For the second time this post-season, the Rangers rose to the occasion and won a decisive Game 7. Brad Richards wasted little time in the first period, netting the game’s first goal at the 1:14 mark. For the next forty minutes, the two teams failed to register a goal before Michael Del Zotto gave the Blue Shirts a 2-0 lead. The Caps wasted little time, scoring their own goal two minutes later. However, the Ranger defense and Henrik Lundqvist really locked down on the Caps, as they held onto a 2-1 Game 7 victory.
To put it in perspective, the Capitals only managed four shots in the third period. Compared to Ottawa’s 15 shots in their last Game 7, the Rangers third period defense was stellar and they are moving on to face the NJ Devils in the NJ Transit Series.
As a regular commuter on the NJ Transit train lines, I’m not happy at all about this pairing. These two teams are separated by a mere 13 minute train ride from MSG to The Rock in Newark. Fans from both sides will be giving me a headache all week long. However, I expect well-played hockey, so I’ll deal with it.
On the surface, both teams have yet to face a top goaltender this post-season. You could make the argument that Capitals goalie, Brandon Holtby has had his coming out party, but realistically, neither team has faced a proven, veteran goal tender…until now. Marty Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist are still two of league’s very best. This series will likely come down to goal tending and defensive play. Luckily for the Rangers, their back line has been pretty good and will likely slow down the attack of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Remember, there is a lot of bad blood between these teams so expect a lot of rough play and fights.
As for the Western Conference, I really don’t know too much about the skill position players. However, I do know that Kings’ goalie, Jon Quick, and Coyote goalie, Mike Smith have been dominant this post-season. As the #8 seed in the West, the Kings have won 8 of 9 post-season games rather easily against the conference’s top two teams. ESPN’s Barry Melrose is picking the Kings in six and Rangers in six, so that’s good enough for me.
As a whole, the NHL would like a Rangers-Kings Stanley Cup Final. The two largest markets in the country squaring off for the Cup. The Rangers are starved for the Cup while the Kings have never won it. The Kings made it in 1992-93 when they had The Great One, but fell to the Canadiens.
Playoff hockey will be really exciting in the NY Metro area for the next two, three weeks. Buckle up, it’ll be a bumpy ride.