Alexander Ovechkin’s guarantee of a win in Game 7 has garnered almost as much as attention from media as he’s received from New York’s defenseman. The “Great Eight” has been held without a point in four straight games now, during which he’s had 17 shots turned away by the “king,” Henrik Lundqvist. In a series in which every game has been decided by a goal, Ovechkin ending his mini slump could be the difference between moving on and booking tee-times.
We won’t have to wait long to learn whether his words were prophetic or misplaced as Game 7 bewteen the Rangers and Caps gets underway tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden (7:30 PM Eastern).
You don’t need to look far back in history to see the last time these teams met in a winner-take-all game. Washington’s last two postseason runs came to an end at the hands of the Rangers, losing 5-0 in Game 7 in 2013 and dropping a closer 2-1 affair back in 2012. But those losses came under different coaching staffs and Barry Trotz’s group already showed its mettle this playoffs beating out New York’s other team in a seven game series last round.
In order to move on, though, the Caps will have to solve Lundqvist, who in his career has a jaw-dropping .965 save percentage, a 1.00 goals against average, and a sterling 5-1 record in Game 7s. (His only loss came to the Capitals back in 2009.) Washington’s Braden Holtby has been strong these playoffs, amassing a .944 save percentage and a 1.71 GAA, but he will have no room for error at MSG.
Special teams could prove the difference maker – or lack of difference maker – for Washington. The Caps power play has been ineffective when given the opportunity and hasn’t scored a goal since Game 1, going 0 for 10 in that time. The Rangers have been slightly better, going 2 of 14 with the man advantage.
The Rangers’ Chris Kreider will look to keep his hot streak going after scoring two goals in Game 6 to double his total in the series.
Though Ovechkin is confident enough to promise a win, it’s hard to follow suit after looking at Lundqvist’s Game 7 track record. Expect another tight, low scoring affair, with the home team eking one out.
Pick: Rangers (-170).
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