Game 7's are rarely easy, and this one was no exception. Despite the fact that the New York Rangers were clearly the superior team throughout, the series — as it always seems to with these Rangers — came down to a frantic final few minutes that saw the Blueshirts hold on to eliminate the Philadelphia Flyers by a 2-1 score. The Rangers led 2-0 on goals by Dan Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot after a dominant second period, but a goal by Philly's Jason Akeson not quite five minutes into the third set up a stress-inducing final frame. The Blueshirts reward for the win? Game one in hostile Pittsburgh in less than 48 hours.
- So….where was this Tuesday night? Two games between the same two teams have never been more different than games 6 and 7.
- The better team won, plain and simple. The Rangers dictated the pace of play at even strength throughout the series, and generally frustrated the Flyers with their speed — especially tonight, when Philly looked a full step slower. The Flyers' superior special teams play — coupled with the Blueshirts inability to finish — kept them alive, but the Rangers outshot and out-chanced Philadelphia in just about every game (the game 6 no-show serving as the noticeable exception).
- Try to think of a time during the Lundqvist era that the Rangers have been able to win a series without asking The King to be extraordinary. There hadn't been one until now, which is a positive development. You can't always rely on your goalie to bail you out.
- Hats off to Steve Mason, who turned in an admirable performance in defeat, and really was the only reason game 7 was close. The final shot tally read 33-27 for the Rangers, but that doesn't do justice to just how lopsided the game was through two periods. Were it not for Mason's heroics — particularly in a second period where he faced 18 shots — it could've easily been 4 or maybe even 5-0 after two. His sprawling save on Martin St. Louis and two on Derek Stepan's wraparound try kept Philly alive in particular.
- Conversely, Henrik Lundqvist had a relatively easy night. He saw just 16 shots through two — most of them from the perimeter — before the Rangers backed off a bit in the third. Even then, he wasn't asked to be spectacular down the stretch, as the Blueshirts frustrated the Flyers and limited their quality looks, save for a handful of net mouth scrambles.
- It might be safe to assume at this point Dan Carcillo won't be coming out of the lineup until Chris Kreider comes back. Carcilo scored his second goal in three playoff games off a mind blowing spin-around backhand feed — which went through the skates of two stunned Flyers — from The Hobbit Wizard, Mats Zuccarello. For Carcillo, the goals are just the cherry on top — he's in there to forecheck and mix things up, which he did well — and it's those things as much as the goals that will keep him in the lineup.
- Rick Nash was very good despite not scoring. He had several good looks at the net, threw his weight around (5 hits!), and even dove to block a shot. If he plays like this every game, the goals will inevitably come. Facing Marc-Andre Fleury might help, too.
- Claude Giroux's most noticeable moment of the night was missing a wide open net in the second, which pretty much sums up the game — and the Flyers' captain's series — from a Philly perspective.
- A stick tap to the chronically unheralded Anton Stralman, who was excellent, as was Marc Staal. Ryan McDonagh played arguably his best game of the series, which is a positive development.
- So now on to Pittsburgh, where Crosby and Malkin and company wait on Friday. Thank the NHL schedule makers for giving the Rangers three games in four nights. Of course, the Blueshirts could also make things easier on themselves by winning a series in less than 7 games every now and then.
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