The Rangers are pretty good at making us sweat. This club went to seven games twice (Ottawa, Washington) and six games once (Devils) last season. They went to seven games in 2009 (Washington). There was only one series in this time frame that didn’t go to seven games, and that was in 2011 when the Rangers lost to the Caps in five games. If the Rangers are one thing, they sure are consistent.
This series has been on par with the other seven game series the Rangers have played. They appear to have been dominated for most of the games, but have persevered due to their goaltending and defense. They have all been low scoring, although this series has seen a pair of 4-3 blips on the radar. The Rangers may be maddeningly inconsistent on the ice, but they are consistent in their ability to stay in games and make it a series, no matter the makeup of the team.
Heading into tonight, I believe the Rangers have an advantage. The Blueshirts, specifically Henrik Lundqvist, have been very good in back-to-backs. Defense, goaltending, and physical play win seventh games, and those are three areas where the Rangers have advantages (physicality is a slight advantage, especially after Game Six). The Rangers also appeared to finally get under the skin of the Caps, who were clearly frustrated after the loss yesterday.
That said, the Rangers will need to win the special teams battle in order to have a chance to win a Game Seven on the road. They actually lost the special teams war yesterday, but Hank had a stellar game and just would not allow the Caps to score. That was in the friendly confines of MSG. The Verizon Center is a different beast, as noted by the fact that the Rangers have won just once there since 2009.
I guess there is no other way for the Rangers and the Caps to close out a series. Every series these two teams have played have been hard-fought, physical, and relatively low scoring. Special teams will play a factor, but trench battles will also be a factor. If the Rangers control the boards, they will win the game. If they don’t, then they will be on the golf course early this season. Either way, get your life support machines ready.