Confidence: That in which faith is put; trust; feeling of security.
Overconfidence: Too much of the above.
There’s a fine line between confidence and overconfidence that must carefully be trod by the Rangers tonight at The Garden, like circus acrobats doing their high-wire act.
Approaching this decisive Game 7, coach Alain Vigneault knows in his heart of hearts that everything — on paper — heavily tilts in the Rangers’ favor. To wit:
- CAPITALS FAILURES: The Caps just have not figured out the wrapping process when it comes to series clinching. They will get no instruction tonight.
- RANGERS SUCCESSES: The Blueshirts never miss an opportunity to exploit a series-winning opportunity. Better still, they can do so in front of the rip-roaring home crowd.
- MORE MO — AS IN MOMENTUM: Rebounding from the one-three deficit, precisely parallels last Spring’s feat against Pittsburgh and puts the New Yorkers in a “Let’s Do It Again” frame of mind.
- STRIKING (NASH) OIL: Rick Nash‘s breakthrough goal could be the Rangers’ version of striking oil; except that the result could be a gushing of red-light-pucks for Big Rick.
As my buddy, Gus Vic, says, “it looks like an open-netter for New York.”
“Every historical piece of data points to the Rangers,” said Vic. “They should be confident in the comfort they get playing elimination games, particularly at home.”
Impressive? You bet, yet there are complications that demand attention under these optimistic circumstances.
For starters, the Capitals are not dead. For finishers, their captain allegedly predicted his club would win tonight’s game.
Alex Ovechkin isn’t Alex Ovechkin for nothing. As player and personality, he’s inimitable and if he actually did predict a win, more power to him. He’s the captain and he’s leading by word. The example we’ll learn about tonight.
Right now, he’s a man without room to shoot much and when he does, his drives are predictable. His energy is boundless. but his accuracy is severely wanting.
Ovi’s goalie is showing critical signs of overwork. Braden Holtby still has some kicks left in his pads, but with a staggering defense fronting him, the Rangers have been getting more chances than ever.
Also: He has been beaten six times in the last 71 minutes of game time. Wear and tear, my good friend; wear and tear. Let’s not forget that the Islanders took Washington to a black-and-blue seven games.
That said, Washington’s relentless near-comeback in Game 6 reveals that there’s still gas in the Caps’ tank; maybe more than some think. But I wouldn’t bet on that either. Now for some cautionary notes:
- RYAN MCDONAGH: The captain returned from an explosive Ovi check but that may have been on adrenaline alone. If the Captain is less than his best then there should be concern.
- DEFENSIVE CARELESSNESS: Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal on Sunday came about when Derek Stepan overhandled the puck in a bad spot. Joel Ward’s goal followed sloppy coverage in a situation which should have been under control. When simple becomes complex, trouble brews.
- OVERCONFIDENCE: Under Vigneault, overt bragging is non-existent. But with so many elements favoring a Rangers win, overconfidence just might sink into the players’ psyche. Best to limit thoughts to confidence and all should be well.
“We’ve had some experience in the past,” said AV. “We know we need to stay in the moment and focus on the process. That’s what we’re going to concentrate on doing.”
For The Maven, the best bull’s eye analysis of Game 7 has come from former Blueshirt defenseman Anton Stralman now with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“The Rangers,” opined Stralman, “will pull it out — because that’s what they do!”
Three little words — if utilized in tonight’s game — by AV’s men will inspire late night celebrations on Seventh Avenue — fast, hard, smart.
Put them altogether and they equate Rangers Win!