Their backs still to the wall, Canadiens prepared to go about their business in Game 6
Might as well cut through all the platitudes and standard hockey playoff boilerplate and get right down to what will happen when the Rangers play the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"One team's going to win," Montreal center David Desharnais said.
"That's it," Desharnais said.
As always, the team facing elimination -- the Canadiens trail 3-2 in the series -- insists it is not overwhelmed by the arithmetic, and will have no trouble drawing on the "desperation" cliche.
"Not when your back's against the wall," Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. "Again, it's win or go home."
At 35, in his 12th NHL season, Gionta has been around long enough to know the obvious. He played on the New Jersey Devils' 2003 Cup champions and, if he has any more insight than his younger teammates about the sport's self-evident aspects, it is that being this deep in the playoffs "doesn't come around that easily or that often. So once you get to this point, you've got to take advantage of it and cherish it.
"I think the majority of the guys understand that," Gionta said. "But until you live it, until you go through it and you have a long drought when you don't get back to that point, you don't really understand it."
He and his mates are well aware that the Rangers "will be prepared to go," that the preferred approach is to "come out strong and establish yourself and get them back on their heels," which could help subtract the Madison Square Garden partisans from the equation a bit.
"Try to take away that energy," he said. "You want to give them nothing to go on, nothing to build off of, try to keep it as quiet as possible. But a win is a win no matter how you get it."
It's all been said before, all been attempted before, most recently in this series' previous five games, which have lurched from overtime madness to a couple of high-scoring laughers -- one for each side -- with no straight line of developments.
So don't expect any clues about how Thursday night's events will unfold, Desharnais said.
"It's the playoffs," he said. "You cannot know what's going to happen. If you watch the other series, it's the same thing. L.A. scored a lot of goals on Chicago. That is something we don't expect. But that is part of the playoffs.
"There is no momentum in the playoffs," he said. "You go out there. We play New York now in New York, so they're going to come out hard. We want to win that game to win the series, so we've just got to be ready."
The whole experience "is very special," said Gionta, who added another already apparent point. "We haven't given up . . . We're trying to get this back to Montreal for a Game 7. It's always fun, being a part of this, chasing a dream."
It's all crystal clear. And Thursday night, one team's going to win.