Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.
BOSTON - John Tortorella promised that "there will be no give in this team."
He's already been right once in this situation in the postseason, having promised that his Rangers would be tighter and sharper after going down two games to none to the Capitals in the opening round.
But with the Rangers trailing Boston 2-0 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series, it doesn't seem quite as simple now. Quite clearly, the Bruins are not the Caps.
This Boston team is deep enough to throw a couple of kids in the lineup on defense and not miss a beat. Not just keep things stable, but have a college free agent named Torey Krug spin around inside the Rangers' blue line like Ray Bourque, score a goal and assist on another Sunday in the Bruins' 5-2 win in Game 2.
The Rangers have gained enough experience to know how to handle themselves in these kinds of situations. The main problem is that the Bruins have been here, too -- not just on their run to the Stanley Cup in 2011 but just a few days ago, when they rallied from three goals down in the last half of the third period of Game 7 to stun the Leafs in overtime.
This definitely is not the Capitals, the best team to fail repeatedly in springtime. Washington's Game 7 fold was the fourth time the Caps have lost a home Game 7 in the last six years, so the Rangers needed to be good, but hardly great, to rally in the opening round.
They need to be great now, beginning Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, where they haven't lost yet this postseason. Rick Nash sprang to life in Game 2 with a second-period goal and a few strong plays to remind Rangers fans why Glen Sather got him last summer and why the Rangers need him to get going this postseason.
But there were too many other crucial Rangers who hurt the effort in Game 2. Dan Girardi, as solid and steady as they come on defense, was on for all five Bruins goals. The fourth one, when Brad Marchand got a stick on Patrice Bergeron's centering feed on what seemed to be a harmless two-on-two rush, featured Girardi failing to get his stick or his body in good position.
It's a benchable offense for anyone else. Tortorella called that goal and another "defendable," meaning the Rangers could and should have done more to prevent them, rather than having the coach look for answers to excuse what went wrong.
Derick Brassard has had a wondrous postseason, but he was ineffective Sunday. Michael Del Zotto, on as Girardi's partner for four Boston goals, looked equally lost on the sputtering power play, which is 2-for-36 this playoff season and featured its best work from Anton Stralman, Mats Zuccarello and Chris Kreider.
There were good moments in the second period for the Rangers, with better saves from Tuukka Rask that won't help the Rangers' confidence in getting back into this series.
"We've got to take the positives out of the first two periods," Ryan Callahan said, adding that this 2-0 deficit being a repeat of the opening round will help the Rangers. "It lets us know it's still a series. We get one game at home, we can be right back in it here."
Last round, it took two games and a return trip home for the Rangers to get moving. Playing from behind, no matter how much Tortorella preaches "we just need to win one game," gets harder and harder as the playoffs grind on.
They are in familiar territory, to be sure, and maybe that will help. But facing this Bruins team is brand-new, and these first two losses definitely hurt.
"We've done it before," said Henrik Lundqvist, who wasn't his usual stellar self but hardly was the main culprit. "But I think we're playing a better team now, so it's going to be tough to do it."