NEW YORK – Eighteen years is a very long time.
Back in 1994, the Lion King was coming out in theaters, while Bill Clinton was pushing his agenda for universal health care.
No one knew what to make of the Mets, and baseball was in an era of labor disputes, rather than the bliss you see now,
Facebook, was something you saw in the post office and you did not want to be in and back then you read an article like this on a piece of paper, rather than turning on your computer.
Yes, 18 years is a very long time, but even with the almost two decade layover, the Garden still can host a heck of a Game 7.
Of course, the last two Game 7s were certainly more intense with Mark Messier and Co. trying to break the curse, but they were just as exciting as tonight’s 2-1 win by John Tortorella’s Rangers over the Ottawa Senators to send them to Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“It was a big battle and we needed everybody to do it,” said Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “It was back and forth the whole series and they played well. They made it tough for use, but we knew that going into the series. They’re a good team and to finish strong here at home in Game 7, it’s a good feeling.”
And the reason why the raucous crowd of 18,200 were raising the old, but transformed roof of the Garden was the play of No. 30. The King ruled the Senators, much like Julius Caesar did 2000 years ago to the Roman version of the senate. There was about a three minute period late in the third where Lundqvist stopped an onslaught of Ottawa shots and turned them back.
However, Lundqvist had help with his defenseman able to veto a number of the Senator shots with their bodies.
“We defended our (rear-ends) off in the third,” Tortorella said. “They ramped it up on us there in the second half of the third. That’s the true identity of our team, blocking shots. We found a way.”
And thanks in no small part to rookie Chris Kreider. In just his fifth NHL game, the BC product is showing why he was labeled can’t miss. Hustling and sliding for a puck in the second, he set up Marc Staal’s opener at 4:46. Kreider was able to get the puck to Derek Stepan who passed it to an open Ryan Callahan, and fed Staal to make it 1-0 Rangers.
“Chris uses his legs and it;s a big part of our line’s success,” Stepan said. “Cally too – both of them seem to get pucks and find a way to create loose pucks.”
Brandon Dubinsky also had a good game, even though it appeared that he hurt himself late in the first. He came back and set up Dan Girardi’s game winner at 9:04 of the second.
“We talked about how the defensemen have to jump into the play and they did that quite a few times tonight,” said forward Marion Gaborik. ” It ended up with two big goals by G and Staalsy and they became key goals.”
It was enough for Lundqvist who ended up the night stopping 26 of 27 shots including all nine in the third, ending any hopes of an Ottawa upset.
“It was playoff hockey at its finest,” Callahan said. “They are making a last surge, trying to play for their season. We stood in there and blocked some shots. Hank came up with some key saves. It’s how we have been playing all year, and we have to continue to do that.”
They will continue on against the Washington Capitals who also won a Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday.
“They went seven games as well and they have very confident players,” Gaborik said. “We have to get ready for those guys and play our game. It’s going to be another tough series.”
Game 1 is Saturday at 3 pm.
And 18,200 rabid fans can’t wait.