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Jastremski: Comeback Blueshirts Conference Finals Bound

All season long, the New York Rangers have continued to find ways to win.

In some ways, it shouldn’t surprise anyone what this team has been able to accomplish so far this postseason.

However, in other ways. It should!

The Rangers have won five consecutive games facing elimination. No easy feat.

They were down 3-1 against the Penguins and found a way to rally.

In the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers found themselves in familiar territory.

After a lackluster Game 5 effort, the Rangers proceeded to outscore Carolina 11-4 in the final two games of the series advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015.

The Rangers dominating 6-2 Game 7 win was the first home loss for the Carolina Hurricanes all postseason.

The Rangers beat the Hurricanes because of two main reasons.

Special Teams and goaltending.

The Rangers power-play was responsible for the first two goals of Game 7. Adam Fox and Chris Kreider delivered in ways that the Carolina Hurricanes could not.

There was no comparison between the Rangers and Hurricanes power play units.

In addition, there was no comparison between goaltenders.

Igor Shesterskin was spectacular in all seven games in net.

The goaltender advantage was overwhelming for the Blueshirts.

They will not have the same advantage going into the Conference Finals against the two time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning are on the verge of a dynasty, they are battle tested and well rested.

Is this a series you expect the Rangers to win, probably not.

Guess what, doesn’t matter.

The Rangers have spunk, they have terrific goaltending and special teams and they have nothing to lose.

A young, emerging Rangers team against a budding dynasty.

I’ve learned my lesson with this Rangers group, don’t count them out.

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York every Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday on the Ringer Podcast Network on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. You can also watch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight on SNY.

Jastremski: Comeback Rangers advance to Round 2

Postseason Series fascinate me on so many different levels as a sports fan.

After all, the loser sees their season come to an end, but it’s much more than that.

It’s the heightened drama, suspense, and all of the twists and turns that accompany intense games between two of the same teams over a week to two-week span.

New York Rangers fans experienced the rollercoaster of emotions that a playoff series can provide over the last two weeks.

A week ago, the Rangers season was on life support.

After a feel-good regular season, the first four games of their 1st round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins were nothing short of a nightmare.

The Rangers lost both games 3 and 4 in Pittsburgh and to make matters worse, star goaltender Igor Shesterkin was pulled in each game.

The onslaught of Penguins goals in Game 4 didn’t exactly inspire confidence that a comeback was possible.

Something changed in the Rangers returning home for Game 5.

Rangers Head Coach Gerard Gallant called the team soft following the Game 4 loss. Personally, I thought it was a desperate ploy by a coach of a dead team trying to wake his team up.

Guess what, it worked.

The Rangers sense of intensity and determination was all over the ice in the final three games of the series.

They were down 2 goals in Game 5 and came back to win.

Game 6, they returned to Pittsburgh, the scene of the Game 3 and 4 horror show, and proceeded to overcome yet another two-goal deficit.

In Game 7, the Rangers trailed late in the third period, but Mika Zibanejad’s clutch game-tying goal set the stage for Artemi Panarin’s series-clinching goal in overtime.

The Rangers’ star players were quiet for the first four games of the series. However, in their final three wins, they were instrumental to their success.

Zibanejad and Panarin struggled for the first five games of the series but responded in a big way. The same could be set for netminder Igor Shesterkin.

Shesterkin found his comfort zone and got back to the winning style of play that was on display throughout the regular season.

The Rangers won a series that in many ways validates their feel-good regular season.

Up next for the Comeback Kids, the Carolina Hurricanes. A team that knocked the Blueshirts out of the 2020 COVID Bubble Tournament and dominated the head-to-head regular-season match-ups.

Unlike the last series against Pittsburgh, the Rangers are underdogs heading in.

Let’s see what other twists and turns await “The Comeback Kid” Rangers in the roller coaster ride that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs…

You can listen to my podcast New York, New York on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. We will have episodes following Game 1 on Wednesday & Game 3 on Sunday. Plus you can catch me nightly on Geico Sportsnight following the Mets on SNY.

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