Yesterday Alexander Ovechkin sent out a message to Washington Capitals fans: "This series isn't over, were still in this thing." Or something to that effect; let's be honest his hockey skill is incredible but his English is as sturdy as Rick Dipietro's left hip.
Yes, the Rangers have a stranglehold on this series, being up 3-1 they only need to win once in their next three. And even though tonight's game is in Washington the Rangers are walking and talking with a swagger that they haven't had since their 10-2-1 start to the season. And hey, why shouldn't they have that swagger, they have most certainly earned it. Plus confidence is a huge plus when it comes to the playoffs. Well let me rephrase that: some confidence is a huge plus when it comes to the playoffs. There is a very fine line between cocky and self confidence; and as of right now the Rangers have been on the right side of that line. But this is the NHL playoffs and crazier things have happened than a 7th seed blowing a 3-1 series lead.
Now I'm not saying the Blueshirts are going to blow this. What I am saying is that the Rangers cannot forget the little things they have been doing that got them to where they are right now. They have to keep shooting the puck, they have to stay out of the box, they have to play great defensively, and Lundqvist ... well he just needs to dress.
The Rangers need to win this series, and they need to do it sooner rather than later. The Rangers have their foot on the Capitals throat and they need to crush it. The Capitals can't get any more desperate but they can gain more confidence. There is nothing more dangerous than a team with nothing to lose. And let's be honest the Capitals have a lot of fuel for a fire, they just need a spark. Ovechkin nearly did it himself last night after his goal, one of the prettiest goals I have ever seen, early in the third period. The Rangers cannot give the Capitals any spark, that's not a fire I want to light.
If this team can win against the Capitals they will send a message to their fans and the rest of the NHL. That message will be simple: We can do this, we can do this, we can do this. There is no price on confidence, so long as it's on the right side of that line I talked about before. And if the Rangers are as prepared for these playoffs as they are showing us all, if the leadership they paid so much for does what it is supposed to; these Rangers just might find themselves on the right side of that line. And there is no price on the right kind of confidence.
As I've stated before, beating the Washington Capitals means nothing if the Rangers don't get to the third round. At the beginning of the season I expected the Rangers to go deep into the playoffs, and I still do. They are no longer a team with a 200 million dollar payroll. They are no longer the Blue$hirts. Those who put on the jersey care about the sport and the team of which they are representing, well most of them do. But they are a team chock full of highly paid, playoff savvy, veterans who should be able to steer this ship through the very choppy waters of the playoffs.
For all you new readers of Blueshirt Banter, make sure you stop in tonight for our Open Game Thread. Every game we do a live game thread in which you can go into it and discuss the game as it is going on. No need to refresh the page, it happens automatically. So come and join in, we usually have a great crowd and the atmosphere is amazing. It is like you're there! Well not really but its close. But come on down and enjoy it because it really is a lot of fun.