The top-seeded New York Rangers had a chance to close out the scrappy seventh-seeded Washington Capitals in Game 6, but they were never able to recover from a slow start and lost 2-1 at Verizon Center.
Nothing has been easy for the Rangers in this postseason, as they had to rally from a 3-2 series deficit in the first round against the Ottawa Senators and will now need to win another Game 7 on Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in order to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
How are the Rangers going to avoid elimination at Madison Square Garden? Here are five reasons why their fans should have faith:
1. Henrik Lundqvist -- He's arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, and a big reason why the Rangers are still alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Rangers are averaging a shade over two goals per game and have gotten by on Lundqvist allowing a shade under two goals per game. Braden Holtby has been terrific in net for the Capitals, but this is where Lundqvist can show why he's likely to win his first Vezina Trophy in June.
2. Brad Richards -- The bigger the stage, the better Richards becomes. He was signed to a monster contract this past summer for games like these, and so far he's been worth every penny in the postseason. He has 5 goals and 5 assists in 13 games and scored with 6.6 seconds remaining in Game 5 to force overtime in a contest the Rangers eventually won. He's been here, done that, and his confidence and leadership are valuable intangibles.
3. This is their type of game -- The Rangers played tight, grind-it-out hockey all season and have never been shaky in those contests. In the first round, they fell behind 1-0 to the Senators when facing elimination in Game 6 and pulled it together to win that game by a goal and earn another one-goal win in Game 7. That experience will help them in what is sure to be another low-scoring, gritty affair.
4. Home ice is nice -- The Rangers don't have the best of records in Game 7s in their history. They are just 4-5, but are 4-0 when playing a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. Coach John Tortorella has said repeatedly that home ice means nothing until a Game 7, and the stats back him up.
5. History is on their side -- The Rangers bucked the trend in the first round by rallying from a 3-2 series deficit to advance to the conference semifinals. According to the site WhoWins.com, there have been 324 series in NHL history in which a team had a 3-2 lead, and the team leading has gone on to win the series 257 times, nearly 80 percent of the time. Combine that with their sterling record at home in Game 7s, and all signs point to the Rangers getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.
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