Coach John Tortorella and Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky and Marc Staal and Marian Gaborik all echoed the same message yesterday about tomorrow's Game 5 matinee: We'll be ready. We've responded before. We have confidence.
Who can doubt them? It's the natural, expected response to an elimination game, Whaja expect? "Oh man, we're folding the tent. No shot. See ya in training camp..."
But will ready be enough? The Caps would absolutely looooove to wrap this up at home and not journey north to the Garden on Monday. That's their incentive.
Although Twitter is working and the blog software appears fine today, it does not seem as if yesterday's files were posted. My laptop, provided by Newsday, has been in twice for repairs in the past couple weeks, and there's still some kinks. I will say this: It's been through an awful lot this season, long days, millions of words and countless miles of travel....Kinda like Lucille, B.B. King's old guitar...
But enough whining. Wow. I was almost channeling Boudreau there.
Rangers skate at 11. Please check here for a report on that. Leaving for DC later this afternoon. Wonder if anybody decent is playing at the 9:30 Club?
And here's my story from today's paper and a notebook, plus some Gaborik quotes. Arthur Staple also weighed in on Gaborik and the power play in the paper and on newsday.com.
GREENBURGH, N.Y---The small grey wastepaper baskets were six feet apart and Brandon Dubinsky, wearing makeshift goalie pads, was down on the locker room rug trying to stop a green tennis ball.
Matt Gilroy, Derek Stepan and Brian Boyle were passing the ball around with their sticks until Gilroy beat the sprawling Dubinsky just as the media horde arrived.
“Hey, weren’t we supposed to get a head’s up?” Dubinsky asked, and laughing, the floor hockey players scattered.
Except Dubinsky, that is.
As he peeled the pads off his blue track suit, the forward who started the moustache trend on the Blueshirts and who has two goals in the last two games against Washington, spoke confidently of his teammates as the Rangers prepped for a do-or-die Game 5 Saturday against the Capitals.
“The resiliency of this team has been great,” said Dubinsky. “We just break it up into smaller pieces; as Torts said, we can’t look at the hill. We have to look at what’s in front of us first.”
On the horizon is a rocking-the-red crowd at Verizon Center, where the Rangers have lost two straight in the playoffs, but won 6-0 there on Feb. 25.
“We feel confident on the road,” said Dubinsky, 24, who has seven playoff goals in 21 games. “Our style of game is suited for the road. We just have to get pucks in and play physical and play aggressive and all those things, so it’s a big challenge for us and I think we’re ready to answer it. I think we know what we’re capable of and doing it for 60 minutes…I don’t think this group has lost its confidence, in fact, I know we haven’t.”
Dubinsky, back at center after playing all year on left wing, had a goal and assist in the 4-3 double-overtime loss on Wednesday and led all forwards with a career-high 33:17 of ice time. He knows the stakes are high.
“We’ve got to win to keep it going, so whatever it takes, we’ve got to do it.” he said. “This teams has shown, when our backs are against the wall and we have to accomplish something, we’ve been able to do it. So I really believe in this group, I know we’re a good enough hockey team to beat those guys, so we have to go out and play our best game because we know they’re going to play their best game.”
Rangers captain Chris Drury, not part of the floor hockey battle, said “I think everyone’s spirits are fine. I think everyone got it out of their systems last night or today… Your margin of error, there is none, so I don’t think you can look at the big picture, just try to win the first five minutes, the first 10, the first period and go from there.”
Drury, who watched from the sidelines with a broken finger and after knee surgery for all but 24 regular-season games, said that from his perspective, “it’s a pretty gutsy group of guys and I don’t see any reason in the world why we’re not going to be able to bounce back with the proper effort Saturday.”
Marc Staal didn’t bounce back that fast. “I didn’t feel much better this morning than I did last night, to be honest,” he said. Asked what the team learned after coughing up a 3-0 lead after the second period in Game 4, he answered: “No lead is safe… They’re a dangerous team, and breakdowns like that will get them back in the game. We’ve come back a number of times, that’s the way we have to approach it and respond in a big way…It’s a must-win game, all of them are the rest of the series, that’s the way it is now.”
It won’t be floor hockey on Saturday.
GREENBURGH, N.Y.--- It wasn’t exactly Mark Messier’s guarantee of a win before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils in 1994. First of all, coach John Tortorella can’t score goals from the bench.
But Tortorella yesterday offered his own pledge as the Rangers prepare to try to stave off elimination in Game 5 on Saturday in Washington: “We know what’s at stake here….we’ll be ready to play, I have no question in my mind…I guarantee that: We’ll be ready to play.”
His basis for confidence? A track record of rebounds.
“We’ve done it all year long when we’ve struggled,” he said. “I’ve been with them for how many months? I know who they are…Each game has to be your best game of the series; we ended up losing last night. We’ll be better Saturday.”
The Capitals won after falling behind 3-1 against the Rangers in 2009, and lost to eighth-seed Montreal after leading 3-1 last year. Moreover, in five previous best-of-seven series in which they held a 2-0 lead, the Capitals have lost four. But Tortorella said he wouldn’t allude to any of those numbers with his team. “No, we’re going to worry about ourselves.” Presumably, he won’t refer to this one either: The Rangers have never rebounded from a 3-1 deficit in 14 tries and in last five times, have surrendered in five games.
Capitals forward Mike Knuble (scratched, hand) remains day-to-day…Henrik Lundqvist is 1-6 in his last six playoff games…The last time the Rangers were in a double-overtime game was on April 29, 2007, when Michal Rozsival’s shot beat the Sabres 2-1 at the Garden in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals…Marc Staal and other players appreciated the off-day, but not Tortorella. “I’d just as soon play [Friday] afternoon.. With so many minutes [played] for both teams, I’m sure it’ll help. The schedule is what it is.”
Gaborik, who had four shots, on one missed op, when Dubinsky, on the left side near the blue, saw him streaking down the middle, but was picked off by an official. “I would have a breakaway,” “It’s just one of those things that happens… The chances were there; too bad a couple of those didn’t go in. You just have to carry it over. Hopefully, we’ll get some breaks on Saturday.”
On the 1 for 18 PP: “We just have to get the shots through and create a couple chances,” he said. “As soon as we get into the zone, we have to know what we’re doing when we get the puck. They’re aggressive, so as soon as we get a chance to shoot, take the chance, not wait.”
On the OT goal, which he watched at home on TV highlights: “The play at the end of the game, it’s a bad bounce. I should ahve seen Hank earlier...You have to kind of jump over it and put it behind and focus on the next game; you can’t beat yourself up over it, you’ve just got to go forward. We want to stay positive and take confidence from the first 40 minutes. We know we can play with those guys; we know we can beat them.”