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Playoffs 2013Rangers trying to stay in the moment

Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 | 07:44 PM

Categories: Hockey Night in Canada, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Playoffs 2013, WAS vs NYR

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New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, bottom, skates past his team bench after giving up the game-winning goal against the Washington Capitals in overtime of Game 5 on Friday. (Richard Clement/Reuters) New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, bottom, skates past his team bench after giving up the game-winning goal against the Washington Capitals in overtime of Game 5 on Friday. (Richard Clement/Reuters)

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The Rangers, down 3-2 to the Caps, can either embrace Game 6 Sunday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET) -- a fairly obvious message they got from Rangers coach John Tortorella Saturday -- or they can poke their own eyes out with knitting needles.
By Jay Greenberg, special to CBC Sports

NEW YORK - Like they say on death row, you have to stay in the moment. Henrik Lundqvist says his goal for Game 6 is to have fun.

"Try just to enjoy it," said the Rangers' goalie. "I'm definitely not thinking it could be over, that doesn't help you."

So, after speaking with Lundqvist following practice Saturday, the media dutifully went to Brad Richards, who has been demoted from the first line and is one loss away from the perfect end to a perfectly miserable season.

"Having any fun yet?" Richards basically was asked.

"Yeah, definitely have to figure out a way to do that," said Richards.  Asked how at this stage, he thought for a second.

"I don't really want to get into that right now," he finally said.

The Rangers, down 3-2 to the Caps, can either embrace Game 6 Sunday afternoon (4:30 p.m. ET) -- a fairly obvious message they got from Rangers coach John Tortorella Saturday -- or they can poke their own eyes out with knitting needles. 

"As always, this team will be ready to play, that never is a worry," said Tortorella at yet another of his laugh-a-thon press conferences.

Indeed, having won a stay-alive Game 6 in Ottawa last spring on the way to making it to the Eastern Conference final, there is little question the Rangers will show up, this time with the support of the same home crowd that got them back into a series they once trailed 2-0.

Still, things don't look so good this time around. The Rangers did not have the puck much in the Washington zone through the second and third periods of the 2-1 overtime loss.  And the reward for a Game 6 win would be another survival game in Washington, where some of these players are 1-10 in the playoffs since winning the first two games of a 2009 series.

Rangers' power play laughable

Fun? Well, if it can be any inspiration to the Rangers, people are laughing at their two-for-21 power play. And of course, You Tube regulars usually get a giggle out of Tortorella's press conferences.

Asked Saturday why he is keeping Richards on the power play, the coach said. "I think he has made some plays there.  We need more."

Asked next about what opponents are doing against the goalless Rick Nash, Tortorella said. "I see where the questions are going, but I'm not going to be talking about guys who are fighting it.

"I'm not getting into a public conversation about it. It doesn't do anybody any good."

"Fair questions," somebody said.

"Fair questions I'm not going to answer," said the coach.  "That's fair, too."

Fair to say that as some Caps, Mike Ribeiro principally, raised their level while other key Rangers sagged in Game 5, it became not a fair fight. Ryane Clowe's physicality and playoff scoring track record had seemed like a big Game 4 addition for the Rangers until suddenly, it wasn't, thanks to a Jason Chimera first period hit. Clowe's return does not seem imminent, making an issue again of Chris Kreider, a first-round pick who, despite five playoff goals last spring has not dressed since Game 1.

Asked whether he would select the closest double to Clowe or the best player, Tortorella said, "the best player."

Now, to find that guy.

"It got to be a pretty short bench as far as people staying involved," said the coach, asked where the forecheck went after the first period. "I'd like to use more people tomorrow but I also have to make those decisions along the way as far as who is producing both offensively and defensively.

"We lost a little momentum and I don't think we ever got it back after they scored on the power play. So it is a matter of getting in behind them, making them play 200 feet. I think more people need to be involved in that."

Survival skills

No question, the Rangers were all-in during their two 4-3 wins at Madison Square Garden. The crowd and some dumb Washington penalties made hockey a lot more fun for the Blueshirts and their survival skills kicked in, just like at Ottawa a year ago.

"Yeah that was fun," said Michael De Zotto, staying on point, making Tortorella proud.  "You feel so alive."

Certainly beats the alternative.

Loose pucks

Adam Oates on his team's troublesome bad starts the last three games, only one of which they have overcome. "We talk about the little decisions that shoot ourselves in the foot, whether it could be a bad pass where a guy's open and we don't hit it and we ice it," said the Caps coach.  "We've done that way too much."

The coach did not offer an update on winger Martin Erat, who hasn't played since the first period of Game 3, when he apparently injured his wrist. And it didn't sound like forward Brooks Laich, who has resumed skating after undergoing a procedure to fix a groin muscle problem, would be called upon just yet.

"He wants to, but winning [Friday night] bought us a day," said Oates.

Notes

Matt Hendricks took a puck in the mouth at practice, but returned . . . Marc Staal (blurred vision) skated at the Rangers practice, but he did not make himself available to the media to update his status.

Follow Jay Greenberg on Twitter @ScribeJG

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