This early afternoon as Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts devoted some time to discussing the New York Rangers and their Game One victory over the Ottawa Senators last night, they mentioned how the two third period goals scored by Ottawa were detrimental to the Rangers in the overall series outlook, because it would give the Senators some life and confidence heading into Game Two tomorrow night, and that they now know they can score goals against the Rangers and have a shot at winning. However, my mindset is completely the opposite. Because the Rangers battened down the hatches and got the win, after showing some lively signs of offensive brilliance, they then got a little carried away and lackadaisical, which cost them those two goals in the final ten minutes of the third period. Of course, it was better to have that momentary lapse when up by four, then let’s say, when they were barely hanging on 1-0 early in the second period. Ottawa is a team that can strike quickly, and grab a lead before you even know it, yet it did not seem that way until the end of the game. Given all the talk of how the Rangers matched up against them so poorly, when compared to the other two possibilities they could have faced in round one (the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers), had the last day of the NHL regular season worked out differently, the Rangers might have gotten too far ahead of themselves, and thought of this as an easy series, had they steamrolled them 4-0.
We all wanted the Rangers to come in and put the clamp down, and even though they did not finish as strongly as they started, the outcome will actually end up being to their benefit. There would have been no talks of tightening up and trying to calm down if the Rangers won by a lopsided score, and who knows, perhaps they would be going into Game Two with a little bit of over-confidence, something extremely dangerous against a lightning-quick Senators team. Instead, the Rangers now have in the back of their minds what their opponent is capable of doing—they now know that it is not going to be an easy series, and that if they want to keep on winning, they have to get back to the tight-checking playoff-like hockey they have played virtually every game, and in most games to success, since the late fall. The two late goals scored against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers will be a valuable lesson in the long-run, rather than a deflating moment to dwell on. The Rangers did what they had to do, and showed some flashes of brilliance in the meantime, which is obviously something to be very happy about. You can now expect the Rangers to come out even better tomorrow night.