And we're back. That suddenly familiar realization that by 10:30 p.m. tonight the New York Rangers' season could be over. Or the Rangers could be moving onto the second round to face the Washington Capitals.
The Rangers won a pivotal Game 6 to even get the series to this point, and now have an opportunity to end the Ottawa Senators' season at Madison Square Garden.
It won't be easy. Very few games this series have been (only Game 1 comes to mind). But it doesn't matter. There are no style points in hockey. A win tonight erases all the Rangers' mistakes from this first round series and gives them a clean slate in the second round.
We talked about the Rangers needing to go back to the basics to win before Game 6. They did that Monday night. Now we need to see more of the same tonight.
Join me after the jump for more.
This is what hockey is about. It's these gut-wrenching moments before a Game 7, the nervous energy during the game, the wealth of emotions you'll have once it's over (whether the Rangers win or lose). It's hockey. It's the Stanley Cup. You have to go through these moments to earn it.
The Rangers showed a significant amount of resiliency to get through Game 6. Players like Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Brad Richards stepped up when the team needed it the most. Leadership comes in all different shapes and sizes.
On Monday it came in the form of a rookie with four games worth of experience and a sophomore who was pointless in his first five playoff games.
It was fitting.
This is a Rangers team that hasn't had one hero -- well, aside from Henrik Lundqvist. Rather, it's been a plethora of players who have been the hero. Look at how many players have worn the Broadway Hat. It's been Ryan Callahan one game, Marian Gaborik another; guys like Brian Boyle, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Del Zotto, Carl Hagelin, Artem Anisimov and so many others.
It's the Rangers' greatest strength in a game like this. You simply don't know who is going to step up. Chances are someone will though. It's what's gotten them this far.
Now they just need to go a little farther.