Coming back to play in front of their home crowd at Madison Square Garden for a pivotal Game 5 on Wednesday, the Rangers are hell-bent on a hot start. Dominated by the Devils' tenacious pressure early in all four games this series, they know they can't afford to be reeling at first intermission yet again.
"It's our focus right now," said center Brian Boyle. "That's what's ahead of us and that's what's most important."
For all the credit given to the Devils' aggressive forecheck and puck pursuit, Boyle thinks the Rangers can prove themselves capable of carrying the play as well. Uncomfortable with being characterized as the passive of the two clubs, the Rangers sound ready to augment their attack.
"We feel that when we're successful, we're a high-pressure team, too." Boyle said. "We forecheck and even when we're defending, it's time and space. That's what we need to focus on, getting back to how we need to play."
Even coach John Tortorella, who scoffed at a question earlier this season about the importance of the first 10 minutes of the game, conceded that the team's lack-luster starts needed to be addressed.
His club found itself down two goals less than 12 minutes into play in Game 4 and struggled to match the Devils throughout the duration.
"There's no question that Jersey, right on through the playoffs, not just our series but right on through the playoffs, they have blitzed teams and gained momentum," he said. "Momentum is a big part of playoff hockey, so there's no question we'd like to get that on our side right away tonight."
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Although Tortorella declined to discuss any potential lineup changes, forward Brandon Dubinsky (right foot) may be available to play for the first time since sustaining the injury in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
After serving a one-game suspension for his elbow on Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov, Rangers bruiser Brandon Prust will return to the lineup tonight.