A blog focusing on the New York Rangers and all things hockey (also Yankees and Giants) with a New York attitude from a fan of 40 years whose greatest highlight came when Mark Messier lifting the Stanley Cup on June 14, 1994
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It was only the first round and the overriding emotion may have been more relief than joy.
Nonetheless, if you are a Rangers' fan, you have to feel proud of your team for finding a way, for surviving.
It is seldom pretty with this team and it wasn't on Thursday, but the Rangers dug down deep to defeat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 at a rocking Madison Square Garden to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Washington
New York got its goals from unlikely sources as defensemen Marc Staal and Dan Girardi scored in the second period. Staal scored only his third career playoff goal and Girardi tallied his first career postseason goal that turned out to be the series winner.
Who would have imagined that? In a way, though, it was fitting that it would be Staal and Girardi -- the two anchors on defense - to score the goals. Staal missed the first half of the season while recovering from concussion-like syndroms and Girardi has been an unsung hero all season.
You play all season to get a seventh game at home, but in this era when so there is so much parity in the league, there is never any guarantee. Ask the Bruins and Panthers, who lost seventh games at home in overtime.
The Rangers relied on their home crowd, they relied on the goaltending on Henrik Lundqvist, who has carried the team all season, and th
ey relied on their blood and guts style to survive Ottawa's push in the final minutes of the third period.
Going forward, the Rangers sill need more offense from Marian Gaborik, who has been held scoreless since game one.
But on this night, the Rangers defended their home ice, improving to 4-0 at MSG in game sevens. They also rallied from a 3-2 series deficit to win a series for only the second time in franchise history.
Rookie Chris Kreider got a ton of ice time in the third period, and you saw the emotion on the face of Lundqvist as he embraced countyman Daniel Alfredsson during the post-series handshake.
Surviving a grueling series against the Senators could make the Rangers tougher or it could leave them emotionally drained. As underdogs, the Capitals will be playing with house money afer ousting the Stanley Cup champion Bruins.
But the Rangers are moving on as well and that didn't look it was going to happen after they were blanked by the Senators 2-0 in game five.