New York Rangers alter strategies for Game 6 to prolong Eastern Final
June 11, 2022
New York Rangers coach Gerard Gallant considered some tactical changes to his strategy for Game 6 against Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers fell behind 3-2 in the best-of-7 series to the Lightning 3-1 in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers were able to enter the Eastern Conference Final with a clear head despite the fact that they were defeated by the Lightning less than 24 hours ago.
"You lose that game last night, you drive home and you want to jump over the bridge. You feel bad about it. It's a tough game that could have went either way. It happens," said Gallant.
"You've got to look at the bright side of it. You've got to get ready for another game. You can't put your head down and worry about last night because then you're done. You get on the plane at 12 o'clock and that was the end of last night."
The Rangers have already earned enough playoff experience to have that sort of viewpoint. Game 6 will be the sixth time they face elimination in the postseason. So far, the team is 5-0, with a 2-0 road record. Their first-round game against the Pittsburgh Penguins concluded in a 3-1 defeat. In the second round, they were likewise ousted 3-2 by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rangers will change tactics for Game 6
The Rangers and Lightning will play Game 6 at Amalie Arena on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. The Lightning will face a difficult opponent in the defending Stanley Cup champions, the New York Rangers.
Since the start of the 2020 playoffs, the Lightning have gone 3-1 when facing elimination in Game 6 of a series. Only twice in their 10 straight series wins have they gone to Game 7.
In the NHL, Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has six shutouts in series-clinching games, letting just one goal in his past three games. In a nutshell, the Lightning possess an entirely different quality than Pittsburgh and Carolina right now.
Despite winning Games 1 and 2 by a combined 9-4, New York lost its last three games by a combined 10-4 score. Since notching eight goals in the first two games, the team netted just one goal at even strength.
For Game 6, Gallant may change his strategy. He altered the lineup in Game 5 for a more speedy forward group, leaving Kevin Rooney and scratching Ryan Reaves despite the return of Ryan Strome. Due to Strome's lower-body injury, Rooney stepped into the lineup for Game 4.
However, the Rangers managed just 25 shots on goal and could not leverage their speed to create chances off the rush, their main strength. That will be a key point in the Game 6 strategy for attacking the Lightning.
"Just be a little bit quicker in everything that we do," said Rangers center Mika Zibanejad. "When they get to get into their structure, they're good. We just have to try to find a way to play a little bit faster, a little bit more north. That's been our game basically all year."
In other words, Zibanejad needs to start dominating the game that he, Chris Kreider, and Frank Vatrano will face throughout. In the past three games, Lightning's second line comprised of Anthony Cirelli, Brandon Hagel, and Alex Killorn has efficiently shut down Zibanejad's line at 5-on-5.