For the first time in NHL history a team has come back to win a playoff series after being down three games to one. That team is the New York Rangers. Mounting a comeback not only in the series but also in game seven was no easy task, yet the Rangers managed to maintain their focus and their drive to get the job done.
Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Capitals saw somewhat of a different style of play from both teams in the early going. The ice was much more open then fans had been used to seeing during the early games of the gritty series. As expect both goaltenders played out of their minds.
Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist went save for epic save proving to be the best players for their respective teams. The beauty of the goaltending from a New York Rangers standpoint was that when faced with the challenge of competing against stout top tier opposition Henrik Lundqvist did not balk, but in fact out performed his rival.
The New York Rangers earned this series win and in may ways deserved it having played extremely hard, while simultaneously getting the short end of missed calls by the referee. Ranger fans could be rich if they earned a dollar for every missed elbow to the head, or every dirty hit. In the end The Rangers kept their eyes on the prize and did not deviate from their game.
Much like the round one series against the Pittsburg Penguins The Rangers were forced to play a different style of hockey, and were able to keep their composure enough to come out on top. Of the twelve games played so far this playoff every single game has been decided by one goal, many of them by a score of two to one.
It could be suggested that the scoring, or offense for the Rangers may have been lacking, but one must look to the defensive play to truly grasp the full picture. Although their offense hasn’t had a high-octane output, their opponents have not necessarily been lighting up the scoreboard either. Come play off time a team’s success is based on stifling their opponent’s positive attributes.
The Rangers were absolutely successful in that aspect. New York managed to keep the Washington Capitals captain Alexander Ovechkin off the score sheet in games 3, 4, and 5. Henrik Lundqvist posted a 1.57 Goals Against Average, with a save percentage of .946 in the series. With this win Henrik became the third goaltender in NHL history to win 6 game sevens in his career.
The Rangers also did very well suppressing the Capitals power play by which had carried them in their previous series against the islanders. Offensive contributions once again were a reflection of the depth of this team. As the capitals managed to score first in the game, the tying goal came from a New York Rangers power play. Rookie Kevin Hayes tipped in a goal off a feed of JT Miller, which caused Madison Square Garden to erupt in collective madness, and elation.
As time wore on tension once again culminated as regulation time began to dwindle away. The pressure and anticipation of the next goal because increasingly weighted as regulation ended and sudden death over time began. That’s when Lundqvist truly shined demonstrating why he is considered one of the best in the world.
The Capitals applied serious pressure keeping Rangers lines out on the ice much longer then they wanted to be, and ripping chances toward the net. Eventually however the play evened out as the words of Rangers Coach Alain Vigneault “send pucks on net” seemed to come to fruition for the home side.
With about 8 minutes left in the first overtime Ranger defenseman Dan Girardi fired a puck low towards the right pad of Holtby that generated a rebound to which forward Derek Stepan collected the puck and composed a wrist shot towards the yawning goal that the Caps goaltender could not recover in time to defend. That was all she wrote.
The Rangers enter the Eastern Conference Final for the third time in four years to meet Steven Stampkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers were swept by the lightning during the regular season, however it must be noted that those meetings took place before the Rangers went on their run towards the President’s Trophy.
Expect the New York Rangers to truly come into their game when meeting the Lightning, as these two fast teams will make for an exciting conference final. Game one starts Saturday May 16th at 1pm.