Rarely does sports intrude on the general news of the day, but tonight a truly extraordinary team faces a one-game battle to get into the championship round, the Stanley Cup. While almost all other professional New York City sports teams have continued with mediocre play on a long-term basis, the Rangers have played an exciting, fast-paced and stellar game within the confines of Madison Square Garden. With Henrik Lundqvist as goaltender, they have won a slew of game sevens, creating a record of clutch performances to compete with any other team in any sport in the nation.
The Rangers game tonight promises to be an exciting, nail-biting exercise. And their relatively new coach, Alain Vigneault, has played a key role in getting them this far. They went even farther, last year, to the Stanley Cup finals, and to beat that will require a trophy. If the Rangers win tonight, they may just get it. No team wants to be denied a championship two years in a row.
Threading the needle of the playoff process is taxing upon any team. Winning each playoff series requires sustained excellence, and if any team can achieve that, it has to be the Rangers. This year, they compiled the best record in all of hockey, so they are assured of home ice advantage throughout. One hopes it makes the difference tonight.