Despite being in a two game hole; despite only scoring 2
goals in 3 games in Washington; despite coming off of an emotional shut out a
day prior; and despite being an underdog, the New York Rangers showed in a big
way in Game 7.
By now you already know that the Rangers took Game 7 from
the Caps by dominating them in a 5-0 shut out. Following up the 1-0 shutout
from the night before, a lot of fans could see the this was the Lundqvist whom
we proudly call “King”. Last night could have been a disaster with the way the
series seemed to be shaping up. But Lundqvist put the team on his back and kept
the Capitals at bay.
This article is simple; there is just one thing the Rangers
need to change in order to advance to the next round: their number one guys
need to start acting like number one guys. Look, the NHL playoffs are notorious
for making heroes out of 2nd and 3rd (hell, after Asham’s
play, I’ll even say 4th) line players. The number one line will
always be matched with the opposition’s number one defenders staring them in
the face. The Capitals’ stars are just as guilty. McDonagh’s performance in
this series was Leetch-esque. But Nash and Richards held without a goal in 7
games is inexcusable. Callahan having one goal in 7 games (and it was a goal to
give the Rangers a 4-0 lead) is inexcusable. Thankfully Stepan and Hagelin had
2 goals or else I would hold them just as accountable for this series going to
7 games and forcing Lundqvist and the blue line to stand up in a big way.
Richards was acquired for the sole purpose of bringing his
play making ability with him into the post season. Last year he went on an OK
playoff run. We all just remember the Game 5 goal with seconds to go that
forced the overtime. So he gets a pass. But he was invisible this series. Nash
was acquired for the sole purpose of bringing his offensive ability with him
into the post season. What crushed the Rangers last year was that they had two
seven game series back to back. The only games they won against the Devils were
shutouts. They needed someone to score that goal that would put them over the
top. Nash has not been that guy. Like at all. He did not even have a shot on
goal last night. Del Zotto scored while Nash missed the net. He has to get his
head in the game and step up in a big, big way.
If the Rangers play the same game, this series will be a
good one for the good guys. Not that it will be a cake walk, but the Rangers
have the tools to win this series. But again, the top guys need to be top guys.
Brassarrd can only play over his head like this for so long. Asham cannot be
the go to guy to win a game. This team is too talented to let the big ticket
players not be big point getters. Lundqvist plays well in Boston. The defense
just shut down one of the best players in the world. And they scored five goals
to win a series on the road. This team is starting to look a lot like last
So brace yourselves Ranger fans, the Bruins are coming.
*Photo credit goes to
more by Dan French, be sure to visit www.liftthepuck.com