You load sixteen tons, what do you get, Another day older and deeper in debt...My sincerest apologies to the late, great Tennessee Ernie Ford for playing song games, but I just couldn't resist.
You take 16 wins and what do you get, the Stanley Cup you bet...
Anyhow, you get the message. Get 16 wins and you earn that coveted silver mug called Lord Stanley's Cup. Sixteen wins don't sound so tough, but when you break it up into four series it is not so easy. So pray tell me, what do our heroes have to accomplish in order to reach this goal? Can they reach this goal? I think so.
First, of all there does not seem to be a team in th NHL East that looks like a super elite team. And that speaks for the entire NHL as well. Look at the playoffs. In three cases, the lower seeded teams have won the season series against the top seeded teams. Washington beat Boston 3 games to one. The Flyers beat the Pens 4 games to 2. Our heroes lost 3 games to 1 to the 8th place Ottawa Senators. The fourth matchup between the sixth place Devils and the third place Florida Panthers was 2-2. So it seems the playoffs are wide open, which gives the Rangers an edge, because they have been the most consistent team in the conference.
The Keys to the Cup
1. Goaltending – We have the best money goalie in the NHL. Lundqvist is the team MVP, he should be the NHL's MVP. He is determined and ready. This is his seventh year and he realizes that these opportunities don't come around that often. He must stay focused and not give up that occasional soft goal. It says here that we will get an outstanding performance from Sir Henrik.
2. Forechecking – We need strong and consistent forechecking. Every line and every shift. It would be nice if the lines were stable so everyone knows their assignments and jobs. It must be sixty minutes of relentless hockey not a burst here and a burst there. Fierce forechecking puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense and thats what leads to scoring opportunities.
3. Turnovers – We have to cut down on the turnovers especially in the neutral zone. Ottawa has a lot of speed and some pretty good snipers. No cross ice passes and none of those cutsy drop passes that a lot of our 'stylists' love to do. Skate straight ahead and keep getting the puck in deep and keeping Ottawa on their heels.
4. Of course there are other facets of the game like the special teams. Our penalty kill is usually pretty good when it has to handle four or less power plays. If we get up to seven or more penalties than all bets are off. So it behooves us to stay out of the sin bin. The power play? Forget it. Any team that refuses to shoot from the point because of the fear of a blocked shot is not going to be successful.
The Rangers lost their last two games badly. Not to be outdone the Senators have lost their last three. Momentum is on our side.
The Rangers in six.