Some lingering thoughts following the Rangers’ stunning victory in Game 5 last night:
1. How huge was it that Carl Hagelin bled after Joel Ward got him with his stick in the final minute, giving Ward an extra two minutes and allowing the Rangers to start the overtime on the power play after Brad Richards tied the score? (That’s such a hockey phenomenon, by the way — hoping your team’s player is bleeding after a high stick so as to cause an automatic double-minor.)
2. When the Rangers signed Former Conn Smythe Winner Brad Richards, this is the sort of goal they envisioned him scoring. And if it’s true that Richards will be evaluated based on what he does in the playoffs, then he’s been earning high marks so far in this postseason: He leads the team with five goals and ten points.
4. Was that Eliot Spitzer sitting along the glass when Marc Staal was being interviewed by Pierre McGuire?
5. John Mitchell — who the Times points out didn’t register a shot on goal through the first nine games of the playoffs — has gotten some power play time in the past couple of games, and last night, he earned the assist on the game-winner after winning the draw and moving the puck to Staal.
6. Speaking of Staal: How about the 3-on-1 he broke up — twice — in the third period to help protect a one-goal lead? The game-winner will make the highlight reels today, but breaking up that rush was critical.
7. We mentioned last night that the goal post was kind to Brad Richards in the final seconds. But the pipes weren’t kind to Nicklas Backstrom, whose backhand on a one-on-one with Lundqvist got just a bit of the goalie’s jersey before deflecting off the crossbar and over the net.
8. John Tortorella’s press conferences look a little different after a win than after a loss. Our favorite part of last night’s came after a reporter told him that Mitchell thought the Rangers’ first three power plays actually looked pretty good even though they didn’t score. “I’m not so sure about that,” said Tortorella, drawing laughs from reporters. We’re going to side with the coach here: The power play was awful last night until Ward was sent off.
9. If the Rangers are setting off that many fireworks for a second-round game — on top of the streamers they shoot out when the game ends — what are they going to do if the Rangers advance to the conference finals (or beyond) and win any home games?
10. Also via the Times: No team has ever won the Stanley Cup after playing fourteen games in the first two rounds. There’s a first time for everything, of course, but history would suggest that Game 6 is an important one for the Rangers.