Rangers-Henrik Lundqvist: Removed from Game Six less than 24 hours prior--less so because of his poor play and more so because a Game Seven was inevitable with the Rangers already trailing 4-0 after 40 minutes of play--a proud Henrik Lundqvist will lead the Rangers onto The Garden ice tonight for Game Seven knowing that he will need to be the home team's best player if the Rangers wish to advance to the second round of the playoffs this year. His Game Seven and playoff elimination game numbers are terrific--3-1 with a 1.00 goals against average and .963 save percentage all-time in seventh games, for example--and he is looked upon by his teammates, coaches, and the fans as the single most important player wearing the Blueshirt in the biggest games the team plays. Last spring heshut out the Capitals 1-0 in Game Six and 5-0 in Game Seven as the Rangers rallied into the second round, and in 2012 he surrendered only one goal in each of the team's Game Sevens--2-1 home-ice victories over both the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals. Now he is being asked to do it again, facing an extremely confident Flyers team that clearly feels it took this series into its collective grasp with Tuesday's 5-2 victory over New York. With 74 games of playoff experience, eight playoff shutouts, three Olympics in which he won one gold medal and one silver, and a Swedish Elite League championship all on his resume, Lundqvist is clearly made for the biggest games on the biggest stage. The Rangers are asking for another virtuoso performance tonight.
Flyers-Steve Mason: Playing with a definite swagger, Steve Mason has been a difference maker since returning from injury for the Flyers midway through this series. He has won two of his three starts, both times keeping his team in the game with outstanding play against a Rangers onslaught in the opening period of play, allowing his own team to settle down and eventually skate to victory. In Game Four he faced 16 first period shots and stopped 15 of them, allowing his own club to skate into the first intermission tied 1-1 en-route to a 2-1 victory. Tuesday in Game Six he stopped all 13 shots he faced from a buzzing Rangers team and Philly held a 1-0 lead after one on its way to a 5-2 victory. Mason will have to play similarly tonight in Game Seven as one would have to imagine another strong surge from the Rangers on home ice in Game Seven at the start, if not throughout the entire contest. His only loss in this series was on Garden ice, a 4-2 defeat in Game Five in which he stopped 18 of 21 shots. Mason has played with supreme confidence, is cocky and aggressive, and right now believes he can outduel the Rangers King. We will find out tonight if indeed he can.