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Rangers Vs. Canadiens: Keep Marching, Boys

Montreal Canadiens v New York Rangers - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
  • There were a few moments Saturday night where the atmosphere gave me the chills. The first was before the game even started, where The Garden was losing its mind as the Rangers came out onto the ice. I’ve often called this my “thank you” moment. Where the fans can reward the team for an effort done on the road. Well the fans did that, then parlayed it into singing the national anthem. It was a really cool moment.
  • The second moment was the play leading up to Derek Stepan’s empty netting clincher. The crowd cheered Stepan clearing the zone and then the noise started rolling over itself, growing louder and louder as people started the realize the puck was going to go into the net. And Oh. My. God. They’re. Going. To. Win. This. Series.
  • It’s such an emotional relief to be in that moment where you’re emotionally drained from the game and so happy to move on to the next round. It’s intoxicating.
  • Give Henrik Lundqvist all the credit in the world for that game. What an effort from him, maybe one of the best. The save at the end of the game with his left pad? Heart attack city. Maybe one of the greatest saves I’ve ever seen. One that leaves you standing with your head on your hands and your eyes wide enough to give you a headache. The glove save on Shea Weber, the constant safety net. The Rangers played a good game but Lundqvist was the difference maker again. A lot of Habs fans were calling him lucky through this series. I think we’ve seen that’s not the case.
  • A big reason why the Rangers were able to get past Montreal in this series was because they elected to use their size to intimidate the Rangers. Once Alain Vigneault moved to an all skill lineup they were able to use their speed to rush at the Canadiens and be relentless. That’s exactly what happened after the first 20 minutes of Game 6.
  • I do think Dan Girardi was as solid as he was because of this, too. He’s going to have an issue with the speed/skill teams, but we’ll burn that bridge when we get to it.
  • Speaking of that first 20 minutes, I’m a little concerned about the way the Rangers came out if we’re being honest. All is well that ends well, of course, but the Rangers aren’t a perfect team, and they need to work those moments out of their system.
  • Mats Zuccarello was an animal in the second half of this series, and his two goals were the result of him just out-working the defense. Mika Zibanejad, who everyone was complaining about the first week of the series, ended up leading the Rangers in points with four. Can’t say he didn’t have some of the biggest moments of the series, either.
  • Rick Nash was the Rangers best forward top to bottom, but I think I sense the Rangers waking up a little. Chris Kreider, specifically.
  • Pavel Buchnevich being inserted back into this lineup has done so many good things for this team. The first is adding a lethal distributor who has created so much of his own offense in this series. The second is another puck-mover on the power play who can make them less predictable. The third is pushing the fourth line of skill together that’s been one of the more dominant forces in this series.
  • Nick Holden had his better game of the series. Still had some mistakes, but he was at least somewhat more reformed.
  • The Brendan Smith - Brady Skjei combination is another one of those big things that helped the Rangers move forward in this series. Smith, specifically, has been one of the biggest surprises. I didn’t imagine he’d make this much of an impact (some of that was my concern about his usage) but he’s been spectacular. And give Skjei a lot of credit, too, the moment isn’t too big for him.
  • The moment isn’t too big for Jimmy Vesey, either. He got better and better as the series went on.
  • Who thought Jesper Fast would be a big offensive producer in this series? Well, aside from Vigneault for three years.
  • Not sure who I’d rather play in the next round. I don’t like playing the “wish for your opponent” game. I have my thoughts, maybe you’ll get them tomorrow.