We're really not supposed to have gotten here. The New York Rangers were supposed to be done. Not only did they overhaul their lineup, scratching $60 million man Brad Richards, they also further depleted their defense with an injury to Anton Stralman. The Rangers had no business winning Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Boston Bruins. Even throughout most of the game on Wednesday night, you got the sense New York was a dead team skating.
Hockey's a strange game, however, and the Rangers started catching breaks. A ghastly turnover by Zdeno Chara led to a goal. An inexplicable fall by Tuukka Rask led to another. Brian Boyle somehow came up big again. Then the game went to overtime. Rick Nash found Chris Kreider on a terrific play to win the game, 4-3, in the extra session.
All of a sudden, they are playing a Game 5 on a Saturday evening. Boston will still likely win this series, but if the Rangers win tonight, it gets a little interesting. You know the media will be all over the Bruins if they do. They're just three years away from having given up a 3-0 lead in a second-round series. Their AHL team gave up a 3-0 lead in a series this year. It'll be unfair, but the Bruins' lives will get so much more difficult if they lose Game 5. If they win Game 5, however, it's over. They get a few days off before starting a series with Pittsburgh. Two paths, both very interesting.
Will Tuukka Rask avoid making another huge mistake?
You never know either way, but the fact is that the Bruins aren't still playing hockey -- and the Rangers aren't still playing hockey -- if this doesn't happen.
Just an all-out bizarre play all around. Again, not to make too much of it, but that's an inexcusable goal in retrospect, and one that extended this series. It's also the type of play that can absolutely change a series, just in terms of momentum and breaks. Will Rask or the Bruins let that play get in their heads, or is it just a hiccup? Rask has been great for much of this series and you have to think he'll return to that status in Game 5.
Can the Rangers' power play continue it's momentum and have some afternoon delight?
Well, technically, early evening delight since this game is being played at a bizarre time for television reasons. After dropping Brad Richards and becoming the only thing anyone wanted to talk about in this series, the Rangers scored a power play goal in Game 4. Brian Boyle's game-tying goal in the third period came at the most important of times. Not to suggest it's a fixer, but if the Rangers can get another one tonight, it might go a long way to springing a comeback.
Will the Rangers defense come up big again, or end up wearing dead man's pants?
The Rangers defense, despite missing Anton Stralman, played pretty well in Game 4. Dan Girardi was back to his normal self, Michael Del Zotto stepped up and Ryan McDonagh was good as usual. The Rangers won a game despite having Roman Hamrlik play defense. I'm not even sure Roman Hamrlik knew he was still on the team. New York needs another good game out of this unit on Saturday, or the series is over.
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Network, TSN