Rangers Look To Keep Home Game 7 Streak Alive & Punch Their Ticket To Cup Final

RangersBehind two vintage Lundqvist periods & an offensive explosion in the 3rd, the Rangers decisively staved off elimination yet again. So here we are again in a Game 7 most predicted at the start of the series between teams that were pretty evenly matched. History says that bodes well for the Blueshirts. We’ve heard all about how they’ve never dropped a home Game 7 in their franchise history. How Hank’s 6-0 since 2012 in this spot without allowing more than a goal in each. A majority of their core has been along for the ride with Lundqvist & there’s something to be said about experience.
Meanwhile, the up-and-coming Lightning seem like a team out of their depth. Coach Cooper’s defensiveness with the media shows he’s shook. Saying things like “this isn’t just another game” or “yeah the Rangers are good but they haven’t seen us in a Game 7 yet” come off as forced arrogance & might be putting even more pressure on his squad. The spotlight is gonna be brightest on Ben Bishop who’s been beaten for 5 in 3 of his last 4, couldn’t even finish Game 6 and now has to out-duel #30 on the other side who’s the best Game 7 goalie in NHL history. The Triplets have faded over the last 3 games with just a pair of meaningless 3rd period goals on Tuesday. The Blueshirts even kept Stamkos off the board for the first time since the series opener & Hedman was chasing his tail a lot. There’s plenty of Bolts who have to do a 180 if they plan to win the East.
The Rangers will need a better effort as well, especially offensively. That sounds strange coming off a 7-spot, but their scoring was very top-heavy. Brass/Nash/Miller were outstanding – 5G/8A/+13/18SOG. The rest of their forwards only mustered 7 shots and 5 were from the 4th line. Hags, Hayes, Kreider & Marty had none. Nash has had a couple monster games recently & will be relied on for another, but in a situation like this the Blueshirts need all hands on deck. Stepan has been missing from the scoresheet in their two recent outbursts. NY needs the guy with half his team’s Game 7 goals this postseason – including the one that got them here – to at least set one up tonight. From a motivation perspective, it wouldn’t hurt if Kreider was the guy to stuff a feed from Step home. When this kid scores, he’s usually one of their best players all night long. All but one of his 7 goals have either knotted the game or given the Rangers a lead. This pair has been clutch & will need to produce if there’s gonna be June hockey at MSG.
They haven’t played their best in front of their home fans but they’ve proven to be masters of the nail-biters when all the chips are on the table. Tampa Bay is a great squad and should be for years to come – there’s no reason to expect this W to come any easier than the rest of NY’s Game 7’s. Despite their inexperience, there’s a ton of talent that a guy like Ryan Callahan will have absolutely fired up in the locker room to make history. Against another team, it’d be hard to pick against them. The Rangers have been built for this exact moment though. A 2012 loss in the ECF & last year’s loss to the Kings serve as lessons learned. Jon Cooper said about his Lightning “…our group is…I don’t know. I like our vibe.” Well, AV knows exactly what he’s got in his group. It’s that quiet confidence that’ll have the Blueshirts waiting for the West while the Bolts wait for camp.