The New York Rangers will be in a familiar position on Tuesday night. This is the second consecutive round that the Rangers will have fallen down 2-0 in a postseason series. For the second straight round, they are returning home to Madison Square Garden to face this deficit. Of course, the very fact that they are in the second round tells you the obvious: that doing so in the last round led to the start of their comeback. They will try to win four out of five for the second straight series starting on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins.
They will try to do that just two days after playing their worst game of the postseason. The offense was limp, their defense -- even top dogs Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh -- was tissue paper, and Henrik Lundqvist surrendered five goals. You play another game like that, and you're basically dead in the water. The Rangers, their coaches, players and fans all know this.
Should the Rangers play an improved game on Tuesday night and win Game 3, then you start to build a little doubt. Remember, this is a Boston team that almost gave away a 3-1 series lead just a week ago. This is a Rangers team that fully came back from a 2-0 deficit just a week ago. The Rangers win tonight, and it is a series. They lose, and it becomes a laugher.
Will Boston's young defense continue to step up?
Torey Krug is an undrafted, 22-year-old defenseman out of Michigan State. After playing three career games in the NHL, he was called up from AHL Providence to replace the broken three (Wade Redden, Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference) of the Bruins' defense. He has two goals and an assist in the first two games of this series. While 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton got beat by Ryan Callahan on the Rangers' first goal of Game 2, he has also not killed Boston in this series. Matt Bartkowski has also contributed. Redden may return to the lineup tonight (he is a game-time decision), but Dennis Seidenberg will likely not play, so all three of these young men will remain in. Do they, or at least Krug, keep their momentum going?
How will Henrik Lundqvist rebound?
Henrik Lundqvist had not surrendered five goals in a hockey game since 2011 before Sunday afternoon's barrage of Boston goals. It's very unlikely that this is going to happen again, two games in a row. The question remains, however, will Henrik Lundqvist bring his best game to steal the series back for the Rangers? It really is imperative that he be a brick wall again if they're going to win the series.
Where will the Rangers offense come from?
As much as the onus might be on Lundqvist, the Rangers have put up four goals or more three times in this postseason. It's not as if they're a team incapable of putting the puck in the net when everything gets moving. Will they respond with a little more offense at Madison Square Garden? Or has the well on all of John Tortorella's offensive options finally run dry?
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
National TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN