Rangers need top forwards to stop being ‘average’ if they want to force Game 7

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The New York Rangers got off to a fantastic start in Game 5 against Ottawa on Saturday afternoon and they came within 1:30 of winning the game in regulation. But that’s not what ended up happening.

They managed to build up a 2-0 lead in the first period thanks to goals a pair of depth players in Jesper Fast and Nick Holden. New York also had a 4-3 lead late in the third period, but they let that slip away too.

The Rangers nearly came away with the victory, while hardly getting any production from top forwards like Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, who combined to score just one assist in the 5-4 OT defeat.

When asked about the performances he got from those four players, head coach Alain Vigneault didn’t exactly mince words.

“For me, the players you mentioned had real strong games at home in [Games] 3 and 4, and for whatever reason — and I don’t want to single out those players, as I said — we had quite a few who had an average game, and it wasn’t an appropriate time,” said Vigneault, per Newsday. “At this time of the year, against a good opponent, you can’t bring an average game to the table.”

This isn’t the first time Vigneault has used the media to call out in his players. During the first-round series against Montreal, he singled out Kreider after a pair of quiet performances in Game 1 and 2 and then did the same thing to a couple of other players a few days later.

The Rangers will have to hope that the extra day off between games will do them some good. Game 6 will be played at MSG on Tuesday night (Watch on NBCSN or on the NBC Sports app). New York hasn’t lost a game on home ice in this series.