes in handy, because if a Game 7 is necessary in addition to 5 and 6 that we already know will be played, the Rangers will have the benefit of the home crowd on their side. It's a best of three now, so the Rangers do not want to be down a game at any given time. It is beyond important for them to come out and feed off of the fan energy on Saturday and take that game by a decisive margin.
As I said yesterday, the Senators are good, but not as good as the Rangers are giving them credit for. The Rangers are not playing hockey even close to the level they are capable of playing, and they are just embarrassing themselves by doing that. If they struggle this much with the Senators, mark my words, they are done if they make it to the next round and have to play the New Jersey Devils.
Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan all need to be better and help this team swing the momentum of the series in their direction. In some way or another, all five of these players have disappointed at some point in this series, and yes, I am aware that the captain is on the list. Everyone's held accountable in the playoffs and Cally has not given an effort like he has in Game 1 since last Saturday.
"I'm not, at Game 4, about to start naming names. We've had some people, secondary players, play some good minutes. But I'm not going to start naming names. We win and lose as a team here. We just don't get it done in overtime. I thought we played a pretty good game, so we'll just get ready for another one." - John Tortorella
"We win and lose as a team."
Well it's about time that team grabs hold of this series and sends the Senators home in six games.