The New York Rangers are on the cusp of improbability. Historically, NHL teams trailing 3-1 have come back to win just 26 of 272 series. None of the 26 were Ranger clubs.
The Blueshirts are also attempting to become just the 18th squad win two Game 7s in the same playoff year (they did it in 2012, so it’s not unprecedented for them). And they’ll have to do it on the road, where visitors have just a .401 winning percentage all-time in seventh and deciding games.
Despite the seemingly long odds, nobody is counting them out. They’ve proven their resilience, their depth up front and on the blueline is shining through and they’re anchored by one of the game’s truly elite goalies.
On the flip side, Sidney Crosby has been uncharacteristically quiet and Marc-Andre Fleury is the personification of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates. You never quite know what you’re going to get.
Still, if you’re a fan of the Rangers, you’d be advised to adhere to the same routine you’ve had in recent days. Don’t change your route home from work. Drink the same beer, sit in the same chair and wear that lucky, ratty Ron Greschner shirt. Your team is on a roll and you don’t want to be the reason they lose tonight.
For those of you who like to consider the data, here are some numbers to noodle for Game 7s, with stats coming courtesy of the NHL:
Home team winning %: .599
Road team winning %: .401
Team that scores first: 112 wins
Team that surrenders first goal: 40 wins
Games that have gone to OT: 38 of 152 (25%)
Pittsburgh’s all-time Game 7 record: 7-6, including 2-6 at home
New York’s all-time Game 7 record: 7-5, including 1-5 at home
Henrik Lundqvist has won four consecutive Game 7s, tied for the NHL record
Brad Richards is a perfect 6-0 in Game 7s
Dominic Moore is attempting to win his third straight Game 7 in Pittsburgh, all with different teams (2010 with Montreal; 2011 with Tampa Bay).
What does it all mean? It depends on your perspective, but we understand the game is played on a sheet of ice, not a spreadsheet. History can be a guide, but it doesn’t account for the mood of the hockey gods, the bad bounces, the missed calls and the dude who forgot to follow superstition.