You might think that reaching the conference final is the unfamiliar territory aforementioned, but it’s not. Rather the rare position the Rangers find themselves in is one that has them leading a playoff series by more than one game.
It begs the question: can the Rangers retain their focus and finish off the Canadiens in less than seven games? It looks like a promising possibility at this point in the series, but there’s still plenty of fight left in Montreal.
It would be groundbreaking to say the least for the Rangers to win a series early. The Rangers have not won a playoff series in fewer than seven games since 2008, when they defeated the New Jersey Devils in five games during the first round. The franchise has won five playoffs series since then, but all have required the full seven games.
The Rangers currently ride a five-game winning streak, but they must continue to play smart and focused hockey. They have to avoid taking penalties and keep Montreal’s power play off the scoreboard. New York has held Montreal to zero power play goals on seven chances to this point, and the Rangers need it to stay that way.
The Rangers also accomplished an unfamiliar feat for their franchise in Game 2. It was the first time in 14 chances that the Rangers won a playoff game with the lead in the series. In 13 previous occasions, New York lost playoff games with a one-game lead in each respective series.
Basically, the playoffs have been a roller coaster ride for New York since the late 2000’s. They get the rare opportunity to keep their roller coaster on the incline, and they must capitalize on it. The Rangers are no strangers to miraculous comebacks, but they don’t want to be on the wrong side of one in this series.
They need to continue to build on their recent success, and maybe they’ll get paid back with some rest. It’s too early to think about the Stanley Cup Finals, but I’ll do it anyway.
If the Rangers can find a way to close out Montreal in five or even six games, it will give them a chance to rest up for the Finals. The Rangers still have a chance to sweep, but realistically, Montreal should be able to win at least once. The Rangers will take any rest they can get. Game 3 of the East Finals will be the Rangers’ 99th game of the season between the regular season and 16 playoff games.
A hundred plus games is a lot for one hockey club to endure, and a shorter series with Montreal will go a long way for the Rangers. They still must take one game at a time and maintain the game plan that’s gotten them this far. New York needs to make use of its lead and try to wear down the Canadiens with physical play.
While it certainly is an unfamiliar spot for the Rangers, it’s a pretty good position to be in.