Eastern Conference Call | NHL.com


There were plenty of hockey fans shocked that the New York Rangers outlasted the Carolina Hurricanes in their second-round playoff series, soundly winning Game 7 on Sunday night, 6-2.

Kraken play-by-play announcer John Forslund was not one of them: “I can’t say I’m surprised. I thought if Carolina hadn’t done it in six games, the Rangers would have shown enough to win the series New York Carolina outscored and outclassed the special team… It was Carolina’s year for this group, with 116 regular season points in the standings. This group is going to change. Some people at the top are going to have to make contract calls. We’ll just see where that leads.

The future infallible Hall of Fame broadcaster will call the Eastern Conference final between the Rangers and two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay on NHL Radio and the Sports Radio America Network. By virtue of one more regulation win than the Lightning, New York will host the showdown.

Tampa Bay swept state rival and 2021-22 Presidents’ Trophy winner Florida (122 standings) in four second-round games. The Lightning, which is recovering from several player injuries including former playoff scorer Brayden Point, received nine days off. New York has one day until Game 1 begins on Wednesday.

NYR star defenseman Adam Fox has 10 points in five playoff games so far in the playoffs (three straight to oust Pittsburgh, then two more against Carolina). Naturally, he was interviewed after the game by ESPN’s formidable Emily Kaplan, saying he and his teammates were in post-season mode and mentality, ready for the next one.

Forslund admires the prospect and notes that the Rangers are the youngest team in the playoffs. But he’s not convinced that Fox and company will benefit from the speed of execution.

“I would say under these circumstances, take advantage of Tampa,” Forslund said, waiting on a plane to New York on Tuesday and anticipating Rangers fans all over the streets of Manhattan this week. “It’s based on Tampa winning two years in a row.

“I don’t think the time off is going to affect them negatively. I think they can use it to their advantage to heal and rest and figure out what it takes. You know, that’s always the argument, rust or rest What happens happen here before I think Lightning realize their scary team was Toronto They beat a really good Toronto team [in seven games] then a very good Florida team in a short time.

“Nine days off can only benefit them. They can be healthier. They can mentally reset. Their best players need energy based on how much hockey they’ve played in the last three seasons. This will help them be ready for the Rangers. . They are battle tested.

Forslund said New York is “riding a ridge of emotion” and building character based on winning five straight elimination games. That, plus a “burning keeper” to Igor Shesterkin.

“Rangers have believed in him all season,” Forslund said, “but you also have a world-class keeper on the other end of the game. [Andrei] Vasilevsky.”

Shesterkin struggled mightily in the opening games of the playoffs, being fired after two periods in one game against Pittsburgh and fired after just one period in another loss. But Forslund said he’s witnessed this before and, speaking to a fellow reporter after NYR beat the Kraken this season, said, perhaps unfairly, that Shesterkin looks like the goalie who follows the huge boots. of goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist.

“I have a little history with this guy,” Forslund said of Shesterkin. “I called his first game against Colorado [early January 2019 on NBC Sports] … He left a bad goal to start the game, I’ll never forget that. He went out to play shuffleboard. Everyone said, you know, he can really handle the puck.

“He came out to play that puck. He made a hell of a pass on the ice after the soft goal, and the [Madison Square] The garden crowd went crazy and he fed on it. They ended up winning that night.”

Forslund said he recognizes Shesterkin’s rebounding abilities again this postseason. Those early bad starts against Pittsburgh came with a “damaged Rangers defense in front of him, especially the loss of [Ryan] Lindgren.”

“They really missed Lindgren,” Forslund said. “They weren’t right. They were up against a very good team [Pittsburgh]. Maybe the pressure was building [Shesterkin] a bit like any other young player. I mean, it’s the youngest team in the playoffs.

“He had to take that test and then he took the next step and he was really steady in that series against Carolina. I mean really good. It’s only going to get better for him. He’s a goaltender. sensational goal.”

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