May 12, 2012, 10:11 PM EST
The New York Rangers needed all 14 games, but ultimately, they’re right where a No. 1 seed “should” be: the Eastern Conference finals. The Washington Capitals nearly beat them at their own grinding, defense-first game, but ultimately New York did just enough to win Game 7 by a score of 2-1. They’ll face local rivals the New Jersey Devils for the right to play in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
Let’s get to the questions.
- You’d think a gold medal would quiet doubters in the first place, but was Game 7 even sweeter for Henrik Lundqvist, who hasn’t had much playoff success in an otherwise remarkable career?
- The Rangers haven’t earned many style points so far in the playoffs, but the bottom line is that they’re 3-0 in must-win games so far (two elimination contests against Ottawa, one against Washington). Will New York wear down or do the Rangers simply thrive amid that discomfort?
- Shifting to the Capitals, is there anyone you’d “blame” in particular for falling in the semifinals? Alexander Semin received his usual round of critiques in some circles.
- Did Dale Hunter wait too long to open things up in the third period or was he simply “dancing with the girl who got him there”?
- Speaking of which, the Capitals have pleased many who believe in winning based on a certain style – defensive minded, shot-blocking and not very pretty – but the wide-open Washington teams peaked at Game 7 of the second round, too. Is a collapsing, more “conventional” style the best way to get the most out of this group?
- The Capitals came into the season with Stanley Cup aspirations, then drastically reduced expectations before a solid playoff run. So, let me ask Caps fans: are you satisfied or wondering “What if?”
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