WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: Ryan Callahan #24 celebrates with Marian Gaborik #10 and Michael Del Zotto #4 of the New York Rangers after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Verizon Center on May 2, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
The New York Rangers walked into their locker room Thursday morning bloodied, bruised and exhausted; but not broken.
No matter what ailments the Rangers players had after the game (and there were many of them) they walked into that locker room as winners, mainly because they're a group of guys who will never ever quit. During Game 1 of the Ottawa Senators, with the Rangers up 4-0, I had this exchange with my father:
Dad: They just don't get it.
Dad: The Senators, they just don't get it.
Me: Don't get what?
Dad: That they're not going to outwork us. This team doesn't quit. They just don't get that we're not going to back down.
In the end, the Rangers sort of backed down (maybe "went soft" would be a better phrase to use) at the tail end of that period, allowing the Senators to score two easy goalts to make a dominating 4-0 scoreline look a little more respectable. Either way, the point is true.
Join me after the jump for more.
The Rangers might not have played their best hockey over these past 13 playoff games this postseason, but they have never quit. Not once.
And that resiliency showed on Wednesday night in the form of Ryan Callahan blocking shot after shot, Ryan McDonagh logging over 50 minutes of ice time, Brian Boyle not missing a shift after taking a puck to the face, Dan Girardi nearly getting decapitated and getting back onto the ice as soon as the doctor was finished stitching him up.
There are more stories I'm missing. More bravery that was omitted (not intentionally).
It was a game that started Wednesday night and ended Thursday morning thanks to more resiliency, this time in the form of a slumping sniper who continued to push until he found the back of the net. It ended up being the biggest goal in Marian Gaborik's fantastic career.
I said yesterday that you don't win the Stanley Cup, you earn it. The Rangers proved that to be true Wednesday night. So did the Capitals. You don't just coast through three overtimes in a huge momentum game in the playoffs. You just don't. You can't, because one mistake, one slip up, one poor decision and the game is over. Boom. It's as quick as that.
Alex Ovechkin could have ended the game in the first overtime, his shot hit the pipe. Gaborik could have ended the game earlier in the third overtime, his shot also hit iron. Mike Rupp, of all people, could have ended the game in the second overtime, his shot hit the backside of Boyle. Troy Brouwer should have ended the game in the first overtime, but his shot went just wide.
That's what happens when you play in overtime where just one bounce can end a game. In the end, the bounces kept the game from ending for both sides until Brad Richards and Gaborik combined to end the game.
You need these type of showings if you want to win the Cup. You don't get there without the entire team buying into the system and team concept. The Rangers proved that they've done just that Wednesday night.
I think McDonagh said it best after the game when he told the media this:
"Knowing the guy next to me is doing the same way. Whoever was out there was battling. Huge block shots, Hankie was on his game the entire way, so focused. Everybody put forth such a great effort. It was an unbelievable feeling to win."
The Rangers have a long way to go, but with attitudes like that littering this locker room, they have a good shot at getting there.