Today is the day. Today is the day we find out what the Rangers are made of. Will they fold under the pressure? Or will their stars come out and shine? Game Sevens are where heroes are born. Game Sevens are where the dreams are crushed. But most importantly, they are where the leaders of the team take charge.
Rewind back to 1994. Brian Leetch scored the only goal in the Eastern Conference Finals until a wild scramble in front of the net. Then a player brought in to lead through the playoff grind, Stephane Matteau, scored the winner in double overtime.
Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, and
Brian Noonan Mark Messier (had to, sorry) scored the three goals for the Rangers en route to the Stanley Cup. Messier, got the game winner of course.
Steve Yzerman blasted a laser from the point that ended the only chance the St. Louis Blues ever had of winning a Cup.
The list goes on and on.
This year, it’s the Rangers turn to show what they can do. They brought in Brad Richards to lead through the playoffs. He took control of Game Six. He must do it again in Game Seven. Ryan Callahan must show why he was named captain of the team. Henrik Lundqvist must continue to play out of his mind.
Marian Gaborik needs to show up on the score sheet. Dan Girardi needs to continue shutting down that potent top line of the Ottawa Senators. These are the guys that are going to lead this team now and in the future. These are the guys that need to step up tonight.
The Rangers prided themselves on outworking their opponents in the regular season. They played blue collar hockey the entire year and earned the right to have home ice tonight. They got away from that for a few games, or at least it seemed that way. If there was any time to re-establish their identity, now is the time to do so.
The powerplay has been their savior for a few games now, which still looks odd to write after this past season. Now it’s even strength hockey that needs to carry the load. The Gaborik’s, Stepan’s, Richards’, and Hagelin’s of the team will need to find another gear and put away this pesky eight seed that matches up so well against the Rangers.
The usual suspects lifted the Rangers during the regular season. It’s time for them to lift the team again to the next round.