So we go from one nation’s capital to the other. (See previous post for the whole Conference Semifinals schedule—and p.s. to NBC, it’s not the Stanley Cup semifinals, OK?).
1) That was one great Game 7. Seriously, I thought ya boys played a great game, as I expected them to do, but throughout this series I became more impressed with Ottawa … even if Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza have a little bit of bow-wow in them at times. I was shocked at the way Ottawa competed after the Senators wilted with Paul MacLean’s pansy lineup in Game 1. But they’ve got some grind in their game, and Erik Karlsson, my God, is amazing. Did you see him chase down Carl Hagelin.
2) Sorry, got off topic there. Back to it being a great Game 7. It was one of those games where, as John Tortorella said in the presser, so many little plays were so important in the game. A Ryan McDonagh steal and clear. Dan Girardi blocking that rebound shot early. Chris Kreider’s speed creating the turnover on the 1-0 goal. Brandon Dubinsky’s corner work creating the transition on the 2-0 goal. So many hits to make plays, blocks, stolen pucks, pressure on the Ottawa D … and the Sens made a lot of little plays too. The Rangers made a few more. Great game.
3) Dan (Blockness Monster) Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McMonster=Three-headed beast.
4) How about your goaltender? The best player was the best player. Remarkable third period. Loved the stuff he said about his nervousness and excitement during the third, and losing focus momentarily to allow himself to think about how important it would be to win this game. He’s so honest. Yet so cool in big spots. And good for him to start shedding this ridiculous notion that he’s not a playoff performer. This is the first time he’s ever had a team capable of winning in the playoffs.
6) Tortorella talked about licking his chops at having speedsters like Chris Kreider and Carl Hagelin for years to come. Imagine if the Rangers really get two top-line type of wingers out of those two. Imagine how much they will be able to pressure the opponent. What Kreider’s done here is really eye-popping.
7) Did I mention how well Girardi, Staal and McDonagh played? Oh, well, it’s worth repeating. And the other three D-men, too. I thought Anton Stralman had a very good series, and Michael Del Zotto went right at Chris Neil again. If he hadn’t broken his stick on Neil’s back (not that there’s anything wrong with that) he probably wouldn’t have gotten that penalty and maybe Lundqvist wins 2-0 and you don’t empty your antacid bottle in the third period. But he was strong and fearless.
8) How about Stu Bickel, in his limited time, hitting a post and twice chasing Chris Neil around inviting him to dance. Neil declined both times. And though I think Neil took some cheap liberties in this series, I’d still want him on my team. And I’d take Nick Foligno, too.
9) Gotta admit it, the building was pretty loud (very loud, actually) and sustained for most of the game. The nightly playing of that embarrassing R-A-N-G-E-R-S song kind of lulled the crowd into a sleep, sucked the life out of them, for a while, though. The place almost shook at the start, and I think it did shake at the end.
10) Sometimes I forget to say how important the captain was in a game like this. Looked like he dropped his stick a few times because of that finger injury. Guy was everywhere, though. Drilled a couple of Senators early (shocker) and set the tone.
11) And how about the last two-plus games for Derek Stepan? Here’s a kid who needs to find his consistency, because he carries the puck, passes the puck and shoots the puck like a star-in-waiting. Needs to do it more often. They don’t win this series without a lot of guys. They don’t win this series without Stepan, to name one, for sure.
12) Seems I’m saying the same thing about a lot of guys … I mean, who didn’t play well in Game 7?
13) Brandon Dubinsky didn’t play after he looked like he tweaked a right knee or ankle along the boards around the eight-minute mark of the third. Didn’t get an update. Maybe at practice today. That’s another reason Kreider and Hagelin were protecting the late lead, with Brian Boyle already out.
14) Wonder what Torts thought about the silly confetti flying from the rafters after the first round.
15) Why the dumb schedule, with an extra day off between Games 3 and 4, and a 12:30 Game 4? Why does the No. 1 seed have to play a day and a half after winning a Game 7, and thus practice and gameplan for the next opponent the day after a Game 7 instead of resting up? Because NBC, Comcast, Mr. Snider and the Empire State Building say so. Well, OK, the ESB has no say, but TV really is the tail wagging this dog.
16) As the Soup Nazi might say: Next!
My Three Rangers Stars:
1) Henrik Lundqvist.
2) Dan Girardi.
3) Ryan McDonagh/Marc Staal.
AP photos, above.