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For Rangers, Playoffs Defy Easy Explanations

The Rangers face another battle for their playoff lives

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    Lundqvist has been in this situation before.

    Since the start of the Rangers' playoff run, there have been some widely held beliefs about what they were about to face.

    The Senators were supposed to be a tough opponent because of their speed, but ultimately vulnerable because the Rangers were just a tougher and more physical team. That turned out to be completely false and, if anything, the Senators were the more physical team over the seven-game Rangers win.

    The Caps were supposed to be an easier opponent than the Senators, something that you can tell was just as false, based on the fact that there will be a Game Seven on Saturday night. And the Rangers were supposed to have an edge in Game Six because of the deflating way that the Capitals lost Game Five despite leading after 59 minutes and 52 seconds of the game.

    That last bit of conventional wisdom died 1 minute and 28 seconds into Wednesday's game when Alexander Ovechkin, who was every bit the monster he used to be, scored a power-play goal. The Capitals weren't demoralized in the least, they just played their game and wound up winning exactly the kind of closely played game that we've seen all series.

    John Tortorella spent some time after the game castigating his team's effort, but that seemed more like sending a message for Game Seven than it did an accurate response to how they played in Game Six. The Rangers were victimized by Ryan Callahan falling down on Ovechkin's goal and a fortunate bounce on Jason Chimera's second period goal, but they otherwise played pretty much the same way they have played all season. 

    Unfortunately that means their power play was fairly pathetic, most notably on a 5-on-3 in the second period that looked like the Rangers were skating in big bowls of soup. The effort might not have been overwhelming, but it was good enough to get the team a win if they had been able to take advantage of opportunities.

    Had it been a case of the Rangers simply being blown off the ice, there'd be reason to panic about Saturday. They weren't, though, and the one thing that we've learned over the course of the regular season and playoffs is that the Rangers don't let losses carry over from one night to the next.

    It's the things we know -- the Rangers' power play issues, their resiliency and Henrik Lundqvist's ability -- that are worth consideration right now. The things we think have been proven incorrect time and again, so it's a good time to stop thinking and just experience whatever's coming next.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.