It is difficult to reconcile the star power on both sides of the fence in this series with the putrid quality of the power plays that both the Rangers and Penguins have iced through the first six games. The Penguins are 1-for-19 with the man advantage in this series after scoring with the man advantage in five of six games in the first round against Columbus. The Rangers, meanwhile, were on an 0-for-36 slide with the man advantage before somehow managing to get two power-play goals on the road in Game 5. They followed that up with another desultory performance, going 0-for-6 in Game 6. They have failed to score with the man advantage in 10 of their past 11 playoff games this spring. Hey, Boston beat Montreal in 2011 to become the first team ever to win a seven-game set without scoring a power-play goal. But it says here that the power play will be a factor in Game 7 and the team that wins the special-teams battle will indeed move on to the Eastern Conference finals.
The King versus The Flower
Lundqvist, he of the active water bottle, has won four straight Game 7s, and the Rangers are 7-1 in their past eight Game 7s. And for the most part, the former Vezina Trophy winner has been as advertised, which doesn't bode well for the Penguins. "I think we've made it a little too easy on him the last couple of games. We have to do a better job of getting to the front of the net," Crosby said Monday. "They're not making it easy. They're trying to box guys out and make it tough to go there, but that's where you're going to score goals this time of year." Now, the playoffs haven't always been Lundqvist's time, as he is 37-43 lifetime in the playoffs. He has advanced beyond the second round only once in his career, when the Rangers were then beaten by New Jersey in the 2012 conference finals. At the other end of the ice is netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who pitched back-to-back shutouts in the middle of this series. He was just OK in the Game 5 and 6 losses, but OK won't cut it in Game 7. Fleury should have stopped Carl Hagelin's backhander in the first period in Game 6 and was slow to grab a loose puck that ended up being the Rangers' third goal. Those kinds of miscues likely will cost the Penguins this series if they occur Tuesday. But Fleury has shown enough of the form that saw him win 30 postseason games between 2008 and 2009 to make us think that he has the goods to match Lundqvist save for save. Now, whether he can deliver those goods is an entirely different question.