Another Rangers vs Devils Game 7, nothing better
Come playoff time, the New York Rangers are a meme. I don’t mean that in a bad way, however the Rangers playoff history since 2012 can be boiled down into one singular meme.
In Chris Kreider’s entire tenure with the New York Rangers, he will be playing in his ninth game seven on Monday night. To put that in perspective with how ludicrous that is, Kreider has played in more game sevens than nine active NHL franchises have played in their existence, including the Buffalo Sabres, who have been around since 1970!
Oh by the way, the Rangers are 7-1 in those eight games.
“It seems like we play in a lot of them,” Kreider said when asked about the team’s ability to play well in elimination games over the past two seasons.
Rangers vs Devils in Game 7
For the third time in history of the Hudson River Rivalry, the Rangers and New Jersey Devils will play in a game seven. The last time these two teams met up in a winner take all game was the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals.
“There are kids now who haven’t had a Rangers, Devils moment that’s defined their childhood,” said Jonny Lazarus, who covers the Rangers for TheHockeyNews.
How did we get here? For those of you that are just now tuning into the series, you have missed a lot.
The Rangers dominated in Newark for the first two games of this series, defeating the Devils by the identical score of 5-1 in each game. As the series shifted to Madison Square Garden, the Devils were forced to make some tough decisions, which included benching starting goalie Vitek Vanecek, for 22-year old rookie Akira Schmid.
The Rangers are stymied by the Devils on home ice, scoring just twice in the two games. Neither team has won a game at home. In game five, it took the Devils just 39 seconds to open the scoring and they did not look back, winning 4-0. Finally after falling behind 1-0, the Rangers exploded for five goals in game six to even the series a three and force a game seven.
Igor Shesterkin has given the Rangers Stanley Cup quality goaltending through the first six games of the series. His .939 save percentage leads the league through six games, and his 1.72 goals against average is second among goalies that have played at least two games.
“This team is only going to go as far as Igor goes. He’s the most important player on this team and he has been that way since last year, and playing as good as it gets right now,” Lazarus said in an interview with Forever Blueshirts.
Mika Zibanejad was finally able to find the back of the net Saturday. It took Zibanejad six games to score his first of the playoffs last season as well. He then went on to score the game tying goal late in game seven against Pittsburgh, and tallied 10 goals in 20 games.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie and say it wasn’t a good feeling seeing the puck go in, but the wins are all that matters,” Zibanejad said calmly in his postgame press conference with the media Saturday.
It will be imperative for the Rangers to keep suffocating the Devils defensively to win game seven on the road. New York has held an explosive Devils offense, that ranked fifth in the NHL in scoring this season, to just over two goals per game this series. Couple that with piggybacking off the offensive success the team had on Saturday when it came to more purposeful shots on goal, and you have a recipe for success in a situation the Rangers have found themselves in before.