Can the New York Rangers, pull a New York Rangers for the 2nd straight year?
Once again, the Rangers find themselves in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs down 3-1 in a series. This time, it is to the Washington Capitals. Recall that the Rangers fell down 3-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in last year’s playoffs, before charging back and winning the final 3 games. They had to win Games 5 and 7 in Pittsburgh to do it. This time, they have Games 5 and 7 at home, should the series go the distance.
The Montreal Canadiens finally did something that not many felt that they could do. They beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. After 8 tries, Montreal finally figured it out. They also chased Ben Bishop from the game in the process. Like the Rangers, the Canadiens would have Games 5 and 7 at home, should they continue winning.
It’s time to play playoffs Fact or Fiction. In case you missed it, we played Fact or Fiction with the Western Conference. We said the Minnesota Wild winning Game 4 was SCIENCE FICTION. Although they make a run at the end, it wasn’t enough. We will now look at some key topics in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and tell you if the statements are FACT or FICTION.
Eastern Playoffs Fact Or Fiction
1. Montreal will win the final 3 games of this series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
This is FICTION. Sorry Habs fans, but winning 4 in a row against a team who is 8-1 against you this season is a huge hill to climb. The Lightning had a bad game. The Habs played by far their best game of the series. It took them being down 3-0 to do that though. If this series was currently 2-2, then yes, I’d say Montreal would advance, given they have up to 2 games at the Bell Centre remaining. But the fact remains that the Lightning need 1 win, and the Habs need 3 wins. Now if Montreal wins Game 5, things become very interesting. You can never count out a team that has Carey Price on it. But Montreal has to show they can score goals in more than just 1 game. Scoring 6 is nice. But let’s see if they can string good offensive games together.
2. Ben Bishop is the weakness of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I love the Lightning as a team, but this statement is FACT. The evidence is there to suggest this is true. Look back at the Detroit series for instance. Bishop at various times, didn’t look all that comfortable. He did hang in there enough to allow his team to finally win the series. The Lightning may well be out of the playoffs if it wasn’t for the heroics of Tyler Johnson. Bishop is a good goaltender. But he has his weaknesses, as Montreal was able to show in Game 4. Will it prevent the Lightning from winning the Cup? That too, is FACT. Still think the Lightning are a year away.
3. If the playoffs ended now, Braden Holtby would win the Conn Smythe.
This statement is a FACT. The Washington Capitals would not be on the verge of making their 1st trip to the Conference Finals in the Ovechkin era if not for Braden Holtby. He has been their best player. In the Capitals 11 playoff games, he’s allowed just 15 goals. He is 6-4-1 in these playoffs, with a GAA of 1.48 and a .950 save%. In his team’s biggest game of the playoffs, Game 7 against the Islanders, although he wasn’t busy facing just 11 shots, he was there when he was needed. The Capitals have scored 23 goals in the 11 games. Without Holtby, the Capitals do not make it this far. Corey Perry and Tyler Johnson should also be considered for the Conn Smythe. But at this moment, my vote goes to Braden Holtby.
4. Rick Nash is the single biggest reason that the Rangers are down 3-1 to the Capitals.
This statement is FICTION. Nash is part of the problem, but he’s not the biggest reason. The entire team has their share of issues now. Henrik Lundqvist has been ok, but not dominate. The defense has had several breakdowns (see Burakovsky, Andre). They can’t score goals. An important player in Mats Zuccarello is out of the lineup. The Rangers have a whole laundry list of problems. Would Nash turning his game on be a huge help? Of course. But that isn’t enough to overcome a 3-1 deficit to these Washington Capitals. The Rangers will be desperate tonight. They might win on home ice. But their time in these playoffs is about to come to an end.
5. The Capitals will represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this is FACT. I think the Capitals beat the Lightning in the East Finals. Alex Ovechkin and company will take their best shot at either the Ducks or the Blackhawks. Still think the West winner wins the Stanley Cup, but that doesn’t take anything away from what Washington is doing. The pieces are in place. Holtby is solid. Their defense is surprisingly solid. Remember how many questioned the Orpik and Niskanen deals? This year anyway, that deal looks great. Their offense is good, lead by Ovechkin. The future of the Washington Capitals is very bright these days. They’ll be rewarded with a trip to the Cup Final.
It’s your turn fans. Tell me where I’m wrong. Tell me where I’m right. Leave your comments below. Who represents the East in the Final? Who’s your Conn Smythe winner? Are the above statements FACT or FICTION?
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.