Not many expected the Rangers to be in the situation they are currently in, which is in a Game 7 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals match up against the eighth and lowest seeded playoff contenders: the Ottawa Senators. But that is exactly where they find themselves. One team will be going home tonight. And if it’s the Rangers, the season will be a disappointment.
Heading into this year’s first round playoff match ups, every fan base had their opinions of who they’d like their team to go up against. Much of their opinions were based on regular season play and historical success. In the case of the Rangers, many fans were wary of facing a Senators team that dominated the Rangers during the regular season.
Through four games during the season, the Senators owned the majority of play simply by dazzling with their speed and finesse. The Rangers, one of the most consistently sound defensive teams in the league, had oodles of trouble handling that speed. As a result, the Senators took the season series 3-1.
But heading in to the playoffs, it’s a known fact that the regular season means absolutely nothing. Ultimately, it’s a whole new season.
Through six games, play has been relatively even. Other than the Senators holding a slight edge with their puck possession, both teams have really fought tooth and nail – almost literally.
The series has seen everything from superb goaltending; to heavy hitting; to mouths yapping; to cheap shots; to game misconducts and suspensions. We’ve developed a mini-rivalry here, folks.
There were minimal expectations heading in to this series as it pertained to excitement and national viewership. This was made apparent when a majority of the games in this series were televised nationally on CNBC rather than on NBC Sports. You can’t really blame the NHL, though. After all, we got to see a great Philadelphia Flyers – Pittsburgh Penguins series in which the Flyers took out this year’s cup favorite.
But now, the focus is on the Rangers and the Senators.
Historically speaking, the Rangers are 3-5 all-time in Game 7s, but are 3-0 in the deciding game at Madison Square Garden– which is where the game will be taking place tonight. The Senators, on the other hand, are 0-4 all-time in Game 7s. And the last time the Rangers won a deciding Game 7 was in 1994, when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks to take home the Stanley Cup.
Tonight, that history means nothing; much like it hasn’t all series.
There is no doubt MSG will be rocking tonight. In order for the Rangers to be successful from the get-go, they need to feed off the energy of the crowd and not let Ottawa take the fans out of it. Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin added jump to the team in Game Six and were a big reason the Rangers came out on top. Add in a defensively sound performance and contributions from role players as well as a focused Henrik Lundqvist for tonight’s tilt, and the Rangers have a shot at winning this one.
Rest assured, though, it will be entertaining. After all, hockey playoff games are arguably the most exciting games in any sport.
Game 7; do or die; just win.
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