This is why the New York Rangers fought so hard to secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference. While home ice advantage has been anything but in this series, there is no other placed I want Game 7 to be played other than Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers are just 3-5 in seventh and deciding games in their history. However, all three of those wins have come at the Garden: 1992 and 1994 against the New Jersey Devils and 1994 against the Vancouver Canucks.

Don LaGreca of 1050 ESPN radio brought up and interesting stat during the Michael Kay show. Prior to Game 6, the Rangers scored only five goals in four games. According to LaGreca that only happened once during any four-game stretch – in mid-January when the Rangers beat Phoenix 2-1 in a shootout, lost to Ottawa 3-0, beat Toronto 3-0, and then lost a 4-1 game to Montreal.

The Blueshirts Game 6 victory was not without its controversy, horrible officiating and potential Ranger injury concern.

Andrew Gross of The (Bergen) Record wrote, “The biggest concern for the Rangers might be the health of Captain Ryan Callahan. Callahan did not miss a third-period shift in playing 24:28 but he appeared to have injured his middle finger blocking Chris Phillips’ shot at 3:00 of the third period while on the ice as a penalty killer.”

“Trainer Jim Ramsey examined the finger on the bench and Callahan, who was credited with six hits and three blocked shots, was not available to the media after the game.”

Odds are, short of amputation, the Captain will be in the lineup. The question will be how effective can he be.

As for the controversy and horrible officiating, where shall we start?

Both teams have reasons for being displeased with the tandem of Steve Kozari and Tim Peel – something I warned about in yesterday’s Chris Neil article.

I can understand trying to get control of the game early, but to call a ticky-tack roughing call on Mike Rupp is beyond belief – especially when he is matched up with Zenon Konopka as opposed to Jason Spezza.

A couple of minutes after the Rupp penalty, that jackwagon Neil gets away with tripping Brad Richards.

Ottawa fans should be upset at the goalie interference call on Nick Foligno because Dan Girardi did push him into Lundqvist. However, Foligno got away with a slew foot-like trip on Lundqvist earlier in the period and the goalie interference goal on Chris Kreider was a joke because Craig Anderson turned his body into Kreider to initiate the contact.

I guess we really should start, and probably end, with the goal Ottawa scored in the final minute – the one that is probably going to cost Henrik Lundqvist a few fishnagels give The King’s Post-game comments.

“Oh my God, it scares me,” Lundqvist lamented. “When it’s such an obvious play, goalie interference and a kick, and they still call it a goal, it scares me that someone can call that. It’s just unbelievable. It still upsets me. We have this game and they get a chance. Someone wants them back in the game, obviously, because there’s no other explanation.”

I really hate to give any credence to conspiracy theories, but if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, then it must be Aflac.

When you factor in the Carl Hagelin suspension, the lack of any disciplinary action taken by Brendan Shanahan (more on him later) on the Chris Neil hit on Brian Boyle, and then you toss in the Senators second goal, it gets difficult to remain neutral in the conspiracy theory debate.

Credit is due to NBC analyst Brian Hayward who jumped all over the interference portion of the sham goal. As Hayward pointed out during the game, if Neil’s kicking motion causes Lundqvist’s stick to knock the puck into the net, the goal must be waved off.

Taking it one step further it is hard to believe that four officials did not see what Greg Wyshynski (Yahoo’s Puck Daddy) termed “Chris Neil using Lundqvist as a Swifter” as Neil harpooned the Rangers goaltender during the scramble.

Isn’t interesting that the second Senators goal was credited to Spezza as opposed to Neil? Then again, if they credited the goal to Neil they couldn’t defend the odious “inconclusive” call on Neil’s distinct kicking motion.

Why would the NHL want its biggest market out of the playoffs in favor of a small Canadian market? I am not so sure they do, but there is also a groundswell to keep Canada’s lone team alive given that a Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993.

Given the inconsistent and haphazard nature of the officiating and the rulings coming out of the NHL, the Blueshirts would be wise to make sure Game 7 doesn’t come done to one play, penalty call or video review.

Speaking of video reviews, Brett Cyrgalis of the NY Post made an interesting observation stemming from the controversial goal.

Senators’ first-line winger Milan Michalek may be facing a suspension for Game 7 as a result of kicking Dan Girardi twice in the midsection with his skate blade,” Cyrgalis writes. “The play was part of the scrum in front of Lundqvist that resulted in the second goal, and Canadian television outlet CBC has numerous angles of the altercation.”

Sadly, if you think any suspension is forthcoming then I still have that bridge in Brooklyn for sale.

Setting aside the shanahanigans that arose out of Game 6, there were plenty of positives points. First, and most importantly, we saw the coming of age part for Chris Kreider. The rookie from Boston College is growing in confidence and is showing why President/GM Glen Sather refused to consider including him in any trade talks for Rick Nash.

While Derek Stepan is a “grizzled veteran” when compared to Kreider, the Wisconsin Badger hit the scoresheet in a big way registering his first three playoff points of his career.

Give credit to Brandon Prust who managed to finally “goad” Neil into a fight. While Neil might have won the fight and whipped up the Scotiabank Place crowd, Prust’s actions stirred on his team and did quiet Neil down for a period or so.

“Prustie does it for us all year, but what he did for us tonight was unbelievable,” Richards admitted to Larry Brooks of the NY Post. “We didn’t want to let him down. We talked about it [after the first period]. I love the guy.”

For his part, Prust knew exactly what he was doing.

“We were down 1-0,” said Prust commented to Newsday’s Steve Zipay. “Whenever I’m fighting, it’s usually not for me, it’s to get the guys going. I think most of it’s just trying to get the guys going, to get a little spark, a little jump…maybe a little bit for Boyler, too.”

Speaking of Richards, he stepped up his play as he orchestrated both of the Rangers power play goals while finishing second in ice time among the team’s forwards.
Brandon Dubinsky stepped up and filled in admirably for Boyle and was the best center on faceoffs – winning 52%.

Carl Hagelin showed just how much his speed was missed during the game. His second period forecheck with Ruslan Fedotenko drew the first of the two Senator penalties that lead to the five-on-three advantage.

“[Hagelin] adds speed and I think he makes everybody else play quicker,” Coach John Tortorella stated prior to Game 6.

Michael Del Zotto deserves a pat on the back for hammering Neil behind the Rangers net with a little more than five minutes left in the third period. Neil stayed down long enough for play to be whistled dead.

Neil’s response. “I’m sure I will catch him with his head down,” Neil confessed to Garrioch.

Overall, the Rangers just played a smarter game – especially when they took the lead. Unlike previous games, the Blueshirts did not try to sit on the lead. Instead, they did look to add on to the lead. The only time they hunkered down was late in the third period when Ottawa finally played with the urgency that their coach Paul MacLean thought they lacked.

“I didn’t think we played very well or consistently until the last six minutes of the game,” MacLean told Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. “I’d like to see us play harder.”

As promised, we now we revisit Brendan Shanahan one more time. My wife Roe was a huge fan of Shanny when he was a Ranger. One of her prized possessions was a Rangers tee shirt with his name and number on it – key word WAS.

To say she was a bit upset over his lack of disciplinary action against Chris Neil would be a major understatement. After Ottawa took the lead, she got up and grabbed her Shanahan tee shirt.

As the first period continued, she calmly and methodically took a pair of scissors and cut the thing into neat and measured shreds. First went the sleeves and then rest of the shirt, including his name and number. The only thing she did not cut up was the “Rangers” on the front.

She then sat down and wrote him a letter expressing her displeasure over his job as NHL Director of Player Safety. She also explained that she was mailing him back his tee shirt because he does not deserve to wear it.

Okay, truth be told, when I am the sane Ranger fan in the house – Houston, we have a problem!

As a result, you can see why the Rangers have to win Game 7 and vanquish the Ottawa Senators. Not so much for Roe’s sanity, but for my safety. Needless to say, I will be sleeping with my goalie equipment to protect me from Lorena, I mean, Roe. :-)

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