NEW YORK, NY - MAY 12: (L-R) Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30, Dan Girardi #5, Ryan McDonagh #27 and Brad Richards #19 of the New York Rangers celebrate after they won 2-1 against the Washington Capitals in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
- The Stanley Cup Playoffs is really just an emotional roller coaster. Think about your emotions from the Brad Richards goal (jubilation), to the Michael Del Zotto goal (delirious jubilation), to the Roman Hamrlik goal (anger, frustration) to the final five minutes of the game (pure panic) and finally to the end (back to delirious jubilation); it's just a whirlwind. The New York Rangers won the biggest game of the year, and it's the second Game 7 they've brought home this postseason. Who wouldn't be going crazy right now?
- Why don't we start with the man of the game, Henrik Lundqvist. He was immense all game. In fact, immense isn't a big enough word to describe how well he played. He made save after save, and each one was better than the last. In a one-goal game (for the most part), his performance was vital to keep the Rangers in the game.
- Once again, give a ton of credit to the Washington Capitals. They grinding all series, and never quit. That's a very good hockey team the Rangers just beat.
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- Let's get back to Richards for a minute, what a playoffs he's had. How many big goals has he scored in this series alone? The game-tying goal in Game 5, the first goal in Game 7, plus opportunity after opportunity created off his brilliant vision and playmaking skills. What a player he has been when the stage has been biggest and the spotlight has been brightest. This is why the Rangers brought him in. This is why the Rangers coveted him.
- Carl Hagelin had a great game too. The setup for the Richards goal was a brilliant show off of his speed and ability. He hasn't found the scoresheet much these past 14 playoff games (well, for him, 11 playoff games), but he's been a big factor in the Rangers' forecheck -- which has been a big factor in the Rangers' success.
- I like Chris Kreider getting more minutes (he played 12:34 in Game 7), and I thought he was effective during the minutes he got. He was shelved a bit during the third period, which makes sense; but I liked his game. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, when he's on the ice good things tend to happen.
- The entire defense played fantastic Saturday night. Ryan McDonagh was fantastic, Dan Girardi was a monster, Marc Staal was a beast all night, Del Zotto was great on both sides of the ice. It's been one of the most consistently strong points of the Rangers' playoffs. And it was on full display during Game 7. What a great job by the entire defensive corps.
- The resiliency of this team is remarkable. It really is. Two Game 7's, a miracle Game 5 that was only possible based on this team's refusal to quit and 14 insane playoff games that have put us through the emotional roller coaster I mentioned above. I've been saying this since the start of the playoffs, you don't win the Stanley Cup you earn it. The Rangers are well on their way to earning this thing. They're winning the big games, stepping up when they need to and continuing to simply get the job done.