Here we have the bipolar series of the postseason. It swings back and forth it seems with the vigor of those swings on a psychologist's desk.
So far in the series, every time the Rangers win one, they lose one. Obviously the same goes for the Devils. In fact, the Rangers have been doing this all postseason. They took the same pattern to beat the Capitals in Round 2, winning Games 1, 3, 5 and 7. It almost held in the first round as well when they won Games 1, 3, 6 and 7.
The point? Momentum between games is a myth. There is very little to take from one game to the next. Maybe a player takes confidence, but as far a team continuing something they were doing well at in one particular game, it isn't likely to translate.
By that logic, you have to assume Game 5 on Wednesday night in Manhattan is the Rangers' to lose. But it isn't not safe to assume much of anything anymore, especially at this time of the year.
It's particularly hard to assume anything when the Rangers are still trying to find some offense. Coach John Tortorella has turned to prayer hoping to find a solution from his forwards.
Now there are other, more pragmatic solutions to the offense search, ones which I am sure Torts is working on with his Rangers, and something captain Ryan Callahan -- perhaps the face of the struggling offense -- is thinking about.
"I think it begins with everything right from our defensive zone, trying to limit their time there and closing guys out to getting pucks in away from Marty and trying to get a forecheck, hold onto some pucks and get some shots," Callahan said Tuesday. "It's all of our game that needs to -- I think, to raise a level, it will create offense."
The Devils, on the other hand, would love to carry some things over. They found the offense again in Game 4, perhaps it was the shaking of the lines. Maybe it was just a matter of being able to get shots by the defenders. Either way what they did in Game 4 worked well enough, they might be wise to try it again in Game 5.
Something they'd probably like to avoid? All of those shenanigans on Monday night. That's something that Devils captain Zach Parise thinks will be an issue again, at least when the game starts.
"I think a lot had to do with the scenario, you know, you won't see anything like that in the first period," Parise said. "A lot of it is dictated by the score and how the game develops and unravels."
Like almost any hockey game, a good indicator of how the game will unravel is who scores the first goal. It seems particularly important to the Rangers who don't always seem to have the juice to come from behind but are certainly effective when they get the lead. The Blueshirts don't want to have to try and push the offense, it's not what they do best and where they are their most successful. So maybe they'll start the game with some jump, pushing up the ice in the opening minutes to try and get themselves in a position where they can play the way they like, blocking shots and defending the cage like a castle.
The problem with that is that they aren't blocking shots as effectively against the Devils as they did the Caps and Sens. Whether that be from illegal picks or not, New Jersey is doing a good job of minimalizing one of the Rangers' key weapons.
But you can analyze this every which way until Sunday, I just can't get over the superstitious/stupid side of the analysis. I am not seeing this series end before seven games. Of course it could, it just doesn't seem bound to happen.
- Or you could go this analytical route ... the Rangers have a lot of heart! Here I was thinking they have 20 hearts just like the Devils ... (New York Post)
- Sheldon Souray found a rebirth in Dallas this season and he wants to remain with the Stars. (Stars team site)
- Claude Giroux is enjoying his offseason by playing beer pong ... even in two casts. Will this cause an unnecessary stink? (Crossing Broad)
- From our friends at Eye on Basketball, this is the time lapse of Staples Center this past weekend. Whoa.