Few Clouds 40° Good Afternoon
Few Clouds 40° Good Afternoon

Rangers need production from top scorers

Derek Stepan celebrates a second period goal by

Derek Stepan celebrates a second period goal by teammate Marc Staal in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. (May 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

In four games against the New Jersey Devils, rookie Chris Kreider has three goals. Ryan Callahan has one. The other top-six forwards, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin? None.

What's a coach to do about that high-ranking lack of production?

"Pray," John Tortorella said Tuesday. "We're going to keep on trying to play, pray and hopefully something good happens to them."

The Rangers coach and his players are putting the onus on themselves rather than waiting for manna from heaven.

Tortorella and his staff didn't offer players any video of sins committed during the 4-1 trouncing by the Devils at The Rock on Monday night that evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece. Game 5 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

After a brisk 25-minute skate, a pleased Tortorella sent his troops off the ice. They included Brandon Dubinsky and Mats Zuccarello, who are closer to recovering from injuries,

The best thing about "a really good day," Tortorella said, was that the Rangers had turned the page. "We've moved by; the meeting was good, the practice had some jump."

And it seemed there was no residue from the fire-and-brimstone incident on the bench between Tortorella and Devils coach Peter DeBoer. Nor the scrap between Stu Bickel and Ryan Carter. Nor Mike Rupp's blast of Peter Harrold behind the net (he was penalized for roughing) and Rupp's subsequent jab into the chest of an unsuspecting Martin Brodeur and the goalie went down as if he was shot.

DeBoer said Tuesday that he "took offense at what happened on the ice, and that was my outlet, right or wrong . . . I don't anticipate any more of that. I think the stakes are too high going forward for any of that stuff to show up. But you never know . . . If you ask me if it would have happened if the score was closer, no, it wouldn't have."

Tortorella did not comment.

As for the fisticuffs, Rupp said, "I felt like it was a situational call [on Harrold] and I just responded to that moment. Rupp confirmed that Brodeur didn't chirp at him before the punch. "In those two seconds, I don't really have time to think about anything, it's a reaction. Sometimes things happen in the moment. That's not the story line in this locker room, it's about winning the best of three series and we have a step in front of us to do that [today]. We're focused on the three-game series and we have two of those games in that. We're confident in that; we faced that in the first two rounds and we're going to go about it the same way."

Although the Rangers have won both Game 7s this post-season, the two Game 5s at home have been dicey. First, a 2-0 loss to Ottawa and then a miracle rally with a Brad Richards power-play goal with 7.6 seconds left and Marc Staal's power-play, overtime winner against Washington.

Several players, including Callahan, said the Rangers had to concentrate on their start at home, to come out blazing when the puck drops against "probably the hardest fore-checking team we've faced in the playoffs."

Henrik Lundqvist, who is keeping the Rangers afloat, can't provide answers for the inconsistent offense. A victory is a victory, no matter the score. "Some nights we're going to win 1-0, 2-1," he said. "We bring the good parts [from Game 4] and all the things we didn't do well, we leave them behind."

If that formula works, the Rangers would guarantee a third Game 7 at home, at the least. Otherwise, Game 6 in New Jersey could be when the season goes down in flames.

New York Sports