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Handy Dandy Playoff Notebook: Game 7

  • After 5 years away from the playoffs, I will admit in hindsight it was foolish to predict that this series would be settled in anything less than 7 games. Yes, we all admittedly had some overconfidence in the New York Rangers given the success they had vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins in the regular season, and the majority of fans expected this series to go 5 or 6 games.
  • New York showed a lot of heart in Game 5, and did enough to fight to live another day. They did it again in Game 6 on the road while dealing with a raucous crowd, and the result of those two events earned the Rangers the right to host another home game.
  • Tonight will be one of the most exciting events in all of sports, and that is a winner-take-all Game 7, and for the Rangers they have a chance to redeem themselves for good.
  • Game 5 was the Kid Line game. Game 6 was the Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, and Adam Fox game. Game 7 represents another opportunity for individuals to step up, and it presents an opportunity for it to be the Artemiy Panarin or Igor Shesterkin game.
  • It doesn’t matter which individual, or individuals for that matter, step up... but to advance to the second round of the playoffs the Rangers will need to play their best game of the series. Countless NHL players, coaches, and other assorted figures have told stories over the year of how hard it can be to win the fourth game of a series.
  • The Penguins had an opportunity to close things out two games in a row, and ultimately were unsuccessful. Both teams have that opportunity tonight, and you have to expect each team is going give it their all to move on and continue the journey to try and earn 12 more wins required to capture the Stanley Cup.
  • This organization has seen firsthand both potential outcomes of a Game 7, and this current group of players has already gone through a lot in these playoffs. They’ve ridden a rollercoaster of emotions whether it be coming from behind, surrendering leads, the triple overtime game that was Game 1, and the serendipity that was the game-winning goal of Game 6.
  • The Rangers need to come out with intensity, and be firing on all cylinders. They need to make the most of their home-ice advantage and control things at 5v5. They played just well enough, again, to win Game 6, but need to take it to another level in Game 7.
  • That said, the Rangers fought back hard from a 3-1 hole and didn’t just rollover and give up. There’s reasons to be confident in this team, but the Rangers don’t want to put themselves in the position of having to comeback from another multi-goal deficit.
  • Independent of who is or isn’t going to be back in the Penguins lineup for Game 7, there’s no good reason for the Rangers to lose tonight. Even if you look at their three wins of the series, and all of the good moments they’ve had to this point, I think you’d all agree that they’ve not yet had a signature win in which they decisively take care of business.
  • Maybe they are saving that for tonight. Who is to say what will happen. What we can say is that tonight is another golden opportunity for this group, and another chance to gain experience. When the Rangers put out the letter and made the moves that they did, the front office likely envisioned moments like this being possible.
  • The ultimate goal for the Rangers is winning another Stanley Cup. The expectation wasn’t for them to win this season in particular, but to win in the next couple of years. But the Rangers are in a position to move on to the second round, and if they do so they’ll face the Carolina Hurricanes.
  • I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but I feel like that is a matchup that’s destined to happen at some point, specifically because of how things went in the bubble back in 2020. That could be this year, it could be next year, or it could be never. Sports are weird like that.
  • With that said, Game 7 is tonight, and it’s going to be something. I don’t know what that something is, but I know that it is one of the best things in sports, and anytime your team gets to participate that it is a privilege to experience something that you’ll never forget. Win or lose, the Rangers will learn a lot tonight, but we all agree that winning is much cooler, and nobody is ready for the season to end yet.
  • Rangers in 7.