Who wins Game 5 of Rangers-Lightning? X factors, goalie confidence and a prediction


The New York Rangers return to Madison Sq. Backyard for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Thursday following two straight wins by the Tampa Bay Lightning within the Sunshine State that evened the collection at 2-2.

“We’re certainly one of three groups left right here. You count on their greatest. You need their greatest. And we need to present we are able to beat the very best,” Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba stated. “We really feel we’re an up-and-coming staff. We have arrived. We need to play these video games.”

What is the better pressure: The Rangers’ residence successful streak, which stands at eight playoff video games, or the Lightning’s momentum within the collection?

Here is our breakdown of Recreation 5:

Key non-goalie for every staff

Rangers: Adam Fox. The Rangers defenseman had his most pedestrian efficiency of the playoffs in Recreation 4. He was a minus-3 on the scoresheet and did not register a shot try in 23:44 of ice time. To place that in perspective: This was the one postseason recreation through which Fox did not register a shot, and simply the third recreation through which he did not tally a degree — the opposite two approaching the highway towards the Carolina Hurricanes.

The excellent news is that the Rangers’ sensible younger blueliner has feasted on residence cooking, main them with 13 factors in 9 residence video games. They’re going to want extra from their again finish offensively if their ahead group is impacted by accidents, and Fox can present that. Clearly, a little bit extra power-play time would assist: Whereas the Rangers went 1-for-2 in Recreation 4, that they had just one:15 with the person benefit, when Fox is so efficient as a quarterback.

Lightning: Nikita Kucherov. As captain Steven Stamkos informed me, the Lightning know when Kucherov is on and it units the tone for them when he’s. The previous Hart Trophy winner has turn into the collection’ most impactful participant. He was on the ice for eight of the Lightning’s final 9 objectives, incomes a degree on six of them. The objectives he has scored have been big, sparking Tampa Bay’s rally from being down 0-2 in Recreation 3 and including a vital second purpose in Recreation 4 on a breakaway. His move to Ondrej Palat to arrange the Recreation 3 winner may very well be the turning level within the collection.

Kucherov is taking this factor over, and the Rangers need to discover a strategy to sluggish his roll.

Goalie confidence ranking

Rangers: 8. This collection is now 2-2 regardless of the very best efforts of Igor Shesterkin. Like the remainder of the Rangers, Recreation 4 was not his best of the playoffs, nevertheless it adopted a ridiculous 49-save Recreation 3 efficiency. He has been on the constructive facet of objectives saved above anticipated in each recreation since Recreation 6 of the collection towards the Pittsburgh Penguins, and stays the spine of this playoff run.

However once more: He has performed a whole lot of hockey on this postseason, with two seven-game collection, a recreation through which he confronted 83 pictures and a current one through which he confronted 52. Hopefully his Recreation 4 efficiency is not the primary inkling that the grind is catching up with him. The very best information: He is on an eight-game successful streak with a .948 save share total at MSG. Oh, and with two assists, after all.

Lightning: 8. The Huge Cat had his worst recreation of the playoffs in Recreation 1 of this collection, and was within the unfavorable on objectives saved above anticipated in Recreation 2. Coach Jon Cooper’s concept is that Vasilevskiy was impacted greater than the Lightning skaters by their nine-day layoff after sweeping the Florida Panthers. There could also be one thing to that, primarily based on how he performed at residence. Cooper stated Vasilevskiy “bought his mojo again” since, and it is exhausting to not disagree.

That stated, the Rangers are a unique offensive staff at residence: They common 4.22 objectives per recreation at MSG vs. 2.44 objectives per recreation on the highway. Recreation 5 would be the “mojo check” for Vasy.

Path to victory

Rangers: The trail begins with good damage information on Ryan Strome and particularly Filip Chytil, the engine for the staff’s Child Line. Strome skated in warm-ups earlier than Recreation 4 however could not go. Chytil was injured on a Victor Hedman examine throughout Recreation 4; like Strome, he is a game-time determination for Recreation 5. Each play very important roles within the center for a staff that has generated one even-strength purpose because the first interval of Recreation 2. If both or each cannot go, it means lineup scrambling for Gerard Gallant.

That established, the following step on that path for the Rangers is to play like they have been enjoying on residence ice: possessing the puck, coming at opponents in waves, incomes time for his or her potent energy play. And maybe most significantly, enjoying with the swagger that has enabled them to win each residence recreation since shedding in triple-OT to the Penguins.

“Better of three. Received two at residence. Misplaced two on the highway final time. That is how a collection is meant to be in concept, proper? Supposed have the ability to maintain serve,” ahead Chris Kreider stated.

Lightning: There was a whole lot of speak across the Lightning a few “change being flipped” halfway by Recreation 2 at MSG. That is after they simplified their recreation and performed with offensive flourish solely after they’d earned the zone time to take action, slightly than the opposite method round. The outcomes are clear: They went from 28 giveaways in Recreation 1 to 22 giveaways in Recreation 2 to 13 giveaways mixed in Video games 3 and 4.

They should proceed to restrict the Rangers’ counterpunching rush possibilities, restrict their power-play time and hopefully get Anthony Cirelli‘s newly fashioned checking line with Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn out towards the Mika Zibanejad line — whereas watching Kucherov and Stamkos work their magic offensively.

Last rating prediction: Rangers 3-2

The Rangers are the Harvey Dent of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs — regularly grotesque on the highway, Gotham’s white knight at residence. I’ve seen them pull this act for 2 rounds and eight straight residence victories.

The accidents are a priority. The fatigue is not — if the Rangers get to play their recreation. After all, it will appear like they’re skating in quicksand in the event that they’re trailing after two minutes and having to defend greater than they assault. I do know the narrative is that the Lightning have recalibrated, shaken off the rust and brought management of the collection. I’ve seen the Rangers rewrite too many narratives on this playoff run to imagine they will not do it once more.

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