It all comes down to a Game 7 for the Rangers … again. As they get set to square off against the Penguins tonight in what should be an epic series finale in Pittsburgh, amNewYork examines some reasons why the Rangers should be optimistic about winning and advancing to the Eastern Conference final.
The King wants his Cup
Netminder Henrik Lundqvist has been sensational lately for the Rangers, and it seems as if the only players who can score on him are his own defensemen, as has happened more than once in this series. Over the past two games, Lundqvist has allowed only two goals while making 69 saves.
This isn’t the same Lundqvist that we saw let in soft goals in the Blueshirts’ first-round showdown with the Flyers. He’s locked in and looks unbeatable. King Henrik also is 4-1 with a 1.00 GAA and .963 SV% in five career Game 7s. Playoff hockey usually comes down to who wants it more, and nobody seems to want to win right now more than Lundqvist.
Home ice disadvantage
Those who thought the Penguins could take solace in the fact that they are returning home for Game 7 are sorely mistaken — the Penguins are just 2-6 when hosting a Game 7. They’re also 1-7 in series-clinching games at home under head coach Dan Bylsma.
On the flip side, the Rangers are 9-2 in their past 11 games when facing elimination and have won seven of their last eight Game 7s. Including this one, five of their last seven playoff series have gone to Game 7, and they have won the previous four.
Nobody expected Rick Nash to go 13 playoff games without a goal, but it hasn’t slowed the Rangers down one bit. They have had key contributions from their third line — Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot — who have combined for 10 goals and 23 points this postseason.
Chris Kreider, who returned in Game 4 after missing the first 10 playoff games due to injury, has looked explosive and adds another wave of talent to the usual suspects.