The Rangers showed up; they actually fought back and made Game 7 an event where at the end you didn't wish for the time you spent watching it back. Without sounding like an over-dramatic mother, I am actually proud of this team. I had people telling me for the past two days that they were done, there was no way it would even be a game. I bit my tongue and knew that although they may be right, my view was possible. And it came true, for the most part.
The Rangers accomplished what they had done in their three wins which led them to stay in the game. They survived the first ten minutes of the game along with leaving the first period with an even score. The Blueshirts outskated and outplayed the Capitals for most of the first period, outshooting them 8-2 and scoring about six minutes into the game. The Ranger goal was a result of hard work and crashing the net, something that was sorely missing most of the second half. King Henrik then got beat on a fluke shot (What else is new, right?) that went off both Ranger defensemen in front. As much as it seems unfair, that is what happens in playoff hockey, along with the fact that good things happen when you get pucks to the net.
Between the first and the second period, the Capitals must have passed around the sniffing salt, because the Capital team that we witnessed in Games 5 and 6 awoke. The Rangers did well to stick with them, but the Capitals gained key ground in the second that led to their eventual third period domination. The Blueshirts were outshot 13-1 in the third period, and deservedly so. They could not control the puck whatsoever, and no one seemed to want to pay the price by getting pucks and bodies in front of the net. In the end, that does not win you playoff games in the National Hockey League. I was hoping for overtime, because I thought the Rangers would have had a better chance. But one mental lapse by Wade Redden to not step up on Sergei Fedorov led to a screened shot that King Henrik really had no chance at. Fedorov made a nice attempt, do not get me wrong, but at the same time Redden should have stepped up well before his own hash-marks.
But like I said, in the end I am proud of this team just because of their performance last night. I believed in this team, and I am glad they returned the favor for 55 minutes. Trust me, I am just as disappointed and frustrated with this result and team overall as other Ranger fans are, but at the same time we cannot do anything about the past. This season has taught us a lot about the core of our roster, and if you're a believer in the two step forwards one step back theory, then this season was our one step back. I think we have found a coach for the future, (at least two or three seasons) who will change the overall defensive mindset of this team, and turn it into a different team come autumn 2009.
With all that said, I would like to thank you, the readers. I had a blast covering the playoffs since I was brought aboard here at Blueshirt Banter, and I really look forward to analyzing the Rangers over the offseason and into the 2009-2010 season (especially that potent Power-Play). Stick around over the summer as we try to solve the Rangers problems, because September 2009 will be here before we know it.