The New York Rangers will host Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Friday night at Madison Square Garden. Trailing 3 games to 2, the Rangers dominated the Tampa Bay lightning in Game 6, scoring 5 goals in the 3rd period to win 7-3. The Rangers number 1 line of J. T. Miller, Derick Brassard and Rick Nash combined for 5 goals, 8 assists and had a + 13 rating. Henrik Lundqvist let up 3 goals (2 in the 3rd period) but he kept the Rangers in the game early on. “The King” has a 95% save percentage in elimination games and is now 15-3 in those games over the past few years.
Even if you are not a huge hockey fan, Game 7’s in the NHL, are “must watch” television. This series has been one of the craziest Eastern Conference Finals I can remember. Just when you think one side has momentum. they lose. Just when you think a team is done… they win.
The lighting dominated the Rangers in Game 5, 3-0. They had a chance to close out the series, at home and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. They didn’t do that and now they are looking at a monumental task… Defeat the Rangers in Game 7, at Madison Square Garden. . The biggest question mark going into Friday night’s game is Tampa’s young goaltender, Ben Bishop’s mindset. In three out of the last four games. Bishop has let up 5 or more goals. He was pulled midway through the 3rd period of Tuesday Night’s game. If the Rangers score early… Bishop and Tampa could be in trouble.
Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like deja vu all over again.” Haven’t Rangers fan suffered enough? At first it was 15 straight playoff games where the outcome was decided by one goal. Now, they have another Game 7. The Good news for the Rangers is that Rick Nash, who led the team in goals during the regular season (42), is starting to score again. Nash has 14 points during the playoffs. (Which is second on the team behind Brassards 16.)
Before this series started, I predicted the Rangers to win in 6 games. I thought their experience and their goaltending would be the difference. Coming into Game 7, I feel even stronger about their experience and goaltending. The Lightning have 15 players on their roster who are under 28 years old. Madison Square Garden is going to be loud and boisterous. If the Rangers score early, it could be a blow out. The Rangers have never lost a Game 7 playoff game at home. Lundqvist has the NHL Record, for winning 6 straight Game 7’s. I expect the Rangers experience and goal scorers to have a big part in this game. Look for defenseman Keith Yandle and winger Chris Kreider to have a huge impact. Look for struggling, Martin St. Louis, to play less minutes in Game 7. If he is not scoring, there is no reason for him to see ice time on the number 1 power play unit.
The Rangers go to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second year in a row… Winning 3-1.