Thoughts following a wild Game 7May 14, 2014, by
Since there’s absolutely no chance of me putting together a coherent post in the wake of that Game 7, I’m going to share some thoughts in bullet point form instead:
– Henrik Lundqvist really struggled at the start of the season, but he was Vezina-caliber in the second half and raised his game again in the postseason. The bozos that have argued that Lundqvist isn’t elite because he hasn’t won a Cup can say whatever they want – Lundqvist’s performance last night speaks for itself. That was as outstanding a game as you’ll see from a netminder.
– It’s really hard to tell just how good this team is. Obviously we know they won’t ever make anything easy on themselves, but it’s also miraculous that they’ve reached the Eastern Conference Finals despite getting next to nothing offensively from two of their top offensive players – Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. New York’s depth players have been underappreciated for a long while, but they’ve really stepped up through the first two rounds. If the team had gotten even a little bit of production from Nash and Stepan, they probably wouldn’t have had to go to seven games in one or both of their first two matchups.
– The team’s top forwards deserve plenty of criticism for their lack of offense, but to a man, they’ve been tremendous in their own end. The Rangers need more from their key guys offensively, but they do deserve credit for contributing elsewhere.
– Lundqvist came up huge time and time again, but Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman did an absolutely amazing job of completely shutting down Sidney Crosby, and containing the monster that was Evgeni Malkin. The defensemen certainly had help from their teammates, but they each consistently won one-on-one battles with two of the best three or four players in the entire world.
– Plenty of fans still don’t like Brian Boyle, which I’ll never understand. Dave defended Boyle yesterday, but Boyle deserves another mention for his effort in this series. Boyle is one of those guys that play at a higher level each postseason, and he was a beast again last night.
– The passing of Martin St. Louis’ mother was a horrible tragedy, but there’s zero doubt the team used it as a rallying point. The Blueshirts banded together and played stronger as a team than they have at any point this year.
– Chris Kreider’s return was also absolutely huge for the Rangers. Kreider delivered a key goal and used his speed and physicality to really tilt the ice. His insertion into the lineup also enabled Alain Vigneault to trust and balance all four lines, which had been a major issue for the first round and four games of the clash with the Penguins.
– With the win, New York’s 2014 first-round pick goes to Tampa Bay. Oh well.
– It’ll be very nice for the club to get a couple extra days of rest before the Eastern Conference Finals. I honestly don’t know who I’d rather play. Obviously the Bruins are always really tough to play against, but Montreal’s speed scares me. The Canadiens have a weird feeling to me this year, and I don’t want any part of them. But Boston has all that experience…
I leave you with this:
"Thoughts following a wild Game 7",