Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 5/12/12

As one of the most famous New Yorkers (Yogi Berra) was once heard to say: “It’s déjà vu all over again”.  Another Game 7 for the Washington Capitals, but this time it’s against the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden.  As Rangers Coach John Tortorella points out (one of the few times this correspondent agrees with anything that he has to say), the fact that Capitals have won the last two series against the Rangers is “irrelevant”.

By all accounts, Game 7 at MSG will most likely be close given that five of the six games of this series — and all of Washington’s previous seven vs. the Bruins — have been decided by a single goal.  The two teams on the ice lead the NHL in blocked shots during the playoffs, and their two goalies are in the top five postseason goalies in save percentage, separated by only one tenth of one percent (Lundqvist at 93.6% and Holtby at 93.5%).

Looking at overall playoff statistics, the Rangers have edge in shots and shots against, while the Capitals have the edge on special teams, leading in both power play goals and penalty kills.  But as all hockey fans know, once teams begin playing playoff hockey, statistics do not tell the whole story or allow adequately predicting the outcome.

The famous “We are louder” battle between the two sets of fans notwithstanding, there is no doubt that the home ice crowd will have a positive impact for New York.  Can this be overcome?  If you think not, ask any Bruins fan what happened on April 25th on Boston’s home ice in that Game 7.

Does it boil down to determining which team wants it more?  To believe anything other than the fact that this is a do or die — win or go home — game for any of the players on either side of the ice is to demonstrate a lack of understanding what the Stanley Cup playoffs are all about.

So, where does that leave us?  At the risk of making a prediction, tonight’s game will be won by the team that makes the fewest mistakes — it’s that simple.  These two teams play the same style of hockey, are very evenly matched, and are both extremely highly motivated to move on to the Conference finals against the New Jersey Devils.  Having said that, I’d be willing to wager a small confectionary that the only people thinking about the conference finals tonight will be the Devils and their fans — Washington and New York will be completely engaged in trying to win Game 7.  And guess what.  All of the fans for either team will be holding their breath until this one is over.

Let’s Go Caps!

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