After defeating the Senators, who reside in Canada’s capital city, the Rangers will be moving on to the second round and will be hosting DC’s team for Game One. As is always the case, the Rangers made it difficult. It took seven games and a one goal margin with Ottawa piling on the scoring chances towards the end of the game. And it was absolute torture to watch. But hey, I’ll take that over what Bruins and Canucks fans watched. Let’s recap the game and what it took for the Rangers to win Game Seven and move on.
Marc Staal and Dan Girardi- Two defensemen who are very unexciting in their playing style. Two defensemen who are very underrated by mainstream media. Two defensemen who played huge roles in getting the win tonight. It doesn’t matter from who the goals come, so long as they do, so Gaborik and Richards’ inability to get on the scoresheet is perfectly okay when two of our defensemen are making delayed entrances into the offensive zone and getting open. And of course, putting the puck into the net. Craig Anderson was absolutely fantastic tonight and the Rangers weren’t going to get goals very easily. Their involvement was crucial.
And that’s just in the offensive zone. There are no words to describe the hard work and smart decisions Staal and Girardi made in the other end. I imagine both players will need ice covering pretty much every area of their body tomorrow morning. Aside from Henrik, there is nothing that gives me more confidence in this team than the defensive corps, and these two have been absolutely fantastic.
Henrik Lundqvist- Roberto Luongo was benched in favor of his backup for the remainder of the Canucks’ series. Henrik Lundqvist put the team on his back in the most important period of the season. Why these two are ever compared to each other is unknown to me. 27 saves is not a large number but the difficulty of those saves was very severe. Perhaps the biggest save of the game was when Richards and Stralman had a miscommunication and Milan Michalek, Ottawa’s leading goalscorer, had a point-blank shot from the slot. Lundqvist came to the top of the crease and made a huge shoulder save. In the last five minutes he made a number of saves as Ottawa kept the puck in the zone for seemingly forever. King Henrik was definitely the best player in this series, as he should be.
Chris Kreider- A month ago Chris Kreider was playing for Boston College. Six games ago Chris Kreider wasn’t even in the lineup. Tonight, Chris Kreider was the best forward on the ice. His defensive work was brilliant and his speed allowed him to get backcheck very well. On the forecheck, Kreider showed his speed AND size as he was the first to the puck behind the net a number of times and Ottawa failed miserably at trying to knock it off of him. His four shots led the team and John Tortorella showed his faith in Kreider by putting him on the ice for the final shift of the game. If Kreider can build off of his last two games of this series the Rangers will have an absolutely dangerous player not just long term, but right now.
Derek Stepan- Coming off of a three point Game Six, Stepan’s pass to Staal was what we’re used to seeing from Stepan. It’s nice to have him not playing like a zombie anymore.
So that’s that. Matt Carkner’s idiocy aside I have a lot of respect for the Senators and how hard they battled in that series. If that was indeed Daniel Alfredsson’s last playoff game I’m happy that it was he who scored for the Senators tonight. Check out Senshot for their final thoughts on what we just witnessed. For us, it’s time to move on to the Capitals.