Bishop, Lightning put anemic Rangers offense out of its misery in Game 7 win

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist shakes hands with Lightning counterpart Ben Bishop after Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In the final minutes of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist sat on his team’s bench, a thousand-yard stare having settled in behind his eyes, his head occasionally hanging down. You felt for him, because it wasn’t his fault the Lightning eliminated the Blueshirts with a 2-0 victory. Sure, the game-winner he allowed to Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn at 1:54 of the third period wasn’t the finest moment of his impressive NHL career, but the Rangers weren’t unable to defend their conference championship because he let down his teammates.

No, the Rangers are now done for the year for the reason many have seen coming for a while now: their anemic offense once again made lemons out of lemonade and was unable to provide any goals in support of Lundqvist for the second time in the series. Lundqvist lived up to his end of the bargain, but the Blueshirts failed to far too often in the 2015 post-season, and on Friday, it was the end of them. Read more

Bolts’ Killorn nets game-winner in Game 7 with 5-hole goal on Lundqvist

Tampa's Alex Killorn scores the game-winning goal under pressure from Rangers forward Dominic Moore in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn came into Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final with six goals and 15 points in 19 games. But his seventh goal and 16th point – an early third-period goal against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Friday – is the biggest of his three-year NHL career, as it was the game-and-series-winner in a 2-0 Lightning victory.

The 25-year-old Killorn hadn’t scored since Game 3 of the Eastern Final, but when he sent a backhand shot through Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s legs, he provided enough offense to get the Bolts back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since Tampa won the championship in 2004: Read more

Bolts’ Carle crushes Blueshirts’ Kreider with bone-rattling hit

Tampa's Matt Carle lays into the Rangers' Chris Kreider during the second period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday.  (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final Friday was a no-scoring affair through the first 40 minutes, but it was also a passionate (read: physical) contest that included Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Matt Carle levelling New York Rangers left winger Chris Kreider with a massive check.

Kreider had his head down on the second-period hit, and paid for it (although he immediately jumped up, resumed playing and never missed a shift after that). It was easily the hit of the night to that point in the game, and one of the biggest hits of the 2015 post-season tournament: Read more

Five reasons why the Tampa Bay Lightning will win tonight’s Game 7

Brian Boyle and Tyler Johnson. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning have delivered exactly what we hoped they would. We’ve gotten mostly fantastic goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist and wildly unpredictable goaltending from Ben Bishop. We’ve seen the NHL’s two fastest teams trade chances in a warp-speed transition game leading to breakaways and comebacks. Steven Stamkos and Rick Nash have awakened. Martin St-Louis and Ryan Callahan have scored on their former teams.

So it’s perfectly fitting to see these two teams clash in a Game 7 tonight. Who ya got? It depends on what you value most: veteran goaltending and the mystique of a storied arena or good, old-fashioned scoring chances, the symptom of possessing the puck more than the other team. Can you guess which side I fall on?

Here are five reasons why the Tampa Bay Lightning will prevail in Game 7.

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Five reasons why the New York Rangers will win tonight’s Game 7

New York forwards Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan celebrate Stepan's game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Blueshirts' 2-1 overtime win over Washington. (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

With a victory Friday night, the New York Rangers will be heading to the Stanley Cup final for the second consecutive year. The only thing standing in their way is the Tampa Bay Lightning. But worry not, Rangers fans, because your team has the edge.

Though the Lightning have been one of the best teams in the league all campaign and have been impressive through the first two rounds of the post-season, there’s something to be said for the continued success of one club, and that the Rangers have been able to maintain their play over the course of the past two years bodes well for them to keep things rolling as they head into Game 7 Friday night.

It may not be easy – and in all likelihood it could be a nail-biting, one-goal game – but there are five big reasons why the Rangers will be moving on to the final. Read more

Memorial Cup: Quebec stars show up just in time

Zach Fucale (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

QUEBEC CITY – Hard to believe, but coming into Thursday’s tiebreaker game at the Memorial Cup, Anthony Duclair did not have a goal. Zach Fucale wasn’t at peak form and the host Quebec Remparts didn’t look too threatening. But in beating their fellow Quebec Leaguers from Rimouski 5-2, the Remparts put it all together.

And of course Quebec wants to win the Memorial Cup on home ice, but there’s also the added factor of the venue itself: Le Colisee, the arena that Jean Beliveau, Guy Lafleur and Peter Stastny all called home in the past, will close after this tournament.

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Lightning has to hope lightning strikes once in Game 7 vs. Rangers

Anton Stralman and Jesper Fast  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Faced with the biggest game and the most crucial test of his NHL coaching career, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper channeled his inner philosopher when he contemplated the enormity of the task facing his team in Game 7 Friday night.

“It’s like, the first six games of this series, when you think about it, do they really mean anything?” Cooper asked on a media conference call Wednesday afternoon. “They really don’t. It’s come down to a one-game series and Game 7 is really the only one that matters.”

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Forget the Nash trade, Brassard the Rangers’ real steal from Columbus

Derick Brassard (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Of all the players who could have scored a hat trick for the New York Rangers in Game 6, few would have thought it would be Derick Brassard. After all, in the regular season Brassard found the back of the net 19 times in 80 games. But Wednesday, if you had to take a quick poll, you’d be hard done by to find those who wouldn’t put Brassard alongside Henrik Lundqvist as the Rangers’ playoff MVPs. This post-season, Brassard has been on fire.

“It was just like one of those nights,” Brassard said. “I was in the right place at the right time. My teammates gave me some really good plays.”

One of those nights or not, maybe his three-goal outburst should have been expected because Brassard has continuously gotten better in the Big Apple. From the moment he set foot in Madison Square Garden as a Ranger, after being one of three players acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Marian Gaborik, Brassard has found a new life to his game, one that at times was missing while he was a Blue Jacket. Read more