2012 NHL Playoffs: Rangers Vs. Capitals - The Fear Of Game 7

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Henrik Lundqvist #30 and Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers talk after a play against the Washington Capitals in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

One of the managers in my office is a huge New York Rangers fan. So naturally we became friends, and have been spending the better part of our mornings discussing the team. Thursday our discussion hinged around the looming Game 7, and it lead to this exchange:

Dean: Well, now it's down to just one game.

Me: I know, they don't ever make things easy. I still think they're going to win Game 7.

Dean: Me too, but it's going to be a one- or two-goal game. We both know it's not going to be a blowout. Game 7 is always scary, it's such a fluky game, just one bounce can change a season.

Me: You know what? If you had the choice between playing the Vancouver Canucks -- or another great team -- in a seven-game series for the Stanley Cup or the Columbus Blue Jackets in a one-game, winner-takes-all, which would you chose?

Dean (thinking): I don't know. Vancouver is obviously the much better team but ... well, it's one game, man. Anything can happen in one game.

Right there, embedded in our morning conversation, is the fear of a Game 7. It's one game. The entire season hinges on one game. And in a sport in which games are sometimes determined by flukey bounces or luck, literally anything can happen in a Game 7.

Join me after the jump for more.

It's fitting that the term is "forced a Game 7," mainly because no team actually wants to play in one. Oh, sure, the Washington Capitals wanted to play in one in the second round, just as badly as the Rangers wanted to play theirs in the first. But that's because in both cases each team had their backs to the wall and needed a Game 7 to survive.

No team, in their right mind, would put an entire season on the line in a one-game series willingly. You only do it when you have to, like the Rangers and Capitals do on Saturday.

Would you stake your life that the Rangers would win a one-game series against the Blue Jackets? You would be insane, even though the Rangers are the vastly superior team. The game of hockey is just too unpredictable.

Now, the Rangers and Capitals matchup on Saturday might be a one-game series, but it comes after six hard fought games in which neither team has been able to take a decisive series lead. This means that both squads have had six games to make adjustments and preparations, something a one-game series doesn't have.

Still, the point is the same. One bounce, one change in momentum, one flukey play can decide this entire series. Think about it. It's one of the main reasons why the NHL has the best playoffs of any sport. There's simply nothing like it.

The other reason it's scary? Every single Game 7 ends a team's season. Every one of them. No matter what happens Saturday, one of the two teams will see their season come crashing to the ground.

Let's just hope it's not the Rangers.

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