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Rangers Vs. Lightning: Keep Breathing, Boys

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Notes from the Rangers Game 6 win over the Lightning.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

- On a very personal level, one of the coolest things about the playoffs is the moment right before the game starts, when the camera pans onto the New York Rangers logo on the locker room door, and they wait for Henrik Lundqvist to lead the team out onto the ice. To me that moment (where the crowd goes nuts as Lundqvist appears) is almost like a thank you. Game 7 against the Capitals? After winning two in a row to force the decisive game? That's an awesome moment, even though it lasts for about a minute. It gets me going every single time. Friday's ovation will be special, too, and it's very cool to have sometime like that to look forward to.

- And in truth, Lundqvist deserves about as much of a standing ovation as you can give him. More than you can give him, in fact. Because that final scoreline might look like a Rangers blowout, but the Rangers got their asses handed to them the first 40 minutes, and Lundqvist is the only reason blood is still running through their veins. That save on Steven Stamkos at 1-0? Stupid. He was in God mode all night. It's amazing.

- Give the Rangers credit, though, they came out in the third with a fire under their ass. The offense exploded and, well, some players deserve their own paragraphs.

- Goal aside, Rick Nash was a monster all night. Gets an assist on Derick Brassard's first goal. He doesn't get an assist on the Keith Yandle goal, but he caused the turnover and helped Dan Boyle keep the puck in the zone for the goal. Makes a perfect pass to J.T. Miller in space on Brassard's second goal -- AFTER hounding the defenseman into the zone and forcing the turnover -- and scored a power play goal to provide more breathing room.

- Speaking of, Brassard scores a hat trick and adds two assists. Five points in a critical Game 6 to stay alive. That's some game from a player who seems to step up the bigger the moment, just wow.

- And, of course, Miller. Remember when this kid couldn't crack the lineup for Tanner Glass earlier in the year? This is why I'm so happy the Rangers never traded him at the deadline. The pass on the first Brassard goal was spectacular considering he was hounded by two players and never panicked. His goal in the third (enormous, by the way) was the result of just going to the front of the net and finishing off the garbage. His fake shot turned into a perfect pass to Brassard? Most kids don't have those kinds of stones. Some game from him. Four points. No more fourth line for him.

- Final note on Miller: One of his calling cards when the Rangers drafted him was how polished he was as a prospect and how calm he was as a player. Do you remember a few years ago when Miller was a rookie and he took a final shootout attempt against the Hurricanes in the regular season? As he broke in and fanned on his shot the puck rolled off his stick and he needed to retrieve it and he still managed to stay calm and score from a horrible angle? Someone (I think it was a NYR brass member) joked that Miller's heart rate probably didn't change when the puck rolled off his stick. You can't teach composure. You need it in the playoffs.

- Yandle (11 points) and Boyle (10 points) are second and third in the playoffs for scoring by a defenseman. Not sure what more people expected from that duo. Yandle has easily been one of the Rangers better defenseman in this series.

- I'm actually glad the Lightning potted a few in the third to keep things interesting. Just a gentle reminder that Game 7 isn't going to be a cakewalk and this Tampa team can be lethal. The Rangers should be confident but not really comfortable.

- And they need to tighten up a little. The Ryan Callahan breakaway goal in the first? That's a joke. How many times are the Rangers going to stand up at the blue line and just allow a guy behind them? It's like the fifth time that's happened in this series. Figure that out. Now.

- Speaking of figuring it out, major props to the officials who somehow missed Stamkos smoke Ryan McDonagh from behind into the boards but catch Chris Kreider's cross check for the penalty that lead to the Callahan goal. And while that's a dumb, emotional play from Kreider, you take those lumps because he's easily been one of the Rangers best players in the playoffs this year. He's a lot like Brassard, his game grows with the game.

- Breath. Breath again. One more time. We live to Friday.

5 to go