The New York Rangers have found themselves once again on the brink of elimination. Last series, they were down 3-1 against the Washington Capitals and have found themselves down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In a series where the Rangers were to be favored due to more open ice and against a team where they may be able to dictate their style of play, the Lightning have the Rangers with their backs against a wall. However, history seems to be on the Rangers’ side as they are 14-3 in elimination games dating back to 2012. Game 6 on Tuesday night will have every player leaving it all out on the ice in order to force a Game 7 at the Garden.
Game 5 at home this past Sunday saw the Rangers lose 2-0, in a game where Ben Bishop silenced his critics after letting in 5 or more goals the past two games. The Rangers have good looks all game, but once again, missed chances and failure to convert on the power play have the Rangers looking for answers in what has now become a best of two series.
“Well, we’ve been there before,” Lundqvist said in a quiet postgame locker room. “There’s no other way for us to go now. We have to leave it out there, not have any regrets.”
And he is exactly right. The Rangers want to play desperate hockey and when are facing elimination, there is no better team to root for. The fourth win in a playoff series is always the hardest one, and for Tampa, they may be playing the hardest game of the year. As their captain Steven Stamkos puts it, “We know the fourth game is the hardest to win.” They (the Lightning) have not made it back to the Stanley Cup Finals since their Cup win back in 2004.
However, the Rangers know what it takes to win and come back from a series deficit, but they will need all hands on deck to pull off another miraculous comeback. They cannot solely rely on Henrik Lundqvist every night in order to win. They need to give him goal support, which is something that has not come easy for them this postseason.
So it all comes down to Tuesday night at 8 p.m. in Tampa Bay. Will the Rangers play their best game of the year and force a Game 7 on their home ice, where Lundqvist reigns supreme? This team has a lot more to give and is better than what this series has insinuated. If their special teams can come through when needed and the Rangers play a hard physical game with their defenseman pinching in to help the offense, New York will see a Game 7.