Bishop Dethrones The King; Tampa Bay Advance To The Stanley Cup Final

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

After 60 minutes of hard-fought hockey, an exchange of best regards and the Prince Of Whales Trophy was awarded, only one team stood victorious on the ice at Madison Square Garden and that team was not the home team. The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Rangers in game seven of the Eastern Conference Final to secure the first spot in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Tampa Bay Lightning will make their second all-time appearance in the Stanley Cup Final since 2004 where they went on to win the Stanley Cup in seven games against the Calgary Flames.  The Lightning can become the youngest Stanley Cup champions since the 1993 Montreal Canadiens.

It was the Rangers’ first loss in a game seven after six straight wins, and their elimination record since the 2011-12 season is now 15-4. The Rangers were 7-0 in game seven when they played it at home in the Garden.

Game Seven Trends

Yes, stats are just numbers on paper to make a team look good, but when the numbers start adding up on the ice, it makes it easier to piece things together. And sometimes they’re just a little off. So here are some stats that seem just about right and a little wrong after Friday nights 2-0 Eastern Conference Final. Remember, you can’t win games based on paper.

The club that scores first is 117-42 (.736) in Game 7s in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a 2-1 record this year. Tampa scored first and can now make that stat 118-42.

Home teams are 94-65 (.591) in 159 all-time Game 7s in the Playoffs, including 3-0 this year (NYR: 1-0, TBL: 1-0). Well, this one was not so much in favor of New York. Chalk that stat up to 94-66.

Rangers (9-6) Franchise Game Seven Results

May 30, 2015: Eastern Conference final round vs Lightning – Lightning 2 at Rangers 0

May 13, 2015: Eastern Conference second round vs. Capitals – Capitals 1 at Rangers 2, OT

May 13, 2014: Eastern Conference second round at Penguins – Rangers 2 at Penguins 1

April 30, 2014: Eastern Conference first round vs. Flyers – Flyers 1 at Rangers 2

May 13, 2013: Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Capitals – Rangers 5 at Capitals 0

May 12, 2012: Eastern Conference semifinal vs. Capitals – Capitals 1 at Rangers 2

April 26, 2012: Eastern Conference quarterfinal vs. Senators – Senators 1 at Rangers 2

April 28, 2009: Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Capitals – Rangers 1 at Capitals 2

June 14, 1994: Stanley Cup Final vs. Canucks – Canucks 2 at Rangers 3 (WON STANLEY CUP)

May 27, 1994: Eastern Conference Final vs. Devils – Devils 1 at Rangers 2, 2 OT

May 1, 1992: Patrick Division semifinal vs. Devils – Devils 4 at Rangers 8

May 5, 1974: Semifinal at Flyers – Rangers 3 at Flyers 4

May 2, 1971: Semifinal at Blackhawks – Rangers 2 at Blackhawks 4

April 23, 1950: Stanley Cup Final vs. Red Wings – Rangers 3 at Red Wings 4, 2 OT

April 2, 1939: Semifinal at Bruins – Rangers 1 at Bruins 2, 3OT

Big Ben

Ben Bishop
(John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Bishop stood tall in blanking the Rangers 2-0 for his second straight road win at MSG, after being pulled in Game 6 where he allowed 5 goals in Tampa Bay’s 7-3 loss to the Rangers. Bishop has not allowed a goal on Garden ice in 145 minutes and 43 seconds.

Bishop has some game seven bragging rights of his own after becoming the first goaltender in NHL history to post shutouts in each of his first two career Game seven appearances and became just the third goalie in NHL history to post two game seven shut outs in single postseason, joining Patrick Roy (2002) and Tim Thomas (2011).

Per @EliasSports, Bishop has registered three assists so far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, making him just the tenth goaltender to do so in NHL history, joining the company of Martin Brodeur who last registered four points back in 2012.

Home Ice Disadvantage

(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

The Rangers won the Presidents Trophy for the best record in the NHL which gave them home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, which made it seem like a good thing if things came down to a game seven.

“That’s the toughest (part),” Martin St. Louis said after the Rangers were blanked by Tampa goalie Ben Bishop for the second straight game on home ice. “I wouldn’t have guessed that starting this series, that we would lose three at home. I would never have. But they got the first goal again and they got numbers back after that and it was tough to manufacture anything. They played well.”

The Rangers finished with a 6-5 record on home ice throughout the playoffs.

“We were pretty good all year in this building,” captain Ryan McDonagh said. “They found a way to play a good road game, they simplified their game and they played well and were structured defensively. It’s tough. We put ourselves in position in the regular season to be at home, to get home-ice advantage, and we just couldn’t (win). They played good road games here, we couldn’t get much going, and they played a good series here.”

Power-less Play

New York had two power plays in the second period, the best chances came on two shots by McDonagh that Bishop handled with ease. The Rangers power play struck Tampa Bay in game six, but struck out in game seven when it was needed the most.

The Rangers matched Tampa in power-play goals (seven), but their margins of victory were larger, and the Bolts came out on top.

“We were right there,” Lundqvist said, adding, “We were so close.”

Going into next season the Rangers will be working with a tight salary cap and pending free agents from the likes of Stepan, Miller, Hagelin and Fast. In my opinion, I’d like to free up some money with the departure of St. Louis, Boyle, and Yandle who as well are pending unrestricted free agents. But I’m not nominated for General Manager of the year so I’ll leave the contract negotiations to Sather.