(Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)
It all goes back to last spring. Everyone — myself included — had the New York Rangers losing the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in five games to the Pittsburgh Penguins after they lost their third game in Game 4.
But they didn’t.
Instead, they came back to win the series in seven.
Much of this spark was credited to Marty St. Louis picking up his game after the death of his mother, but he alone did not win the series. While his goal and assist in the final three games of the series helped, they weren’t the only factor.
After being shutout in Games 2 and 3 of the series, the Rangers only allowed one goal each in Games 5, 6 and 7.
It doesn’t take an expert to know that St. Louis can’t record a shutout. So was this Henrik Lundqvist figuring out Sidney Crosby, who was held without a point in these three games, and Evgeni Malkin, who had only a goal and assist over these games?
Chances are, it was both.
Either way, the Rangers won this series, followed by the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Rangers’ power play, which currently has a dreadful 14.3 percent success rate, finally showed some life when Brassard scored on one of the team’s four chances.
The Penguins’ power play, which we have been told over and over again is deadly, went 0-for-3 with Rick Nash netting a shorthanded goal on one of the chances.
On Saturday, the two teams faced each other again — this time in Pittsburgh.
While the Rangers were only able to earn one point from this game after losing in a shootout, 3-2, the Penguins are seven points ahead of the Rangers in the standings, suggesting that this should have been an easy, regulation win.
However, the Rangers’ recent 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers showed us that records can sometimes have very little influence on games.
Despite the fact that they were nowhere near as dominant in this game, the Rangers put up a fight.
They had another power play goal — this one by St. Louis — and killed off both of the Penguins’ man advantages.
If the Rangers can continue to perform at a high level against teams as powerful as the Penguins and beat enough of the little guys like the Oilers, they should have no problem making it to the playoffs and creating a run similar to last year’s.
The two teams will play again — in New York — on Dec. 8.