NHL Eastern Conference Final: Tampa Bay vs. Rangers – Game 7

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game SixIt’s come to game 7, and it’s anybody’s game. The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers have been wildly offensive in Eastern Conference final which has had it’s ups and downs and exciting OT surprises.

After six games, both teams have combined to score his 40 goals. Outside the 2-1 Rangers win in Game 1 and 2-0 Lightning win in Game 5, the games have looked like baseball scores of 6-2, 6-5, 5-1 and 7-3. They are still 29 goals away from breaking the imfamous Oilers’ record and going into Game 7 Friday night, the players probably want to keep it that way and not get into a run and gun type of play.

“We have to go in there with a 1-0 mentality,” said Lightning defenceman Victor Hedman. “I think it’s a matter of playing better defence,” said Rangers forward Rick Nash. “We’re going to get a big push from the other team, and we’re going to make sure we’re defensively sound.”

The Lightning and the Rangers are averaging 6.6 goals per game and have kept the red goal light burning brightly. In the West, the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks have averaged 6.2 goals per game. In comparison, the two leading offensive teams during the regular season (Tampa Bay and Dallas) averaged a combined 6.3 goals per game. So this series is explosive. Usually, the playoffs are a time when scoring goes down. Coaches are typically trying to coach to prevent goals, at the same time the officials put their whistles away allowing players to dictate the flow.

The Lightning and Rangers have ranked first and third, in goals per game, with Steven Stamkos finishing second with 43 goals in the regular season, and Nash, third with 42 goals. Tampa Bay versus New York has been an awesome ride, with so many lead changes, odd-man rushes, breakaways and highlight-reel goals. It’s been exactly what the NHL needed: an exciting series that will definitey provide a worthy competitor for the Stanley Cup. This hockey has been a pleasure to watch.

The Eastern Conference champion will play the winner of Saturday’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Final between the Ducks and the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, which is expected to hit the ice Wednesday, June 3.

This game will probably come down to the goaltenders. Rangers’ Lundqvist is phenomenal in Game 7s, only giving up five goals total in winning six straight since suffering his lone Game 7 defeat to Washington in 2009.

Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop will be playing in the second Game 7 of his career, the first of which he won in the opening round against the Detroit Red Wings.

Who’s side will Lady Luck be on? The team that scores first and can carry it through 60 minutes.

Our Pick: The Tampa Bay Lightning