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Rangers' McDonagh hopes for lift from home crowd

by Mike G. Morreale /

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said he doesn't have any big pregame speech prepared for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Washington Capitals on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

The Rangers trail the Capitals 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

"It's kind of tough to create words when you're in a situation like we are with one loss ending the season," McDonagh said Thursday. "As far as speaking up and saying things, I feel with the guys in this room there shouldn't be much that needs to be said.

"My job is to be as best prepared that I can be for the game and on the ice because I'm expected to be an impact player and a difference-maker, playing in a lot of situations and different roles, so I need to be as sharp as anyone. I need to continue to make effective plays and give my team and help myself be a part of a win [on Friday]."

McDonagh's neutral-zone turnover 24 seconds into the third period resulted in Andre Burakovsky scoring the winning goal in the Capitals' 2-1 victory in Game 4. McDonagh and his teammates are hoping to rebound in front of their home fans in an attempt to get back into the series. The Rangers are 3-2 at Madison Square Garden in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"This team works really hard and prepares really hard to win every game," McDonagh said. "And when it doesn't happen it's not a good feeling. At the same time, this series isn't over and our season isn't over, so we've got to control what we can. [Wednesday] was definitely tough, but we still have a job to do and an opportunity to play in front of our home fans. So the energy they will provide will be good.

"I think anybody in the building at Verizon Center knows that the energy in the place can keep the guys going and provide confidence throughout the whole game whether a team is up or down on the scoreboard. The crowd drives you to be better and focus on your next shift, so that's got to be an advantage for us [Friday]."

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault would not commit to using in Game 5 the line changes he made in the third period of Game 4. Those included James Sheppard centering J.T. Miller and Tanner Glass, and Dominic Moore between Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes.

"For the most part, our offensive-zone time and puck management was good," Vigneault said. "There is a concern about us getting more pucks to the net, getting shots through, because the Capitals are doing a good job of defending lanes and blocking shots. But I believe we're close. Sooner or later, playing the right way will pay off. I'm in the process of evaluating [the line combinations], and if there are adjustments we'll make them [Friday]."

Vigneault said a bigger concern was how badly the Rangers have failed in the faceoff circle during the past three games. In Games 2, 3 and 4 the Capitals won 109 of 183 faceoffs (59.6 percent), including 38 of 67 (56.7 percent) in Game 4.

"No doubt they've been a lot better than we have [on faceoffs]," Vigneault said. "They've started with the puck almost 60 percent of the time so we're chasing. We're a better team when we have it; there's a lot of 50-50 pucks that we can do a better job of getting to, so that's one area we're talking with our group."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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