Michael Nylander

Game 1 A Poor Predictor

There’s no doubt last night’s win over the Devils was important for the Rangers. It put to bed any suggestion that the Devils might have regained the momentum with their shootout win in the season finale, and it quickly erased memories of the last time these two teams met in the playoffs.

Martin Brodeur’s failure to cover the puck also perhaps is the type of play that can get into the heads of the Devils, and maybe turn a series to their opponents. But the final score aside, this was a much closer game than it appeared. The Devils hit four posts/crossbars, and easily could have had the lead in the first or second periods. They came out hard in the third, and had the first nine shots on goal before Ryan Callahan‘s goal.

No, this series is far from over…

If we look back at the Rangers’ history in seven game series, there are certainly some things worth taking note of. Of the 56 previous seven game playoff series the team has participated in, 38 (68%) have seen the winner of the first game go on to win the series.

Factoring in only those series in which the Rangers won the first game, and the statistics are perhaps a little less convincing. Of the previous 25 series in which the Rangers won Game 1, 15 (60%) have resulted in a Rangers series victory.

At the very least, this should tell us that while there is a moderate advantage to winning the first game, it’s not a very good indicator of the future.

Fortunately we Ranger fans for the most part, seldom get ahead of ourselves. We’re generally used to disappointment, and if anything, we’re more prone to pessimism than optimism. Yet, with all that said I have to say that some of those latent fears were put to rest last night, not extinguished completely, but allayed somewhat.

Let’s hope that for once, this game does portend a positive result, and that Friday night’s game in Newark will continue the momentum.

A Look Back
2007 – The Rangers opened up their second straight season in the playoffs with a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Michael Nylander scored on the rebound to make it 4-2 in the second, and the Rangers held in the third period for Henrik Lundqvist‘s first ever post season victory. The Rangers would go on to win the series 4-0 for their first sweep since the first round of the 1994 playoffs.

1994 – New York opens up the playoffs with a 6-0 win over the Islanders and goes on to sweep their rivals 4-0 outscoring them 22-3. Mike Richter has two shutouts in the series. The Rangers come back with a 6-3 win over the Capitals to start the second round, and go on to win games 2,3 and 5 to clinch a Conference Final berth.

1992 – The Rangers and Devils meet for the first time in the playoffs, and the Rangers start off on the right foot with a 2-1 win at MSG. The Devils stun the Rangers with a 7-3 victory in game two on Garden ice and then take a 2-1 series lead with a 3-1 win in Game 3. The Rangers take the next two, and chase Chris Terreri in game five, allowing a 19 year old Martin Brodeur to come in, in relief. Brodeur would end up giving up three goals and taking the 8-5 loss. New Jersey came back in Game 6 with a victory and it took an 8-4 win on home ice for the Rangers to take the series.

They’d end up losing in six games in the following series to Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins, the eventual Cup winners.

1991 – The 2nd seeded Rangers took on the 3rd seeded Capitals in the Pattrick division semifinal. The Rangers had won the season series 4-2-1, and opened up with a 2-1 victory at MSG. The teams traded shutouts in the next two games (3-0 to the Caps, 6-0 to the Rangers), but Washington reeled off three straight wins to close out the series, including a 5-4 OT win in Game 5 to put the Rangers on the brink.

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