On average, gasoline was around $1.30 to $1.42 per gallon in the United States the last time the New York Rangers were in the Eastern Conference final. The year was 1997, but tonight the Rangers will look to defeat the Washington Capitals, ensuring a date with destiny vs. the New Jersey Devils.
This is a pivotal Game 7 and each team has already appeared in and won a Game 7 in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Here are some statistics for both teams heading into Game 7.
New York Rangers Leaders
Goals: Brad Richards (5)
Assists: Derek Stepan (6)
Points: Brad Richards (10)
+/-: Ryan Callahan (+2)
TOI/G (Defenseman): Dan Girardi (27:49)
TOI/G (Forward): Ryan Callahan (24:37)
Washington Capitals Leaders
Goals: Alex Ovechkin (5)
Assists: Nicklas Bäckström (6)
Points: Alex Ovechkin (9)
+/-: Roman Hamrlík (+8)
TOI/G (Defenseman): Karl Alzner (24:59)
TOI/G (Forward): Nicklas Bäckström (21:28)
Where to Watch
Saturday, May 12, 2012
TV: NBC Sports Network
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Commentators: Mike "Doc" Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire
Pregame coverage will start at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
New York Rangers
Carl Hagelin | Brad Richards (A) | Marián Gáborík
Chris Kreider | Derek Stepan | Ryan Callahan (C)
Ruslan Fedotenko | Brian Boyle | Artem Anisimov
Mike Rupp | Johnny Mitchell | Brandon Prust
Ryan McDonagh | Dan Girardi
Marc Staal (A) | Anton Strålman
Michael Del Zotto | Stu Bickel
Alex Ovechkin (C) | Brooks Laich (A) | Troy Brouwer (A)
Jason Chimera | Nicklas Bäckström (A) | Alex Semin
Matt Hendricks | Jay Beagle | Marcus Johansson
Keith Aucoin | Mathieu Perreault | Joel Ward
Karl Alzner | John Carlson
Roman Hamrlík | Mike Green
Jeff Schultz | Dennis Wideman
SV%: .936 | GAA: 1.73 | SO: 1
Henrik Lundqvist will be tasked with keeping the Rangers in the game once again, as he has selflessly done all series long. His job will be much easier if the Rangers can score for him early. If the Rangers give Henrik a lead early, you can count on Henrik shutting the door.
Key Stat: Rangers are 4-0 lifetime in Game 7s at home.
SV%: .935 | GAA: 1.95 | SO: 0
Braden Holtby has been a compelling story during the NHL playoffs thus far. He was a third-string goalie eager for a chance to show what he could do for Washington. He his now on the verge of closing out the Rangers, but back-to-back wins are something that have been scarce for Holtby in the playoffs. Everyone is aware of Holtby's impressive streak for wins after a loss, but take a look at this key stat when it comes to winning for the Capitals.
Key Stat: Braden Holtby is 1-5 in games following a Washington Capitals win.
Keys to the Game
- Score early and often
- Unleash Chris Kreider on second line
- Exploit last change
- Capitalize on power play
- Stand up at blue line
The Rangers did not have a great Game 6. The team realizes that changes needed to be made and that was apparent in practice. With Kreider back on the second line, the Rangers can roll two scoring lines with speed that can match up accordingly because at home, the Rangers have the last line change.
The Rangers also need to stand up at the blue line and need to neutralize the Capitals' ability to skate into the zone uncontested. If the Rangers can force the Capitals to battle along the boards, the Rangers can dictate the pace and limit their amount of explosive rushes.
- Continue blocking shots
- Out-forecheck the Rangers
- Score the first goal
- Have Holtby remain stellar
- Finish chances
The Capitals could either very easily win or lose this game based on how they come out of the gate. The way this series has been going, the team that scores first usually sets the pace. In Game 6, the Capitals did exactly that by scoring first. The Rangers are going to come out with a lot of energy early and if they can limit their chances early, the game will dictate itself on momentum swings.
The Capitals have lost two of the three games played at Madison Square Garden so far, so getting out to a fast start would be in their best interests.
Players to Watch
Brad Richards: This is the type of situation that Richards thrives in. He is a big-game player who has a knack for coming through in the clutch. Do not be surprised if Richards takes the team on his back, as he has the experience and skill needed to win a big Game 7.
Braden Holtby: Holtby is going to be battling tons of emotions in this game. He just became a father this week and he will be in his second Game 7 on the road. He has played superb up to this point, so how he reacts in this Game 7 will be crucial. Holtby was rattled a bit in Game 1 and suffered a heart-wrenching loss in Game 5, so he will look to change his fate in the "World's Most Famous Arena."
Prediction: Rangers 3, Capitals 1
The one thing that has remained consistent with the Rangers all season long has been their ability to rebound in a huge way after a loss. The law of averages is on their side and there is no way they can play any worse than they did in Game 6. The Rangers have been home for a few days now and they are well rested and in their comfort zone.
Last change will give the Rangers an advantage with their line matchups, so expect John Tortorella to ride his top two lines.
I see Game 7 playing out in a similar fashion to Game 1, except the Rangers will take an early lead, only for the Capitals to make a comeback in too-little-too-late fashion.