Let’s Party Like it’s 1994!
Ranger fans, its time to stand up! I know a lot of you are hockey haters, and to be honest with you, I could care less. The New York Rangers are getting ready for their big game 7 tomorrow night, and it is the most exciting story in town. The Rangers have shown heart, desire and a will to win all season long, earning the #1 seed in the East. In this first round series, the Ottawa Senators have given the Rangers all they could handle, took a 3-2 series lead and pinned the Rangers against a wall. New York had two choices, fight through or go home. They chose the same path they have all season long.
In their HUGE game 6 victory over the Senators, the Rangers started off slow. They fell down into a 1-0 hole, and things were looking very bleak going into the second period. However, this resilient group came together in the second and announced to the hockey world that they were not going down without a fight. All of a sudden the Rangers started working harder, drew some penalties and clicked on back-to-back power plays. Captain Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and rookie Chris Kreider kept pressuring Ottawa, and finally broke through for an even strength goal to give New York a 3-1 lead. The rest of the game was all about defense and goaltending, which the Rangers have proved time and again to be among, if not the best in the game.
Going into tomorrow night’s game, I truly believe the Rangers will prevail. Ottawa had a chance to close this series out at home and they failed. The Rangers outplayed them all over the ice, and have been by far the classier team. The Senators, lead by Chris Neil, have been using goon techniques all series long, as they have hit, slashed, punched and have just played dirty hockey. In game 6, Neil blatantly tripped Ranger forward Brad Richards, then hit him in the back with his stick while Richards was on the ice. It was just a small sampling of a number of cheap plays Ottawa has used to get under the Rangers skin. Thus far, it has not worked.
Carl Haggelin is back from suspension and kept playing at the level he left off at before he was sidelined. He provided a spark the team missed badly when he was out. Richards finally stepped up with a goal and an assist, and proved to the New York fans that he is the big time player that they are paying him to be. Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Anton Stralman have been doing all the dirty work, slowing down a strong Senator attack and showing why the Rangers defense was top in the league. Then there is the real King of New York. Henrik Lundquist has stood on his head. He has made one save after another from point blank range. Going into game 7, I would much rather have him than Craig Anderson, the Senators goalie, who has given the Rangers trouble but was solved on Monday night.
No matter what happens, it promises to be a great night at MSG tomorrow for hockey fans. Lets hope that the team that plays the game the right way, the Rangers, prevail and look to the next round. I strongly believe that they will come through, and that this battle against Ottawa will make them stronger in the upcoming rounds. While the Yankees and Mets start their season, the Giants and Jets get prepared for a draft, and the Knicks finish their campaign and start thinking about a first round matchup with LeBron, the Rangers are truly the story. If you don’t like hockey, it’s your loss. Those of us in Ranger nation have a team that we could be proud of and are counting down the minutes to the puck drops and MSG rocks in a manner that it hasn’t in damn near a decade.