The Rangers rose to the occasion and beat a more talented opponent. They will sit and wait for Boston or Montreal to emerge as their opponents in the Eastern Conference finals.
Fans have grown accustomed to Henrik Lundqvist’s breathtaking heroics. But those final five minutes Tuesday may have been the best hockey he’s ever played.
The horn sounded and Lundqvist lifted his arms in a mixture of joy and exhaustion. Hey, nobody said carrying a team back from the brink was going to be easy, even for the goaltender his Rangers teammates call “King.”
Looking overmatched and overwhelmed while falling behind 3-1 to the Penguins four games into the Eastern Conference semis, it’s the Rangers who head to Game 7 on Tuesday night looking like the team ready to move on.
New York has never won a series it trailed 3-1 and has never beaten the Penguins in the playoffs. That trend might be changing, largely due to the emotional lift St. Louis brought to the Rangers this weekend.
“They’re a good team and I don’t want to take any credit away from how well they’re playing right now,” Vigneault said. “They’re making it real hard on us.”
Every person inside the Garden deserves a full refund for being subjected to the sloppy, out-of-sync, uninspired hockey produced by the Rangers.
The King has been good for three games, but Penguins counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury has gone from shaky question mark to star of the series with shutouts on consecutive days.
Alain Vigneault finally took a shot at his club’s taxing postseason schedule, but still won’t say his players are tired. Judging by their effort in their latest loss to the Penguins, he might be right.
The Penguins handed New York three consecutive power play opportunities – and the Blueshirts failed to cash in. What unfolded was the most timid skating any fan has ever seen.
To lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, there can be no passengers. It takes a full-on commitment from the entire team — and the Blueshirts had it going on Wednesday night.
“No one was jittery. We all knew what to do,” Daniel Carcillo said after beating the Flyers 2-1 in Game 7. “On this team, no one was shying away from the big stage.”
As they trailed in the series, the Flyers always believed they’d return to New York. Even on short rest, they’re ready for one more comeback. It’s up to the Rangers to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Boyle doesn’t possess the star qualities of Lundqvist or Nash — but take him away from the equation and New York’s formula would be broken.
If the Blueshirts can win again in Philadelphia on Friday, they will come back home with a chance to advance to the second round with a victory on Sunday.