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2015 NHL Playoffs: There's nothing before it or after, there's only Game 7

Don't put things under the microscope, the only thing that's left - for the moment - is the next game. It's also the only thing relevant in the narratives thrown out there leading in to the game.

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I wrote this article in April with the entire 2015 NHL Playoffs in front of us (with the collective hockey fan base in mind). While it can be looked at primarily from a Tampa Bay Lightning perspective, it can be applied to any of the 15 other contenders at the time: The past is over, done with, moot. It's a fresh canvas to be painted on from this point forward.

In that regard, ridding yourself of projections and expectations based on the past, everything now applies to Lightning versus Rangers Eastern Conference Finale. Yeah, stuff happened the last few weeks and it was between these two franchises, but don't think about game 6, don't waste your time thinking of game 5, or game 4, game 3 should be pushed aside while games 2 and 1 are the same in that they mean nothing now. They're minted, in the history books.

What you have now, and this applies to both clubs and the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks too, is a one-game playoff. One game's results will tell you who plays for the championship and who goes home and laments a lost season.

There's no use over-thinking or over-analyzing how the Lightning has performed as a unit or individually. Each game has been its own individual series, showing how inconsistent the Conference Finals have been for both the East and the West. It's why putting Henrik Lundqvist under a microscope for his play is just as worthy as putting Ben Bishop under the microscope for his: it doesn't matter. What happened in the last game is not what happened in the next game. The only clear difference in doubt-narratives is that Ben Bishop is a first-time NHL playoff goalie while Henrik Lundqvist has been here four times before this season.

Mystique or franchise history isn't going to win a hockey game, so don't let yourself get lost in those pulling out Rangers back story to drive home the notion the Rangers have things locked down. If we know anything for certain, it's that the players and results have been inconsistent from game 1 through game 6.

Stats of a general or advanced variety are nice to reflect on but they're truly irrelevant as there is no future and no past at this moment - there's one game and there's nothing beyond it. Who possesses the puck more of shots on goal or time-on-ice, 5v5 play and power play/penalty kill efficiency aren't as valuable as the one stat that always trumps them all: The team that has more goals in regulation and gets the victory. There is no time to hone the aspects of the game that you find needing improvement. Over-thinking how to improve the club at this point is a long-form review of things and that doesn't apply until next season. This season is another eight games at most.

Only one matters at the moment though. There's nothing before it, and nothing after. All that's left is the now.