The drama throughout May has been provided by the NHL rather than the NBA, so it’s fitting that both of hockey’s conference finals are going to a Game 7, promising a weekend of heart-stopping drama on both coasts.
The New York Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road in Game 6, meaning the Rangers now have four straight wins in elimination games, tracing back to their rally from 3-1 down to beat the Washington Capitals in the second round.
Let’s also remember the Rangers rallied from 3-1 down a year ago to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in round two. New York is quite comfortable playing in this kind of high-pressure atmosphere.
One thing we also know from this series is that momentum is non-existent, so in spite of Tampa Bay playing an absolutely atrocious third period, giving up four goals, plus an empty-netter. A game that had been compelling for the first two periods, with New York holding a 2-1 lead, turned into a sloppy joke in the final 20 minutes.
It was a bad night for Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, but keep in mind that Bishop has already bounced back from poor home showings to play well on the road. He did it in most notably in Game 5.
Furthermore, home ice advantage in hockey is perhaps less consequential than in any other sport. It means more to the fans, who get to be there and the scalpers who get to make money, then it does in predicting the outcome.
Each team has shown they can win playing the other’s style. The defense-first Rangers held that 2-1 lead in Game 6 in spite of Tampa unloading 29 shots in the first two periods. The Lightning won a grinding fifth game that should have favored New York.