Despite showing absolutely no real indications that they will ever win another game EVER based upon their last two performances, it is possible for the Rangers to defeat the Washington Capitals. It is unlikely, but it can be done. I always loved that cliche that a Game 7 is the 'definition of competition.' This is what they play for and perhaps, perhaps this game will be different than the last two. So what has to happen?
1-They have to get a good case of amnesia. The Rangers simply can't think of any action that has happened before the puck drops. Not earlier this series, not earlier this season, not earlier in their lives. Instinct, energy and controlled emotion will rule the day.
2-They have to do that voodoo that they do so well. These Blueshirts seemed to do their best when they combined the sensibility of their old coach with the safe-is-death mentality of their new one. They know the basics of the systems and how to make them work. Its time to make them work.
3-Scott Gomez has to imagine he is playing against New Jersey. It should be easy as both teams wear red. The Alaskan Mexican has all too often been a MexiCan't. Actually, he has been worse as he has done virtually nothing in this series. He has to stop overthinking, stop circling and stop going offsides. He has to show off some of his amazing speed and the tenacity that was ingrained into him as a Devil and that he has only shown when he has played against them.
4-Captain Clutch has to be, well, clutch. Chris Drury has bit down and gritted through some kind of injury but it hasn't been enough. After he scored with 7.7 seconds left to essentially end the Rangers season two years ago, he has rarely shown that ability (except against the Islanders). Time to dig deep and find it. He was given the C, and now it's time to lead.
5-Time for the King to play like a prince and not a pauper. I have staunchly defended his play as he has gotten no help but in a Game 7 he has to be able to do it himself. He was not included as a Vezina finalist by the league and this is his opportunity to prove them wrong.
6-Colton Orr has to play, and play smart. The desire for revenge will be ridiculous as his linemate for the last couple of seasons was destroyed by that savage Brashear. As Markus Naslund learned the lesson firsthand with the Bertuzzi/Moore incident, it isn't worth it. Winning is the best vengeance and he just has to keep things buckled down and get the job done. Earlier this season Orr proved he could play smart, disciplined, physical hockey and make the most of his limited ice time. It is imperative that he does it again.
7-Brandon Dubinsky, who hopefully did not get rabies, has shown flashes all season long of Jason Arnott-esque play and has to step up here. Dubi has to play to his size, play to his smarts and crash the net. If that wasn't enough, he has to pick up where Betts left off on the penalty kill.
8-Artem Anisimov was called up to fill Bettsy's spot in the lineup and it is quite important that he do better than he did in his NHL debut. In that game he looked wooden and lost. The Rangers don't need a third lackadaisical communist to overhandle the puck and make bad turnovers. At least, unlike the other two, Beyond The Blueshirts says that this one is sure to be motivated.
9-It isn't key as the Rangers have won without Nik Zherdev caring, but it would be nice. Z is just as skilled as Semin and couldn't even carry his jock in this series.
10-The Avery factor has to return. Not the reckless pest that pissed off his coach, but the smart yet dirty player who could get under his opponents' skin and then turn around and score a pretty goal to rub their face in it.
And lucky Messier 11-Feed off of the crowd. The Blueshirts don't play in hostile environments often, as the True Blue follow them to Jersey and the Island and take over those buildings. But the bandwagon in Washington will be overflowing with loathing and the strong emotions of the crowd could strengthen the will and desire of the Rangers.
That is, of course, saying that there is any will and desire left. One can only hope ...
Let's Go Rangers!