....where even the cabbie was asking me about the Knicks. Should be a wild scene at the Garden tonight, hope the Bockers finish better than the Rangers did with a similar rockin' crowd on Wednesday.
There's some history in that building.
Speaking of history, can the Rangers shake their Game 5 blues? Going to be tough. They may need a shutout from Lundqvist and/or a power play goal or two. They were upbeat again at practice back in Westchester.
One thing of which we are certain: If the Rangers manage to force a Game Six at the Garden, anything goes. The Caps will have to be a wee bit concerned, no?
History, Winston Churchill said, “will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”
Most athletes and coaches have far less lofty ambitions on what they can draw from the past.
The Rangers and Capitals, for example, square off tomorrow afternoon in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, with the Capitals, up 3-1 in the best of seven series, very close to vanquishing the ghosts of previous April losses. The underdog Rangers, who blew a 3-0 lead and lost in double-overtime on Wednesday, are focusing on the immediate future: Win or go home.
But each are at least musing about the distant, and recent, past.
Coach John Tortorella was asked today before the team left New York for what could be an elimination game at Verizon Center, if he used any history of NHL comebacks as a motivator.
“Nah. First of all, I don’t remember some of it,” Tortorella said. “I just think this team here doesn’t need to go to history, or far back. I think this team has, for the past few weeks, fought through a lot of different things in finding their way. I just sense … I’ll be honest with you, it took me until (Thursday) afternoon to swallow the loss. It was one of the tougher ones I’ve lived through. But once you swallow it and you puke it out… I just have such a good feeling. I just feel good about our club.”
Tortorella said he didn’t watch the Blackhawks, down 3-1 in their series to the No. 1 seed Canucks, battle back with a 5-0 win on Thursday night to force a Game Six in Chicago and plant a seed of doubt in Vancouver. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and several other Rangers did tune in, and found some promising signs.
“I saw the first period,” said Lundqvist, who will start his 31st consecutive game today. “It just shows that it can change really fast. The first three games it looked like Vancouver (was)… the best team in the playoffs.”
In the 2009 playoffs, Washington rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Rangers, and bowed out of the playoffs after leading Montreal 3-1 last season and Lundqvist sensed a trend.
“I think you’re going to see that even more,” he predicted. “Things can change so fast because the difference between teams is so small. Maybe in the past, when you had a 3-1 lead, it usually meant the other team was a lot better. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. It’s more about finding ways to win games, and this series has been very tight. It could have been a different story here, with some luck or whatever. I don’t think it’s impossible anymore. We see this as achievable.”
Without scoring on the power play, which is 1-for-18 in the series, the Rangers
may not achieve anything but an early exit. “We just have to be more desperate than them,” said defenseman Bryan McCabe, the power play quarterback who hasn’t been as effective as hoped since being acquired from the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline. “We need to get more shots through.”
Or perhaps they will need a fortunate bounce to extend the series to Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Artem Ansimov scored the first playoff goal of his career at 5:24 of the second period in Game 4 when, from behind the net, he threw the puck in front and it caromed off the skate of defenseman John Erskine. “I tried that all season and it usually misses and goes down the ice,” Anisimov said. “The other night I said, “Why not?’ I have nothing to lose.”
At this point, neither do the Rangers.
To his credit, rookie defenseman Ryan McDonagh didn’t try to downplay his turnover on Alexander Semin’s third-period goal early in Game 4 that opened the gates for the Capitals to crash through with two more to erase a 3-0 Blueshirts lead.
“It wasn’t a tough break, it was a bad play,” McDonagh said yesterday. “I went to the bench and I was thinking about my teammates, that’s what you do after a mistake like that.”
McDonagh, 21, regrouped and played well the rest of the way, helping to control Alex Ovechkin & Co. and finished with a career-high 31:58 on ice. “I just had to forget about it and focus on the game,” he said. “I wasn’t going to give in. You have to be strong mentally and keep your head up, especially at this level, at this time of the year.”
The physical play in his first playoff series has been quite an experience, said McDonagh, who had four of the Rangers 69 hits in Game 4. “The Caps have been playing pretty hard and taking the body, too. And the double-overtime? Wow.”
Tortorella said the personnel would not change. Defenseman Steve Eminger will be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. The projected lines: Ruslan Fedotenko-Brandon Dubinsky-Marian Gaborik; Sean Avery-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust; Wojtek Wolski-Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan and Vinny Prospal-Erik Christensen-Chris Drury….Henrik Lundqvist, who was not named as one of three Vezina Trophy finalists, will start his 31st consecutive game. He is 4-7 with a 2.60 goals-against avergae and one shutout in 11 career playoff games against Washington.
The Rangers are 23-30 all-time in Game Fives of playoff series, including 17-23 on the road…Caps RW Mike Knuble (hand) will be out for the second consecutive game…Forward Mats Zuccarello, who was 6-17-22 in 42 games in New York and was sent to Hartford on April 18, broke his hand last night during the playoff game between the Connecticut Whale and the Portland Pirates.