The New York Rangers are in a familiar place looking across the ice in game seven of a play off series. The confidence that the team exuded after their practice on the 28th is in stark contrast to the gut wrenching nerves harbored by most Rangers fans. Needless to say this is what they’ve been waiting for all year.
After a bounce back performance in Tampa Bay in which the Rangers scored seven goals, five coming in their traditionally defensive third period, the Lightning looked noticeably crestfallen as their opportunity to snuff out the Rangers Stanley Cup hopes in Game 6 diminished. What’s more positive for the Rangers was Game 6 might have been the best hockey they’ve played all playoffs from an offensive standpoint.
The contributions came from the entire roster as seemingly everyone had a hand in the victory. It is that momentum, and confidence that the Rangers will need to build on going into game seven. Statistically the Rangers should feel more than comfortable going into this game as they have won 6 of their last 7 game seven match-ups.
Additionally, the Rangers have won their last 10 playoff eliminations games at home. Marquee goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is no slouch when it comes to Game 7s as he has won each of the last six Game 7s. Lundqvist has posted a 0.81 GAA, a .973 SV% (179 saves on 184 shots), and a shutout in the six games.
Head Coach Alain Vigneault isn’t one to focus on the past, which makes some Rangers fans feel a little more at ease.
In general media outlets will point to the good numbers or past positive outcomes to setup for a story if the team falls short. Vigneault stated that it was his “sole responsibility to make sure the team was ready for Game 7.” This Game 7, not their previous victories. It is appreciated that they will feel confident going into this game, however it must be stated that that confidence should not deteriorate into comfort.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are not a team to be taken lightly, as well they are notorious for knocking down the favorites in a series with emphatic performances. In this series alone they were able to score 12 goals in two games against the Rangers. Alternatively, the Rangers look to be playing their best hockey going into this game, which will hopefully translate, to a very exciting Game 7.
More good news coming from the locker room after Thursday’s practice was that every member of the team was on the same page. The quotes about what the Rangers needed to get done on the 29th could have been pinned to any of the men in the room. The consensus from the players was that they would need to play their game, and stay focused on their current opponent if they are to come out on top.
Their game is stout defense, winning puck battles, using speed and skill to move up ice, and making quick smart decisions with the puck in the neutral zone. Having Henrik in goal will absolutely help. The Rangers will do their best to stay out of the penalty box, while making Tampa Bay pay for their mistakes by capitalizing on the power play opportunities.
Game 7 will be exciting, as Madison Square Garden will once again be electric. The Rangers look to focus on one game, and come out on top. Game time is 8 p.m. ET.