By Jared Max
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The New York Rangers remind me of Houdini. Not the magician, but former Yankees reliever David Robertson. He wiggled in and out of trouble on a regular basis. He used to make me wonder if he did it just for fun.
While I don’t believe the Rangers toyed with the Washington Capitals with the confidence of a house cat who discovered a baby mouse in the basement, I think my favorite hockey team knows, as I do, that they are superior. Even though the Rangers faced elimination in three consecutive games, they never panicked. As I wrote last week, all they needed was one … good … push. They got it in Game 5 when Chris Kreider scored a series-saving, game-tying goal with 1:41 to play, before Ryan McDonagh won the game in sudden death. I knew then that the Rangers would advance.
The Rangers remind me of the Florida State Seminoles, too. This is not a good thing.
Last college football season, the Seminoles tomahawk-chopped their way out of seeming-despair on a near-weekly basis. As the season went on, Florida State played from behind, habitually. Eventually, the wear and tear caught up to them in the Rose Bowl when they were trounced by Oregon, 59-20.
While I don’t believe the Lightning are going to play Stanley Cup spoiler, I think the opponent that follows Tampa Bay will be licking its chops if the Rangers are tested in the Eastern Conference finals as they were in the semis.
I love the fact that the Rangers are the first team in NHL history to overcome 3-1 series deficits in consecutive seasons. I think it’s even cooler that the last three years, they have won playoff Game 7s on May 13. But I’m ready for a slow ride at this amusement park, or I fear that I will not make it through the night. Too many roller coasters.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers are the first NHL team to win 10 straight home playoff games in which they were facing elimination. They are also 7-0 all-time at home in Game 7s. I am grateful that they will have home-ice advantage again. And then again. This is their path to the Cup.
I do not care that the Lightning outscored the Rangers 11-4 at Madison Square Garden and swept their season series. All three games took place in a span of less than three weeks from November 17 to December 1. December?? Isn’t that like five months ago?
Rangers in five.
Jared Max is a multi-award winning sportscaster. He hosted a No. 1 rated New York City sports talk show, “Maxed Out” — in addition to previously serving as longtime Sports Director at WCBS 880, where he currently anchors weekend sports. Follow and communicate with Jared on Twitter @jared_max.