Before this series started, my prediction was, should the Caps decide to play the Rangers style of game the Rangers would take it in a close 7 game series. True to form, it was back and forth, 1 goal type games, that the Rangers were able to pull out. Granted, tonight probably should have been a 3-1 win with the Rangers inexplicably having a goal called off, but nonetheless, the Rangers are moving on to play the Devils. Wow. What a difference a few days make aye?
You have to give a TON of credit to John Tortorella. Let’s face it. This is a team that has overachieved by epic proportions all season long, and here they find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals, 4 wins away from a Stanley Cup appearance. Home ice in this one big time as they will likely have more fans in NJ than the Devils do, and a raucous Madison Square Garden. Should be awesome.
Getting back to the game at hand though, a few things stood out to me tonight. First and foremost, the top line continued it’s strong play, as the Hagelin-Richards-Gabby trio once again combined for a huge goal, and they generated chances all night. Both Gabby and Hagelin got assists on Del Zottos goal, and both Del Zotto and Hagelin got assists on Richards goal. Big time play by our top line…now if only we could get our other lines going.
Henrik Lundqvist, the first star of the game, and probably the MVP of the series (either Henrik or Richards…tough to single one out over the other) was once again brilliant in a do or die game. They had a stat earlier that when the Rangers have faced elimination (3 times so far) Henrik Lundqvists numbers are 3-0, an incredible 1.33 GAA and .948 save percentage. Holy Crap.
It should also be noted that Marc Staal….is back. Not sorta back. He’s 100% back. He played a dominating series in this one. He blew right past Girardi and McDonagh on our depth chart and reclaimed his spot as the Rangers top defenseman. Isn’t it an awesome problem to have when you have to argue with Ranger fans over which of your young stud defenseman is really the best, a 27 year old Girardi, a 25 year old Staal, or a 22 year old McDonagh…not to mention the game winner scored by a 21 year old Michael Del Zotto who has played like a top pair defenseman all season long. Man, what a defense that is.
This team has shown a hell of a lot of guts. Two of the three worst possible matchups for us in the first 2 rounds, and we picked up 2 gutsy wins. Another hard fought series awaits them. Preview coming sometime tomorrow. Night all!