Veteran Ryane Clowe gets it. He knows that each NHL playoff series is a mini-season unto itself, with its own characteristics. Maybe like snowflakes. Or fingerprints. No two are identical.
But Clowe, who has played in 70 career playoff games and has scored 18 goals and 46 points, knows from experience: There are similarities. Things can change in a hurry.
Clowe, 30, who was acquired from the Sharks in exchange for draft picks, recalled two series turnarounds with the Sharks.
In 2009, when Clowe was with San Jose, the Sharks won 53 games and played the 8th-seed Ducks in the first round. "We were first and won the Presidents Trophy and lost to Anaheim in five," Clowe recalled, "and there was a lot of pressure on us the next year."
That season, in the opening round, he recalled, "we played Colorado, and we were heavily favored in that series, and they start out by winning one on our home ice. I think we ended up winning in six, but they had a 2-1 lead and Dan Boyle scored in his own net and we had over 55 shots that game. But that was a turning point for us, we regrouped after that game and we come back and win the next three games after that, clinching the series. It has a little bit of the feel of that, although these guys [Washington] have home ice this time."
The Sharks went on to beat Detroit, then lost to Chicago in the Cup Final. But that's getting way ahead of this year's version of the Rangers.
Clowe has had these words for his new Rangers teammates: "Listen, be prepared, things are not always going to go your way, that's just how it is; you can go on and win the Cup and things are still not going to go your way at times. It's how you handle those situations.'"
He shoots, he scores!
Leading playoff scorers (points, goals-assists)
Derick Brassard 6 1-5
Carl Hagelin 4 2-2
Mats Zuccarello 3 0-3
Brian Boyle 2 2-1
Ryan Callahan 2 0-2
Taylor Pyatt 2 0-2
With NHL players all but assured of participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in the resort town of Sochi, Russia, it's time to zero in on which Rangers will be chosen for the competition in February. The NHL has tentatively blocked out Feb. 9 through the 24th for the games, which frees players to represent their countries.
No one's willing to discuss specifics with the focus on the playoffs, but you can pencil in those who've played previously: Henrik Lundqvist (who won gold with Sweden in 2006 and led all Olympic goalies in goals against average in 2010); Rick Nash (who took home the gold medal with Team Canada in 2010, and played in Torino in 2006); Ryan Callahan (who captured the silver medal with the U.S. team in 2010) and Mats Zuccarello, (Norway, 2010).
Is the team's leading scorer, center Derek Stepan, who played for Team USA in the 2011 World Championships and captained the gold-medal winners at the 2010 World Juniors, under consideration? You'd think so.
With team rosters expanding by two to 22 skaters and three goalies- -- up from 20 and three -- forward Carl Hagelin (Sweden) is expected to be on the radar, and perhaps defenseman Ryan McDonagh for Team USA, especially if John Tortorella is chosen as one of the coaches, as he was in 2010.
Draft day blues
Unless something changes before June 30, when the seven-round NHL entry draft will be held in Newark, the Blueshirts do not even have a pick until the third round. The first-rounder went to Columbus in the Rick Nash deal; the second was in exchange for the Sharks' Ryane Clowe.
Of course, draft day trades aren't uncommon, and president and general manager Glen Sather could have something up his sleeve. Right now, though, the Rangers have just four definite selections, and perhaps a fifth:
Two in the third round (plus a conditional pick from Columbus in the third), one pick in the fourth, and another in the sixth. The condition on the third-rounder is this: If the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final, the pick returns to the Blue Jackets.